By Rahil Nora Chopra
The 84th plenary session of Congress saw for the first time in the party’s 133-year old history a change in the seating arrangements. In earlier sessions the senior leaders used to sit on the dais and the workers on the floor. This time, however, only the leader addressing the gathering was on the dais, while party president Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi along with other seniors leaders sat on the floor with the workers. There were also more speakers from the youth brigade, with Navjot Singh Sidhu, Rajeev Satav, Sachin Pilot, Raja Barar, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Presh Dhanani, Nadeem Javed, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Sushmita Dev, Deepender Singh Hudda addressing the session. The political resolution adopted at the session said Congress will adopt a pragmatic approach for cooperation with all like minded parties and a work out a common programme against BJP in 2019 elections. There were clear signals of a generational change at the top to mark Rahul Gandhi’s presidentship. The theme of the plenary itself was ‘Waqt hai badlav ka (it’s time for change).
MORE PARTNERS DESERTING NDA
The discontent among the NDA alliance partners is growing stronger. After Shiv Sena and TD, now BJP ally Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) also skipped the event to mark Adityanath government’s one year in power and its president and cabinet minister Om Prakash Rajhbar threatened to leave the NDA. He and his four MLAs have said they would boycott the March 23 Rajya Sabha elections. Although Rajhbar met BJP president Amit Shah, the issue could not apparently be resolved. According to Rajhbar, State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Khanna met him but he did not discuss the Rajya Sabha election and other issues raised by him. Meanwhile, in Maharashtra the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS), which was an ally of the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha and Maharashtra elections, has announced that it will work with the Congress on farmers issues, hinting at a possible pre poll alliance for the 2019 general election. SSS chief and the party’s lone Lok Sabha MP Raju Shetti met Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Delhi this week. AICC general secretary in charge of Maharashtra Mohan Prakash and state Congress chief Ashok Chavan were present during the meeting.
NITISH KEEPS MUM ON BY-ELECTION LOSS
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has not said a word about the result of Araria Lok Sabha and one of the assembly seats which were won by RJD. The result of Jehanabad assembly seat shows that the image of Nitish is going down day by day and there is a sympathy wave in favour of Lalu Prasad Yadav who is presently in jail. The BJP is also worried because of Jitan Ram Manjhi joining hands with RJD, leading to a consolidation of Muslims, Yadav and Dalits.
MAMATA PLAYS A SINGHVI CARD
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has adopted a political strategy to support Abhishek Manu Singhvi for Rajya Sabha seat even before the Congress party declared his name. Although Congress and CPI(M) were planning to field a common candidate, Mamata played a new political card, signaling that she might join hands with Congress to fight BJP.
AGARWAL FINDS NO LIFE OUTSIDE RULING PARTIES
According to sources, it was Shivpal Singh Yadav who informed Akhilesh Yadav that Naresh Chand Agarwal had been in touch with the BJP and he had a closed door meeting with Amit Shah. On the advice of Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh denied Agarwal a Rajya Sabha seat. In 1989 Naresh Chandra Agarwal was in the Congress. Then in 1997 he formed the Loktantrik Congress to support the BJP government in Lucknow. In 2007, he joined the BSP, the same year Mayawati swept to power. He switched to the Samajwadi Party in 2012, the year Akhilesh Yadav became chief minister.
CONGRESS WORKS OUT NEW UP STRATEGY
After the defeat of BJP in the by-election of Phulpur and Gorakhpur, both seats having been won by Samajwadi Party with the help of BSP, Congress is changing its strategy and put a Brahmin as the state party chief, replacing Raj Babbar. Congress feels that a Brahmin leader will be able to consolidate the upper caste votes in UP and by forging an alliance with SP-BSP for the coming Lok Sabha election in 2019, the party stands to benefit. The names under discussion are Pramod Tiwari and Rajesh Mishra. Pramod Tiwari is said to be the front runner because he has good relations with both Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati. (IPA)