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Who will win the grudge fight?

Large number of leaders of a major political party and eminent persons from other outfits have been chanting NaMo, NaMo presently. Apart from this many leaders of the party are also suffering from a political disease called ‘Namonia’ coinciding with the just concluded meeting of the National Executive Committee.

The NaMo effect has resulted in strains among the two major constituents of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) whose family has been shrinking since 2009 when it lost power at the Centre.
The party is standing at the crossroads amidst Modi (shortened as NaMo) being announced as the chairman of BJP Campaign Committee for the Lok Sabha elections to be held in 2014 and the sound of NaMo getting louder with every passing day.The supporters and opponents of Modi seem to be getting ready for a long tussle as they have started defying the dictates of their mother organisation.
In the background of NaMo chant in various parts of the country, one may like to take note of another NaMo from Rajasthan,  the present Union minister of state (MOS), Narain Meena. He may also be termed as ‘NaMo of Rajasthan’.  For Meena, it has been a journey from an IPS officer to a successful union minister. In 2009, Narain Meena, as a Congress candidate defeated a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate and a major architect of Gujjar reservation movement, Kirori Lal Bainsla.  Meena remained a mute spectator during the Gujjar agitation even after the issue became a direct clash of interests between Meenas and Gujjars in the state. Despite being a second term Lok Sabha member and an MOS in 2004, he was not considered for the post of the chief minister of his state.

Prior to the election for the 16th Lok Sabha in 2014, Rajasthan would go for poll sometime in November this year. The political mercury has started increasing with the launch of two different yatras by the present chief minister Ashok Gehlot and a former chief minister Vasundhara Raje. The Assembly Election would provide an opportunity to indirectly elect the 14th chief minister of the state. Rajasthan has been ruled by 11 Congress chief ministers and two BJP incumbents from April 1949 onwards. During the same period, Mohanlal Sukhadia was sworn in as the chief minister four times in a row, BJP’s Bhairon Singh Shekhawat three times and J N Vyas, S C Mathur, Hari Dev Joshi and Ashok Gehlot twice. Sukhadia had the longest stint of around 11 years. The Congress party also elevated a minority member Barkatullah Khan once in 1971.  He expired during his tenure as the chief minister in 1973. The first Congress chief minister was Heera Lal Shastri, the present one being Ashok Gehlot.

Rajasthan was the only state where a coalition called Samyukta Vidhayak Dal government could not take over like it did in other northern states like West Bengal and Orissa after 1967 general election. The Congress lost assembly elections in most of the northern and other states resulting in an experiment of coalition of all non-Congress parties.

In Rajasthan, Maharaja Laxman Singh of Swatantra Party, with the then Jan Sangh and other parties paraded his so-called majority legislators before the then President but the venture proved to be futile exercise. Meanwhile Sukhadia could manage another term for his party. The present scenario is looking clear, the direct fight between the present chief minister Ashok Gehlot and the BJP leader and former chief minister Vasundhara Raje seems to be on the card despite dissensions in their respective parties in the state.

In case Gehlot gets through, he would be taking charge for the third term and if luck favours Raje, she would hold the baton of the state for her second term.  Both the leaders have been attracting large crowds in various districts. The battle lines have since been drawn and both the leaders are known for their mass appeal. The clout of Gehlot in the central leadership of his party has always been sound whereas Raje had to overcome large scale resistance from her opponents in the party to establish her supremacy.

From 1998 onwards the state has been electing one party after another effecting change in assembly elections. The BJP once recaptured power by winning a little less seats than majority, that too under the leadership of Shekhawat whereas Raje was the only BJP leader to win an absolute majority.  The real fever of election is yet to be felt.

In case the Congress high command or party vice-president at any later stage decides to go for a young leader, the choice probably would be restricted between the two union ministers, Sachin Pilot and Bhanwar Jitender Singh. The then prime minister and Congress president took such a decision in Madhya Pradesh by replacing the newly elected chief minister Arjun Singh by appointing him as governor of a disturbed state of Punjab. The party might have been taking decisions keeping in view the present political compulsions.  Both the leaders are young and promising and both are holding independent charge as MOSs. Both have charming personalities and have never faced defeat.  One has to wait for the future to unveil the result at an appropriate time.
The author is a communication consultant

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