By Rahil Nora Chopra
The AICC session, taking place over the next couple of days, is expected to reinforce Congress party’s new line of distancing itself from the image of being a pro-Muslim party and further the soft Hindutva line. As part of this approach, Rahul Gandhi has been visiting various Hindu temples. His grand mother Indira Gandhi was a regular visitor to the temples and used to keep close links with gurus. In the 2014 elections, the BJP and RSS had quite successfully projected Congress as a pro-Muslim party, which cost it dearly. The session is also expected to see the theme of opposition unity take an important place in the deliberations as the party seeks to put up a united opposition front led by Sonia Gandhi.for the 2019 general elections. On 13 March, the UPA chairperson had invited leaders of 19 opposition parties for a dinner in which all the leaders favoured coordinated efforts to be taken in this direction. Notable among the attendees were Sharad Yadav from Bhartiya Tribal Party, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, SP Leader Ram Gopal Yadav, Kanimozhi from DMK, MD Salim from CPI(M), D Raja from CPI, Omar Abdullah from National Conference, Satish Chandra Mishra from BSP, Sudip Bandyopadhyay from TMC, Hemant Soren from JMM, Babu Lal Marande from JVM, Ajit Singh from RLD, Misa Bharti and Tejasvi Yadav from RJD, Baddrauddin Ajmal from AIUDF, Ramchandran from RSP, Hindustan Awam Morcha Chief Jitan Ram Manjhi, Kunjhali Kutti from IUML, Dr. Kupender Reddy from JDS and a representative of Kerala Congress.
NAIDU’S CASE SPOILED BY FINANCE COMMISSION
Whenever a state is divided to carve out new states, the central government promises support and often a special status for the new state for at least five years, along with financial help to build their own capital and other infrastructure. But these were invariably accompanied by political games, played by the party in the power at the centre. While there has been much controversy over the BJP government’s inability to help alliance partner Telugu Desam party-ruled Andha Pradesh, the fact remains that it is very difficult to give Special Status to Andhra Pradesh ignoring the long-standing demands of Bihar, Telangana, Uttarakhand and Chattisgarh for similar special status. Bihar has been demanding special status for several years and chief minister Nitish Kumar is very upset with the inability to get financial help or special status from the Centre. The opposition parties are, in fact, making a fuss over this issue. Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has already declared his intention to work for the formation of a Third Front due to his frustration of not getting special help from the Centre. Union finance minister Arun Jaitley explained to Chandrababu Naidu that such a category did exist when the state was bifurcated in 2014, but after the 14th Finance Commission’s award such treatment was constitutionally restricted to just North Eastern and three hill states, including Jammu and Kashmir.
WILY MOVES BY NITISH KEEP EVERYONE GUESSING
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is playing his cards carefully and as former chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha chief Jitan Ram Manjhi joined hands with RJD after feeling ignored in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), he straightaway got into action and engineered a split in the Congress Legislative Party, taking 4 MLCs into his party. There were six Congress MLCs in state, but now there are only a couple left. The first to join Nitish was former Bihar Congress president Ashok Chaudhary, followed by the son in law of Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan while Dalit Sena president Anil Kumar Sadhu joined RJD. Everyone is keenly watching for the next move by Nitish Babu.
UTTARAKHAND INFIGHTING SPREADS TO GOVERNMENT
The infighting in Uttarakhand BJP seems to be raging with no end in sight. Recently, the tourism department organised an International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh, which brought the differences between Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat and Tourism Minister Satpal Maharaj into the open. Agriculture Minister Subodh Uniyal criticised the programme, in which a rock band from Liverpool was invited to perform. The Chief Minister, minister Harak Singh Rawat and Dhan Singh Rawat supported the Parmarth Niketan Yoga Mohatsav in place of International Yoga Festival. The tourism department, however, was in toe to support the Parmarth Niketan Yog Mohatsav, ignoring its own event. (IPA)