Millennium Post

Old guard back in the play

Congress in backchannel talks

After the results of the assembly polls in the Hindi heartland, it has become clear the finale in the general election will be whether it will be a Congress or a BJP supported government. The Congress leadership, which has reconciled to its possible defeat in 2014 elections, is now working on a Delhi-like agenda where at least it can stop the BJP from forming the government. It is supposed to have sent feelers to two women leaders of the country, one Jayalalithaa from southern India and the other Mayawati from northern India. Despite Rahul Gandhi’s aversion to backroom politics, Buta Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmad Patel have already started working on the agenda they are best at. They have started back channel talks in UP or in West Bengal. Ghulam Nabi and Patel are reported to be in touch with Mamata. Patel and Buta Singh are also said to be talking to Mayawati and Buta Singh and Azad are having back channel talks with Amma. All three, particularly Amma and Mayawati, are being convinced that even if they do not have any alliance with Congress they should have no truck with the BJP and in return they can get the throne of India – they can become the prime minister of the country with the Congress support. Not a bad idea for all three but who would be the lucky one only time will tell.

Congress split over Rahul’s role

The rank and file of the Congress leadership is divided over projecting Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate for 2014 against Narendra Modi. There is a growing feeling within a section of the party, mainly the senior leaders, that this is not the right time to project Rahul as the grand old party is going through one of the worst periods of its 124 years of existence. Rahul, according to these leaders, cannot match the cunningness and the wiliness of Modi and it would only be suicidal to throw the young man to the wolves. This section feels that in an atmosphere charged against the Congress, it will be a political hara-kiri. It would be in the interest of the party to play a political card. On the other hand, the clamour for Rahul among the younger leaders of the party is growing by the day. They want his name to be declared when the Congress leadership meets on 17 January for a one-day AICC session. The pressure has even mounted in the wake of the Prime Minister clearing the decks for Rahul by announcing his retirement. The decision, if at all, has to come it is likely to come after the meeting of the Congress working committee on 16 January.

Manmohan’s press conference was ‘arranged’

When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who by now has come to be known as mauni baba on the likes of his guru PV Narasimha Rao, decided to hold a press conference it surprised one and all both in the media and in political circles. But very few people know that the press conference was fixed by his political masters to clear the decks for Rahul Gandhi. He was directed by his masters to announce his retirement to felicitate the party’s decision to announce Rahul as the PM. It also gave Manmohan Singh an honourable exit and an easy entry for the crown prince without anyone even batting an eyelid. Meanwhile, Manmohan Singh was also given the quid pro quo deal of being exonerated by the party leadership contrary to the demands of the party to make Singh the sacrificial lamb on 17 January for the recent defeats in the four Hindi speaking states. The PM is supposed to have been conveyed the warning. The PC was fixed by two AICC appointees the PM’s political adviser Pankaj Pachauri and the I&B minister Manish Tiwari. The list of names read out by the I&B minister to ask questions were sent by the media department of the AICC. The questions were fixed two days in advance as most of the questions revolved around Rahul Gandhi. Though PM did not take Rahul’s name anywhere, most of the questions put to him were about Rahul’s anointment. All questions were substandard as were the answers.

Delhi BJP worried about Lok Sabha poll

The BJP and the RSS have reasons to worry. The emergence of Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party can cause a serious threat to the traditionally core support base of the Vaish Bania community. If the Delhi election results are any barometer, then Kejriwal is seen as the first Vaish leader after CB Gupta. He has successfully weaned away the bania votes. The AAP could get seven vaish candidates elected that include Kejriwal himself and Somnath Bharti who contested from a non-vaish seat. The BJP, whose CM candidate Harsh Vardhan and the PCC President Vijay Goel both are from the vaish community, could get just three vaish leaders elected. This includes Harsh Vardhan from Kishen Nagar, a non bania constituency; Nand Kishore Garg from the bania dominated constituency of Trinagar and Ram Kishen Singhal from Adarsh Nagar, also a bania dominated constituency. Out of the 13 vaish-dominated constituencies, AAP has managed to get eight candidates elected. But this does not include Kejriwal or Somnath Bharti, the two out of the five vaish leaders elected on the AAP symbol. BJP could bag only five seats out of the13 bania dominated seats. Kejriwal has worked out this in a very subtle manner without trumpeting his caste. To woo the upper caste middle classes, he has made corruption an issue and identified himself with his alumni the IIT. 47 IITians and IIMs applied for tickets but all were denied except Somnath Bharti got the ticket and of course Kejriwal himself is an IITian.

Gandhi siblings, Kejriwal vouch for Vipassana

Believe it or not the Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal has something common with the Gandhi siblings. Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka are known to practice Vipassana but so does Arvind Kejriwal. Whenever he has a problem he disappears to do Vipassana. During the peak of his election campaign with just a few days to go for the elections, Kejriwal disappeared leaving everyone in his party baffled. Nobody knew where was Arvind. The partymen sounded a hunt for him but failed to get to him. He returned after three days rejuvenated and ready for elections. It was then that he revealed that he had gone to some Vipassana centre in Sohna. For Congress leadership too, it may be a revelation that their vice-president is into practicing Vipasana. When Janardhan Dwivedi was asked whether he practices Vipassana, he replied curtly that only unbalanced people practice Vipassana to gain balance.

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