Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 | Last Update : 01:04 AM IST

Of political rivalry, within and outside party

The writer is a Delhi-based journalist.
Published : Jun 17, 2018, 12:12 am IST
Updated : Jun 17, 2018, 12:11 am IST

The Rahul Gandhi-hosted iftar, on the other hand, bore his imprint and reflected the generational change in the Congress.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee at Congress President Rahul Gandhi's Iftar party in New Delhi. (Photo: Twitter | @INCIndia)
 Former President Pranab Mukherjee at Congress President Rahul Gandhi's Iftar party in New Delhi. (Photo: Twitter | @INCIndia)

When Rahul Gandhi hosted his first iftar last week after taking as Congress president, it was inevitable that comparisons would be drawn with the iftars hosted by his mother and former party chief Sonia Gandhi.

The last iftar hosted by her in 2015 was attended by a host of Opposition leaders, including Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, the then Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah and DMK leader Kanimozhi. The event was specifically meant to showcase the growing proximity among the Opposition leaders. Besides political leaders, the guest list at these iftar dinners also included leading figures from the Muslim community as well as diplomats and academics. These iftars were an organised and genteel affair, an extension of the host’s personality.

The Rahul Gandhi-hosted iftar, on the other hand, bore his imprint and reflected the generational change in the Congress. Top Opposition leaders skipped the event but the evening did see a large turn-out of young guests whose energy and enthusiasm was inescapable. This event was more egalitarian as it had a substantial presence of guests who would fall into the category of aam admi.

The change can be attributed to the fact that the Congress has a younger president now and the head of the party’s minority department, Nadeem Javed, picked by Mr Gandhi, also belongs to the new generation of leaders.

Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah recently ordered a revamp of the party’s communications department in Bhopal after it was noticed that the Congress party’s activities in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh had started getting greater coverage in the last few weeks.

Rajya Sabha MP and BJP national vice-president Prabhat Jha has now been entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that the party and the state government’s activities get prominent space in the local media with an eye on the year-end Assembly elections. The change became necessary as the state government is fighting hard to ward off growing anti-incumbency. But the chief minister will not be happy with the new appointment. Not known to be on friendly terms with Mr Jha, Mr Chouhan had successfully ensured his marginalisation in Madhya Pradesh over the past few years.

Now that he has staged a comeback in state politics, Mr Jha has made it clear that he will be no push-over. Mr Jha is using this opportunity to build his personal profile and word has got round that he will have a major say in the distribution of tickets.

The fact that he has done a stint as president of the BJP’s state unit is proving to be a big advantage as ticket aspirants are willing to believe that Mr Jha will be a key player in the coming elections.

The knives are out in the Congress for former Cabinet minister Jairam Ramesh ever since the media reported that party president Rahul Gandhi is going to appoint him as poll coordinator for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. It is no coincidence that a letter written by Mr Ramesh in 2014 to the then Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan seeking his help regarding the interrogation of Prime Minister Rural Development Fellow Mahesh Raut is once again being highlighted by the media. Mr Raut was recently arrested by the Pune police in connection with the violence witnessed during an annual event organised to commemorate the Battle of Bhima Koregoan in Maharashtra. According to the buzz in the Congress circles, the letter was probably leaked to the media by a party insider with the obvious purpose of sabotaging his appointment as poll coordinator.

At the same time, it is being whispered that Mr Ramesh may not be the best choice for this all-important job as it would deter the corporate sector from extending financial help to the Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Mr Ramesh had made himself unpopular with industrialists when he was heading the environment ministry as he had held up their projects citing environmental concerns.

The rivalry between Union minister Vijay Goel and president of the BJP’s Delhi unit Manoj Tiwari is an open secret. The two leaders are constantly trying to put each other down as Mr Goel is keen to get back to Delhi politics and Mr Tiwari is resisting his efforts.

For instance, Mr Tiwari was the first to call on Mr Rajyavardhan Rathore when he was given charge of the sports ministry, earlier headed by Mr Goel. But Mr Goel appears to have scored over his rival in the latest round of one-upmanship.

After BJP president Amit Shah instructed all party members to meet eminent personalities as part of the party’s “Samparak for Samarthan” campaign to provide them details of the Modi government’s achievements, the minister has got off to a flying start.

He has taken care to pick personalities like Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid and former Aam Admi Party  leader and MLA Kapil Mishra which ensures him instant media coverage. On the other hand, little is known about Mr Tiwari’s programme.

Tags: rahul gandhi, sonia gandhi, amit shah