Millennium Post

What an odd battle!


Rahul Gandhi may have declared that he is not in the PM race, but he is the undisputed and unanimous choice of the Congress, unlike his BJP counterpart Narendra Modi, who is a disputed leader. Modi may have the support of the corporates and the BJP workers, but he enjoys no support among the top leadership. When in Jaipur, after Rahul delivered his now famous speech, there was a spontaneous standing ovation. Everyone, including journalists, stood up to give him the applause. Every one had moist eyes. But for Modi, there was no such ovation. Rajnath Singh had to tell the BJP brass to get up and give him the standing ovation because he had won the third time. While Rahul has no scar on him, and has a clean slate, Modi has blood on his hands. Despite several rounds of Congress defeats in UP and other states led by Rahul, he continues to campaign in all the states and will also lead the Lok Sabha campaign in 2014. But there is a question mark on Modi, who got elected for the third time, whether he will campaign in Karnataka. Sources claim he is reluctant to lead the campaign in Karnataka where the BJP is set to lose power. Rahul, like his mother, has the guts to shun power, but Modi is out to grab power. This is the difference between the Congress scion Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi.


Narendra Modi is unlikely to be the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate for 2014. The Bharatiya Janata Party is unlikely to project anyone as their prime minister before going to polls. The party is divided and unlike the Congress, where there is no contender to Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi faces a tough competition both from within the BJP and the NDA. The thinking in the party and NDA is that Modi is basically the candidate of the corporates, as is evident after Gautam Adani and Suresh Prabhu pulling out of the Wharton conference, and the manner in which Sriram (of Sri Ram College of Commerce) backed his Delhi visit. However, Modi is not the only candidate. Sushma Swaraj, being the Leader of opposition in Lok Sabha is the shadow PM and definitely a contender. Shivraj Chauhan, who too rattled all his achievements at the BJP’s national executive, is hoping to get the BJP elected third time, and is very much in the race. Then Rajnath Singh himself is serious contender for the post. If he can get a substantial number for the BJP and a good number in UP then he would be more acceptable both to RSS and the NDA. And amidst all this Lal Krishna Advani can still be the consensus candidate.


An undeclared war of wits has broken out between Sushilkumar Shinde and P Chidambaram. If the buzz in the UPA and a section of the Congress is to be believed, then Shinde, a Dalit, is a victim of a conspiracy allegedly hatched by his predecessor P Chidambaram and the upper caste lobby within the home ministry. P Chidambaram, who is a keen contender of Congress to be the PM in 2014, is said to be back playing the same game that he played with Pranab Mukherjee. Now that Mukherjee is out of the race, Shinde is the next target. Being a Dalit and a Gandhi loyalist with little vision, he is seen to emerge as one of the few other Gandhi family choices. The other choices are Sheila Dikshit, Meira Kumar and Digvijay Singh, besides Chidambaram. It is said that the home ministry continues to be controlled by Chidambaram. The home secretary RK Singh and the Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar, who are both P C appointees, do not listen to the home minister. Shinde has been blaming both the police commissioner and the home secretary that they do not even consult him. Shinde has been telling people, who approach him for some problem in Delhi, to wait till Neeraj Kumar retires as he is beyond his control. The recent goof up by Shinde, where he read out the names of the rape victims of Maharashtra in Parliament, is said to be the part of the conspiracy hatched by RK Singh and the upper caste lobby of his ministry to show Shinde in poor light and as an inefficient home minister. The paper went through many hands including RK Singh before it reached the hands of Shinde. Trusting his officers, the home minister just read out the paper that carried the names of the rape victims. The upper caste lobby within the Congress is unable to digest the fact that a Dalit is the home minister. It was this lobby that forced him to apologise on his ‘Hindu terror’ remark.


The NCP chief Sharad Pawar is a man to watch. 2014 is his last innings and he will leave no stone unturned to emerge the consensus candidate for the prime ministership in the next coalition. He has friends in all parties and he has kept all options open. Pawar will have no problem in seeking support either from the BJP-led NDA, nor would BJP have any problem in supporting Pawar. In their bid to isolate the Congress and keep any Congress-supported formation out of power, the BJP-led NDA can support Pawar. The tension between the Congress and Pawar is on the rise. It was very palpable at a book release function last week. At the function of the Marathi translation of Rasheed Kidwai’s 24 Akbar Road, Pawar was quite critical of the Congress.

He said that he did not leave the Congress, indicating that he was actually expelled from the party. Further, he added that he would not say anything about the events that led to his departure from the Congress because he does not want to rock the UPA boat. He said that no party in the next 20-25 years could think of forming the government on its own.

Coalitions will be there in the coming decades. Giving example of other countries, he said even Italy and Japan have coalition governments. Attacking the Nehru-Gandhi family in a tongue-in-cheek style, he said that the family’s contributions in freedom struggle cannot be denied but then there were others too whose contributions cannot be ignored.

He named Tilak, who he said made Congress a  mass-base party. (IPA)
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