It is believed that when the cats are away, the mice will play, and that is exactly what is happening in the Uttar Pradesh Congress headquarters in Lucknow these days.
All top party leaders, along with Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president Raj Babbar, are in New Delhi, either planning party programmes or participating in them. The Congress yatras have kept the state leadership away from Lucknow and while they are working to resurrect the Congress in the coming Assembly elections, the second-rung leaders are working to dismantle their plans.
Afternoons in the UPCC headquarters are devoted to exchange of gossip with mediapersons and reports of political strategist Prashant Kishor planning to quit the campaign are planted from here.
A veteran party leader rightly remarked that the biggest rival of the party in Uttar Pradesh is the party itself.
“Our leaders love running down the party in public and have no fear of action being taken against them. No one can dare to indulge in this kind of talk in the BJP, BSP or SP but in the Congress, it is a free for all. Before reviving the party, the leadership should take note of such leaders who have no work except gossiping,” he said.
And Team Prashant Kishor could not agree more this time.
Stirring a hornet’s nest
Union minister for micro, small and medium enterprises Giriraj Singh did not know his “misadventure” in Odisha would never go unpunished. A day after he blamed former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for the country’s youths not being skilled because of his “faulty” policies, he was shown black flags by Congress activists. Congress activists tried to intercept the minister’s vehicle but were stopped by policemen.
“He (Giriraj Singh) is a Union minister. On the one hand, he admits that Jawaharlal Nehru spread education in the country. On the other hand, he blames him for not making the youths skilled. He does not have the minimum idea that education and skills are interlinked. Who will buy his words that a man who spread education was not serious about skilling the youths of the country ” asked state Youth Congress president Lokanath Maharathy.
No BJP leader of Odisha came forward to defend Mr Singh knowing well that he had stirred a hornet’s nest.
Didi’s singur stand
Only days after Mamata Banerjee started the process of returning the land of Tata Motors’ defunct Nano plant in Singur to the farmers, Cyrus Mistry was forced to step down as chairman of the Tata Group. Ratan Tata who had in the past belligerently attacked Didi, once again took over the reins of the $103 billion conglomerate. The first reaction of many political pundits was that it was kind of a setback for the Bengal chief minister.
With Mr Mistry at the helm, relations between Didi and the Tatas were steadily improving. So much so that Didi even gave a call to the Tatas twice within a few days to set up automobile plant elsewhere in
the state. She even offered the same volume of land (1,000 acres), which her government wrested from Tata Motors in Singur following the Supreme Court order.
While announcing his decision to shift the Nano plant from Singur to Sanand in October 2008, Mr Tata had observed that Didi had pulled the trigger. According to a Mamata confidant, Mr Tata’s return to the top position in the behemoth spoiled her mood a bit when she was savouring the Singur victory.
When Mr Mistry’s ouster led to a war of words between the two tycoons, a washing of some dirty linen in public was inevitable fallout. In his counter-attack, Mr Mistry wrote a long letter in which he painstakingly pointed out the mistakes Mr Tata made which resulted in huge losses to the Tata Group. According to Mr Mistry the Nano losses have touched Rs 1,000 crores. He suggested that the Nano project should have been shut down, but the crucial decision was not taken because of emotional reasons.
A little bird tells us that this came as music to Didi’s ears. “Didi’s Singur stand has been vindicated once again,” claimed the Mamata aide.