By Harihar Swarup
Every political leader has to rely on an outsider or a pointsman to manage his affairs either in Delhi or elsewhere. One such person is Danish Ali, long-time loyalist of former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda. He decided to defect to the BSP with the blessings of Janata Dal (Secular) patriarch H D Kumaraswamy, the Karnataka Chief Minister. Danish Ali, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, left the JD(S) at a time when he was enjoying maximum clout in the party as general secretary. The reason was the lure of Parliament. Thrice Ali failed to get nominated to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka.
He had a dream run last year being involved in the JD(S) tie-up ahead of Karnataka assembly elections and the formation of the coalition government with the support of the Congress after a hung verdict. Ali also coordinated the grand gathering of opposition leaders at Kumaraswamy’s swearing in, and became a member of the coalition coordination committee. The only other member from JD(S) was Kumaraswamy. Yet as spokesmen from other parties, with whom Danish Ali sparred regularly on prime time, got Rajya Sabha seat, he started looking for right opportunity.
During the BSP-JD(S) negotiations, Ali had impressed Mayawati, who was scouting for Muslim faces. Once he convinced the BSP supremo, Ali won over Deve Gowda, too, with the unusual move of seeking permission to defect. Deve Gowda, who is unlikely to field a Muslim from party’s eight-seat quota for the Lok Sabha elections, was also sending a message to the Muslim voters in Karnataka. It was an arrangement, which suited the shrewd former Prime Minister, who used Ali as the point-person for non-BJP opposition parties.
Another politician who relied on an outsider for Delhi politics has been Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav. He depended on Haryana businessman Prem Gupta, who went on to become a Rajya Sabha member and a junior minister in the Manmohan Singh government. Otherwise regional parties with specific influence in their own states use someone from the state to be the point person in Delhi.
Mayawati has depended on her former advocate general Satish Chandra Mishra, a Rajya Sabha MP. DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi always deputed a family member who was fluent in English. The role passed from his nephew Mursoli Maran, who was minister in the governments of V P Singh, Deve Gowda, I K Gujral and A B Vajpayee, to Maran’s son Dayanidhi, who was minister under Manmohan Singh. Now under his son M K Stalin, the role is fulfilled by Karunanidhi’s younger daughter Kanimozhi.
While Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray preferred former Maharashtra minister Manohar Joshi to be his point-person, his successor, Uddhav prefers journalist-turned-politician Sanjay Raut, rather than the Union ministers of Sena.
However, regional leaders who have served as senior cabinet ministers in Delhi like Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik, have dealt directly with parties in the national capital. Both Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh have dealt with other politicians themselves because of their innings in Parliament, but, otherwise, the Delhi resident for Yadav clan is Mulayam’s brother Ram Gopal.
Though he was never an MP or union minister, Chandrababu Naidu keeps his connection in Delhi from time to time he was convener of the United Front government, when his Telugu Desam Party lent crucial support to Vajpayee in 1999.
Danish Ali has missed a stint in Parliament so far. He hopes to work out with the BSP. On the one hand, Deve Gowda is hopeful of sending two grandsons to Delhi and hopes they would build networks for the party. Maybe with little help from Danish Ali. (IPA Service)