Bu Nora Chopra
Taking a cue from her late mother-in-law Indira Gandhi and walking in her footsteps, the Congress president Sonia Gandhi is all set to convert the NDA’s anti-Congress campaign in her favour. After a gap year of demoralization in the wake of its worst ever defeat, the Congress is back in a fighting mode and leading from the front is Sonia Gandhi. Stung by the Modi government’s move to put the UPA prime minister Manmohan Singh in the dock along with other accused in the Coalgate, she has decided to take to the streets. She is said to have got the motivation from Indira Gandhi who was harassed and humiliated by Morarji Desai (also a Gujarati) led the then Janata Party government in the aftermath of the Emergency (just to bounce back in 1980). Sonia is said to have been initially nervous more by Rahul’s absence, who has been under attack both from within the Congress and from the NDA for leaving the party at a crucial time. However, she was then advised to turn the tables on the Modi government, whose ulterior motive is now believed to be implicating her and her two children. It was then that decided to hold a march to Manmohan Singh’ s house, the success of which had given her the courage to lead the joint opposition march on land bill to the president. This too was a bumper success. Now, Sonia will lead the party in all the anti government campaigns. Meanwhile, Rahul will have to wait for some more time to wear the crown as Sonia will continue as president at least till this year ends.
JAGADAMBIKA PAL’S SYCOPHANCY OUTLASTS PARTY CHANGE
Old habits die hard. And this saying is most applicable to the former Congress MP Jagdambika Pal, who now represents the BP in Parliament. Pal is doing exactly what he used to do when he was in the Congress. He is an expert in the Congress tradition of sycophancy. When he was in the Congress, his one-point programme was to see his name in print and face on TV channels praising the Congress president. He was always ready to give bytes either against any Gandhi family critics or praising Sonia’ji and Rahul’ii. Now in BJP, he is doing the same. He is forever obliging the byte hungry scribes. TV journalists have learnt, ‘koi mile na mile Pal to hain hi.’ Whenever the camera starts rolling, he starts praising the prime minister. But is Modi impressed?
GAME IS UP FOR SAJJAN, TYTLER
It is quits for both Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler, the two reeling under the charges of 1984 riots. The Congress leadership is under tremendous pressure to close its doors on both these accused of 1984 riots. Till now, Sajjan Kumar had been the Jat face of the Congress in Delhi, but now it seems the game is over for him. This was evident at the Congress dharna, where Sajjan Kumar was not allowed even to come up to the podium. On Monday, when the entire star brass of the Congress was present on the dais, both Sajjan and Tytler tried to go up the dais, but were stopped by the Youth Congress president Amarinder Raja. He is supposed to have told Ahmad Patel that the presence of these two on the podium would affect the Congress prospects in Punjab. Besides Punjab, the Congress wants to project an alternative leadership that can be effective in the entire Jat belts of Haryana, UP, Rajasthan and Delhi. The Congress leadership wants to encash on the growing disenchantment among the Jats against the BJP-led NDA, which the Jats had supported during the Lok Sabha elections and even during the Haryana assembly election, but voted against in the Delhi assembly election. However, their disenchantment began soon after the BJP placed a non-Jat as its CM in Haryana now after the Jat reservations have been struck down by the courts, their disenchantment is complete. With elections in Punjab fast approaching, the party cannot afford to have Tytler or Sajjan as the Congress faces. The party will not back the ex CM of Haryana Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Instead, it is looking for a fresh Jat face either from Haryana or Rajasthan. Randeep Surejewala is one of the names making rounds. Though his appointment as the media chief is said to be temporary, but soon with the AICC reshuffle he may be adjusted well in the organization.
IT’S SWAMY VS. MODI NOW
Prime Minister Modi, beware. The loose canon Subramanium Swamy, who usually takes his fight to its logical conclusion, has decided to take up the cudgels against Modi this time. The man who was responsible in bringing down the Vajpyee government in 1998, who ensured that Jayalalithaa wears handcuffs, and who dragged Sonia Gandhi to the courts, was heard attacking Modi in Parliament. Swamy is extremely miffed with the PM for not fulfilling his wish of becoming a Rajya Sabha MP. Swamy had been one of the main protagonists of Modi and had worked hard to see the Modi-led BJP come to power. But once in government, the BJP leadership has not paid him in cash or kind. He was recently lobbying hard for a Rajya Sabha seat from Maharashtra where the BJP has formed the government. But Modi knows how to deal with mavericks of the Swamy genre. He was denied the seat but since then Modi has come in his firing line. Modi, unless he patches up with Swamy, could be his next target.
AHMAD PATEL SPRINGS BACK IN ACTION
Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmad Patel is known for being a low profile leader but Congress members are amazed at his recent extrovert behaviour. Patel, who was alleged to be the most inaccessible of the Congress leaders after Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, has suddenly become very active scotching all rumours that he no more enjoys power and that Rahul does not want him, so he does not have any say in the appointments. Despite talk of Sonia taking a backseat, the Congress president has taken the lead and is even planning a padayatra on a larger scale, all on the advice of Patel. Journalists are surprised at the exuberance being shown by Patel. He is seems to be omnipresent. He was there at both the Congress dharnas: the first one being the kisaan rally organised by Jairam Ramesh; and then, also at the protest organised by the Youth Congress boys. He even courted arrest along with the Youth Congress boys. Patel’s exuberance is being seen as a victory of the seniors who wanted Sonia Gandhi to not relinquish the post of the party president to Rahul as yet. That the coronation of the Gandhi scion and the AICC session have been deferred until September is supposed to be Patel’s idea.
ALL THE PAINS FOR HUMBLE PAAN
The former Pakistan foreign minister Shehryar Khan, who is also the chairman of the Pakistan cricket board, is a personal friend of the union minister of finance Arun Jaitley. Jaitley is one of the few people in India with whom he enjoys a personal rapport and he and his wife visit him whenever they are here. And believe it or not, more than Jaitley, they are friends with his lackey Om Prakash, who was one of the three lucky BJP candidates who won in the Delhi assembly election where the saffron party was otherwise just wiped out. The reason is he takes Khan’s wife to Old Delhi to buy masalas which she cannot get in Pakistan and more importantly, he gets her favourite paan. Mrs. Khan is a self-proclaimed paan addict, but it is not available in Pakistan. On Prakash even sends her paan to Pakistan.
CHACKO, AHMAD SWEAT IT OUT OVER DELHI
A battle of sorts is on between the two AICC general secretaries Shakeel Ahmad and PC Chacko over the charge of Delhi. While Ahmad had gone on leave to Canada at the time of Delhi elections, Chacko was made in-charge of Delhi in his absence. Now Ahmad, who is back from his family holiday, wants the charge returned. Ahmad is said to have even met Sonia Gandhi to put forward his case. He has been heard telling people around him that he had gone on leave and Chacko had been handed over the Delhi charge for the interim period. Now that he is back, Chacko should hand over the charge back to him. On the other hand, Chacko is said to have refused to budge. He said that Congress President had given him the charge and only she could take it back. (IPA)