By Rahil Nora Chopra
The political buzz around the formation of a third front is back. While talk of a third front has been recurrent, the key difference this time is that NCP supremo, Sharad Pawar, one of the sharpest and most experienced leaders in Indian politics, is being seen as playing a big role. Pawar has met with ace election strategist Prashant Kishor. Mamata Banerjee has told the media in Kolkata that it was she who had sent Kishor to talk to Pawar. The Kishor-Pawar power-lunch was held to discuss the recipe for a successful political khichdi that would eventually help in dislodging Modi-Shah duo from the centre. Meanwhile, prominent opposition leaders and civil society members assembled at Sharad Pawar’s residence the very next day and discussed the issue of rising fuel prices, unemployment and need for creating an alternative vision in the country. NCP’s Nawab Malik declared that the meeting reflected how Pawar would be working to unite the opposition. The meeting was called by TMC leader Yashwant Sinha on behalf of Rashtra Manch, an anti BJP platform that he co-founded in 2018. Congress leaders were invited for the event but no one showed up. However, Pawar made it clear that no discussion of a third front could take place without involving the Congress. Other than the Congress, the DMK, the RJD and the BSP too did not send in any representatives.
AICC PANEL SUBMITS PUNJAB REPORT, RAHUL MEETS STATE LEADERS
After the submission of report by three-member panel of the Congress on Punjab to resolve factionalism in its state unit, party president Sonia Gandhi is likely to take the decision on the matter of Punjab government and on the structural and organisational changes in the state by early July. AICC general secretary in-charge of the state, Harish Rawat, has mentioned that the AICC panel had already submitted its Punjab report to the Congress chief. According to sources, the panel had also urged Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for time-bound implementation of 18 major poll promises of the Congress, including action on Bargari sacrilege, drug issues, sand mining and transport mafia. However, the central leadership has ruled out a change in leadership, given that elections are only months away. The committee has emphasised the need for unity, which seems difficult at this stage given Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu’s public posturing against CM Singh. Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi met state unit chief Sunil Jakhar, finance minister Manpreet Badal and Punjab MPs Manish Tewari and Partap Bajwa and sought their assessment of Congress prospects and the steps needed to be taken to ensure a victory in 2022.
MANISH TEWARI TO BE NEW PUNJAB STATE UNIT PRESIDENT ?
A change of guard seems imminent with the All India Congress Committee (AICC) looking for a suitable replacement for current Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Sunil Jakhar. Rahul Gandhi held a top-level meeting with former Union minister and Anandpur Sahib MP, Manish Tewari, and sought his assessment of Congress prospects and the steps needed to ensure a victory in the 2022 Assembly polls. The meeting lasted for two hours. Sources said that Manish Tewari and Vijay Inder Singla are the frontrunners for the post of state president in Punjab. Tewari is a known face in Delhi and Punjab’s political circles and has the backing of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. Moreover, he can be appointed to woo the non-Sikh voters in the state.
AMIT SHAH REMAINS MODI’S CHIEF CONFIDANT DESPITE BENGAL DEBACLE
After the BJP’s debacle at the West Bengal assembly elections, there are whispers of Amit Shah not enjoying the same kind of trust of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he once did. Shah had removed himself from media glare for a while, but after a brief period of lying low, he has once again resurfaced and dashed the hopes of his critics. Shah was the first leader that the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, drove to meet after landing in Delhi. Recently, Adityanath was in Delhi to meet the PM and party president JP Nadda amid murmurs of discontent against him. Again, Shah’s residence saw considerable activity when members of Parliament came to meet the leader amid growing expectations of a cabinet expansion. The buzz was that Shah had conducted an interview of sorts to fill vacancies in the council of ministers. Now, it shows that Shah remains the Modi confidant and number two in the government.
TMC EYES TRIPURA IN 2023, BJP BRACES TO DEFEND TURF
After winning the Bengal assembly election, the TMC now seems to be targeting the BJP-ruled Tripura. The state is going to polls in 2023. The speculation is rife that several disgruntled BJP members of the legislative assembly might defect to TMC. While BJP tried to dismiss the claim as unsubstantiated rumours, but senior leaders rushed to Agartala to sort things out within the Tripura unit and with the ally IPF, the Indigenous People’s Front. The party admitted that there were differences but insisted that everything had been sorted out. The ghar wapsi of the senior BJP leader Mukul Roy to TMC seems to have sparked off the rumour. Several BJP MLAs in Tripura are close to Roy. Now the battle for Tripura has began and the BJP has a lot at stake, having won the state with hard work and planning. On the other hand, TMC has everything to gain after having lost all its MLAs to the BJP in 2017 and being unable to win a single seat in 2018. On the other hand, the main opposition, i.e., the Congress and the Left are struggling to even stay in the political arena. (IPA)