By Sushil Kutty
The day is Monday, June 25, 2018. Sunrise was at 5.24 am and sunset at 7.22 pm in New Delhi. Daylight for 13 hours and 57 minutes, time enough to make headlines. And making off to a flying start was BJP’s Karnal MP Ashwani Chopra. In a rant-moment he described popular Himachali singer-dancer Sapna Chaudhary a ‘Thumke Wali’ because she said she will campaign for the Congress.
Meanwhile, at least one political analyst, reading Rahul Gandhi, concluded that he has succeeded to suppress his ‘inner Ronaldo’ and has summoned his ‘inner Messi’. Messi is a team player and Ronaldo is a buccaneer, prone to have a ball on his own. But, says the analyst, the team – the mahagathbandhan – doesn’t want Rahul to be striker because he lacks skills to put the ball past Amit Shah. For that you need the guile of a Mayawati and the cunning of a Mamata.
The assessment is the grand alliance faces ‘do or die’ battles in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Like Senegal and Japan faced Sunday night in the World Cup. A draw was all they could net and the suspense continues. Columbia, on the other hand, beat Poland 3:0. And England trounced Panama 6-1.
Those are the kind of victories the alliance is aiming for. But with confidence lacking, and a consensus in leadership not emerging, the ‘mahagathbandhan’ is stuck at half-line. And the Congress is splitting away. Congress in-charge of Chhattisgarh KL Punia says his party will win the state on its own ballast.
It also appears the Congress rank and file doesn’t believe in this whole alliance thing. They cite the after-effects of JD(S)-Congress alliance in Karnataka as a case in point: Hardworking Siddaramaiah is in the deep and lazy-lampoon HD Kumaraswamy is top of the heap. What a travesty!
The Congress worker wants the party revived, not other parties given a leg-up. ‘No more charity’ is the mood. Charity begins at home. Maybe right, maybe very right! But, poor guys, they don’t know who’s in need of votes, and who has got the votes to transfer. Like they say, ‘a sucker’s born every minute…’
The Congress party’s ‘so far and not any further’ policy on Arvind Kejriwal’s ‘sofa-fast’ has also not gone down well with the anti-Modi alliance. Kejriwal got support from non-BJP chief ministers but the Congress has its chestnuts in the fire. One of them is Delhi and the other is Punjab where the AAP is a complete pain…
Of course, it has dawned on the Congress that Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav do not want to do favours to the Congress and Rahul. Congress comes with baggage. Rahul ‘Ronaldo’ or Rahul ‘Messi’ doesn’t matter to ‘bua Mayawati’ and ‘bhatija Akhilesh’. If Mulayam Singh Yadav was around, it would have been ‘kushti’, but he’s in the mud-pit with feet of clay.
That said, and this has been said before, the Congress truly doesn’t need the ‘alliance’ in Madhya Pradesh or Rajasthan and, now, like it says, in Chhattisgarh, too. In fact, where’s the SP in MP or Rajasthan and how strong is the BSP in MP and Chhattisgarh? The reality is the Congress covers more ground pan-India.
Mamata is Mamata in West Bengal alone. Mayawati is Mayawati only in Uttar Pradesh. C Babu Naidu will get his beard cropped outside Andhra Pradesh and HDK will be a lost boy outside pockets of Karnataka. Pinaryi Vijayan will find Malayalees everywhere but most of them will vote Congress. As for Arvind Kejriwal, he’s a lost case, unless sections of the NRI are complete dolts.
The reckoning is that Congress is “relevant” in around 280 of the 540 odd Lok Sabha seats. And, in the current scenario, it could win 100+. Wins in MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh will change the picture completely and “then we’ll talk alliance, okay?”
Besides, Rahul Gandhi has made it clear he wants to become PM. For the Congress worker that alone counts. And, for all we know, Pranab Mukherjee cannot betray. At 82, one last fling is too much to expect from a man who’s outside the ring. Citizen Pranab hasn’t said a word on the alliance and not one against the Congress.
Finally, appointing Jairam Ramesh campaign coordinator for the 2019 general elections may have its minuses but he’s just written a book on Indira Gandhi’s hatchet PN Haksar and what Haksar cannot teach very few can. In conclusion, there will be many sunrises and sunsets before the next general elections, but by this time next year, we’ll know whose ‘thumka’ won the day and whose did not. The Congress’s or the BJP’s? The grand alliance minus the Congress – pre- or post-poll – will be nowhere on stage to shake a hip. (IPA Service)