Millennium Post

A problem of plenty for Rahul Gandhi

Diwedi emerges stronger after Diggy’s powers are cut back

The wings of Digvijay Singh, the most important general secretary of the party known to be the political mentor of Rahul Gandhi, is likely to be clipped in the forthcoming All India Congress Committee [AICC] reshuffle. Digvijay is likely to be removed from the charge of both Uttar Pradesh and Assam. When the Congress leadership decided to appoint Nirmal Khatri as the new Pradesh Congress Committee [PCC] chief in place of Rita Bahuguna, Digvijay was kept out of it. He was not consulted. The decision to have eight zonal incharge was also not his. Janardhan Diwedi has emerged as the most powerful general secretary. Khatri was Diwedi’s choice, despite the fact that he had refused to accept the job twice earlier because of his ill health. As for Assam, the chief minister Tarun Gogoi has complained against Digviay for encouraging factionalism in Assam Congress. Most probably, Ghulam Nabi Azad or Janardhan Diwedi is tipped to get the UP charge. Azad is, however, reluctant to come full time to do party work. Diwedi is also lobbying to become a minister in the Manmohan Singh government. The toss is between Oscar Fernandes and Diwedi, as one of the two would move to the government.

Mulayam’s third front to outsmart BJP, not Congress

Mulayam Singh Yadav’s sudden decision to form a Third Front demanding cancellation of the coal blocks and judicial probe is seen as a Congress ploy to take the wind out of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s aggressive strategy against the Congress. Before Mulayam took to streets, Sonia Gandhi spoke to him and gave him the green signal. She even had a long chat with Sitaram Yechury before she called up Sushma Swaraj. The buzz is that even if Congress fails to make it at the hustings in 2014, the party will not allow the NDA to take over. Mulayam can lead the third front with Congress support.

Nirmal Khatri As UPCC chief upsets Muslims

The appointment of Nirmal Khatri as UPCC chief has raised many eyebrows as his secular credentials are under a scanner. The Muslim community is extremely unhappy. In Faizabad, he is known to be a BJP stooge. In 1989, when the Ayodhya movement was at its peak, he had joined hands with the BJP to win his election. The then BJP candidate Lalloo Singh had given a slogan, Ek vote Lalloo ka, ek vote Panju ka. When Mulayam Singh, the then chief minister of UP, gave a call banning Kar Seva, Khatri had opposed it. He is also known to be a casteist leader in Faizabad, as he had opposed the appointment of  Dalit teacher in Saket college, of which he was a member in the governing body.

Congress split over Rahul’s role

Rahul Gandhi is likely to join the government in the forthcoming cabinet reshuffle. Uneasiness, however, prevails in the Congress over the Gandhi scion’s role in the government. Pressure is mounting from within the Congress on Rahul to take charge of the party. A large section in the party believes that it is high time that Rahul should take over and lead it from the front. This section, comprising largely of the younger brigade, thinks that after joining the government now, he would be eligible to lead the Congress in 2014 as the party’s future PM. But then there are people like Digviay Singh, who are opposed to Rahul joining the government now. Their opinion is that this is not the correct time for him to join the government, as only two years are left for the Lok Sabha elections. All eyes will then be focussed on Rahul’s performance. Bureaucrats stop listening to you at the fag end of the term. His performance will then become a subject of debate. This section believes that Rahul should take charge of the party as member core committee and as vice president or working president.

Jaipal might replace Kiran Reddy as Andhra CM

The buzz in the political circles is that it is Mukesh Ambani who would decide the cabinet berths in the forthcoming reshuffle. If Ambani would have his way then Jaipal Reddy will not be the petroleum minister in the cabinet reshuffle.  MPs like Rajiv Shukla, known to be close to Ambani, and other lobbyists are trying hard to get Reddy removed. But if Jaipal is removed from oil ministry, he is sure to go over as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh in place of Kiran Reddy. Sonia Gandhi is planning to replace Kiran Reddy with a chief minister from Telengana. And Jaipal is the most recognised face of Telengana.

Shukla ‘steps up’ for the Cabinet reshuffle

Rajiv Shukla, who is confident of getting elevated in the cabinet reshuffle, is leaving no stones unturned to look slim and smart. He is using a step-o-meter to reduce his weight. He had to cover 10,000 steps every day, but due to the hurly burly of coal gate in Parliament, he did not have to do much. Running around in Parliament itself, he had covered 5,000 steps!

Gadkari’s conspicuous absence from coalgate agitation

All this while, the man missing in action was Nitin Gadkari. Throughout the 13 day standoff on Coalgate, Gadkari, who dreams of leading his party to victory in 2014, was no where to be seen. The BJP chief was reportedly taking a break in the cool chimes of Alaska, while his party fumed and fretted on Coalgate. The holiday was planned much before the coal blocks scam erupted. But some disgruntled BJP wallahs have a different take on it. According to them, given the fact that a close associate of Gadkari was embroiled in a controversial coal block allocation; they believe that Gadkari was doing a service to the party by remaining absent from the scene.

Scramble over new PCC chiefs in the states

After UP, it is now the turn of other states to get new PCC chiefs. Among the states on the Congress President’s agenda are Haryana, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Bihar, Maharashtra and even Andhra Pradesh. In Bihar, the Congress leadership is undecided about which caste the PCC chief should belong to. With no Muslim PCC chief anywhere, there is an opinion that a Muslim should replace the current PCC chief, who, too, is Muslim. But then if they go for an alliance with Lalu in Bihar, the RJD chief would want the Congress to give them an upper caste Brahmin or Bhumiyar. In Bihar, like UP, they may have four zonal in-charges. In Jharkhand, the name of a tribal influential leader Stephan Marandi is making rounds. Besides being a tribal, he is six times Congress MLA and a former deputy CM. In Haryana, the present PCC chief has suddenly become very active after lying low for the last two years. In Delhi, Jaiprakash Agarwal is set to go. He would be replaced by a Dalit or a Muslim or a person from Purvanchal. There is a tussle between the chief minister and the Congress leadership over who should be the candidate. While the CM Shiela Dikshit wants the person of her choice, but Ahmad Patel and Janardhan Diwedi want one of their own in turn. In Maharashtra, too, the tussle is between the CM and the AICC general secretary incharge Mohan Prakash. Both want person of their own choice.

Jairam’s Land Bill fets stuck for being anti-economy

Despite his flaunting it, Jairam Ramesh’s land bill has got stuck. Many in the Congress believe that the Prime Minister was not convinced at all about this bill. Manmohan Singh and many other key ministers feel that if this land bill is passed, then it would further hit the investment sentiments. The bill that aims to provide compensation to farmers above market rate and also puts in place social impact and many other paraphernalia. The most important factor is that the bill aims to restructure the role of the state governments in acquiring land. It will be restricted to just 20 percent. This is expected to fuel further trouble. It would demoralise the industry at a time when the government and the Prime Minister has called to unleash ‘animal spirit’ in economy. Whereas this bill can discourage the setting up of the industry and make it more expensive.

No wonder, in the cabinet meeting, where the bill was discussed,  not a single minister came in support of Ramesh. The Finance Minister P Chidambaram maintained total silence as Jairam received brickbats. [IPA]
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