By Nora Chopra
Sharad Yadav has won only one Lok Sabha election and is considered to be a leader without mass base. But, of late, it is Sharad Yadav who has emerged as the tallest leader of the opposition and is leading the brigade in Rajya Sabha too. Though the Congress is still the largest opposition party in the Upper House but it is Sharad Yadav of the JD(U) and Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M) who set the agenda of the day. In the absence of Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Congress leaders have failed to act like a cohesive opposition. It is only Yechury and Yadav who decide the strategy of the opposition and the Congress leaders are left with little choice but to fall in line. Given the lack of choice, a large section within the Congress would like to support the BJP on most issues on the excuse that it is in keeping with the Congress line. But for Sharadji and Sitaram they are forced to toe the opposition line. On the other hand, the BJP’s clever run Jaitley is leaving out no chances of using his cross-party connections to get away with what he wants. It is only because of Yadav and Yechury that the government is finding itself helpless.
CONGRESS LEADERS FISH BEYOND GANDHI WATERS
A section of the dejected Congress leadership has started to explore options outside the Gandhi family. The feeling gaining ground is that under the present dispensation (pointing at perhaps Rahul Gandhi) it is impossible for the Congress to recover its losses. The feeling within these sections, which seem to be giving up hope on the Gandhis, is that this is the time to unify the Congress family and move forward on the lines of the socialist parivar. They plan to bring back the Mamata-led TMC and Sharad Pawar-led NCP and in Tamil Nadu Wasan-led Tamil Manila Congress. After 1984, the Congress has never got a majority on its own under the Gandhis. Even in 1991, Narasimha Rao could only form a minority government that too after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. In 1996, under Rao, the Congress numbers fell to 140 and in 1998, under Sitaram Kesri, the party strength in parliament was 141. In 1999, under Sonia Gandhi the numbers fell to 114 and in 2004 Sonia could raise it only upto 145 just four more than Kesri but she was wise enough to form an alliance with the left democratic forces to form the government. But in 2009 too, the party failed to get an absolute majority though the numbers swelled to 202. But that was courtesy Manmohan Singh, claim those opposing Rahul Gandhi. That was his chance but he missed it says a senior ex minister. This section, which is in favour of coming together of the large Congress family, comprises senior Congress leaders and ex ministers who can neither join the BJP, nor can they resurrect the party on their own shoulders. They think that given Sonia Gandhi’s health and Rahul’s incompetence, it is time for the party to look beyond the Gandhis.
SUPREME COURT STILL GOING SOFT ON BIG FAT INDIAN MEDIA HOUSE
The forty-year delay in the L N Mishra case has brought to light several other pending cases in Indian courts. A high profile case is the tussle over the patent infringement of The Financial Times by India’s largest media house. The case has been dragging on for 20 years, in the Supreme Court itself is going on for four years. SC was expected to deliver the final judgement in November 2014, but the same has yet to see the light of the day. The delay is caused by clever lawyering by the legal brain of the Indian media company. Narendra Modi government is keen to improve India’s rank in ease of doing business index to at least 50 from the current 142. But such inordinate delay in the high profile cases will not help the cause. Given the importance of the media house, both the court and the government seem to be keeping low profile on the issue.
EX YOUNG CONGRESS PRESIDENTS CHASTISE RAHUL
The Youth Congress organised a get-together of all its ex presidents two weeks ago, a programme that was attended by Rahul Gandhi. Here too, the Congress vice-president sought suggestions on how to revive the dwindling party. Rahul faced a barrage of criticism at the meet. Ramesh Chennithala, the minister from Kerala who was the ex youth Congress president of Kerala, was highly critical of Rahul Gandhi’s style of functioning. He asked Rahul whether he was running a political outfit or an NGO. One SP Goswami, the ex youth Congress president of Uttar Pradesh, was extremely upset over the manner the Congress leadership was treating its workers. He told Rahul why should anyone work for the party when its leaders do not have any ties with its workers.
NO PARTY FOR THIS PARTY-HOPPER
Ashish Ranjan Sinha, the former DGP of police in Bihar, who quit his job to join politics has already acquired the reputation of a party hopper. He was desperate to contest the2009 election, so he joined the JD(U) as he was considered close to the then chief minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar. Also a Kurmi, he belonged to Nitish’s home district. But Nitish did not oblige him with the ticket that he was lobbying so hard for. Then he moved over to Lalu Prasad’s RJD, the then archrival of Nitish Kumar. He was then spotted at all the rallies by Lalu Prasad and was widely expected to be the RJD candidate from Nalanda in the general elections of 2014. But here too luck failed him. The prestigious seat went to Congress under the pre poll alliance with the RJD. This prompted Sinha to join the Congress and get its ticket but again the erstwhile DGP failed to make it. He came third. He recently joined the BJP with the realisation that he had no scope in the grand alliance of the JD(U) RJD and the Congress.
SOUTHERN PROMISES FIZZLE OUT FOR BJP
BJP’s dream of expanding its base to a pan-India level is unlikely to come true. The grand alliances stitched in Tamil Nadu before the Lok Sabha elections have already started to fall like ninepins. Vaiko has already severed its ties with BJP on the issue of Sri Lanka. He has alleged that the Prime Minister Modi is promoting the Sri Lankan president Rajapaksha. PMK too is on its way out. The PMK chief Dr Ramadoss, too, is unhappy with the BJP and even Vijaykanth who had joined hands with the BJP after severing its ties with the Congress, has warned the BJP must keep its promise and would make him the CM if the alliance comes to power in the state. And that he wants an assurance from the BJP leadership if the BJP wants him to support.
DAYS OF JHOLAWALAS OVER: RAHUL TO CONGRESS
The Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is very keen to revive the Indian National Congress. To find a solution to this problem, Rahul has started taking classes of top Congress leaders. He has been meeting these leaders in batches. In one such batch, which had important leaders like Ahmad Patel, Manish Tiwari, Mohan Prakash. Rahul asked the definition of the Congress. He even sought suggestions on how to revive the moribund Congress he asked them to tell him if the BJP stood for Hindutva, then what did the Congress stand for. While each one had a different answer but some like Ahmad Patel is supposed to have said that the word secularism should be replaced by some other word. He is supposed to have said secularism is misused by the saffron forces and has come to be personified more as Muslim appeasement. Mohan Prakash, who himself is a socialist turned capitalist, said that the party should recruit full time jhola chaap volunteers who should sit at paanwala shops and get the public view. He gave his own example: when he started as a socialist, he said this was what he did. But at this Rahul is supposed to have rejected the idea and said the days of paanwala are over. Manish Tiwari was of the opinion that the party does not have to fight the BJP alone but it is the corporates that the party has to fight.
RIO, SANGMA EYE JANATA PARIVAR
The three times ex-chief minister of Nagaland Neiphiu Rio, who joined the BJP before the elections on the promise that he would made a minister, is not very happy. He waited till the first expansion of the Union Cabinet, but when he failed to find a place even in that reshuffle he now wants to quit the BJP. Recently, he, along with PA Sangma, met the JD(U) president Sharad Yadav and expressed his desire to join this new socialist formation. Yadav is supposed to have told them to wait for some time and then they can join once things settle down. Meanwhile, many other leaders across the country have been meeting Sharad Yadav. Yadav is in touch with certain leaders from Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Odisha also. Even if two new leaders join the Janata Parivar, then that would send a good message, says Sharad Yadav. (IPA)