Maulana Saad reportedly went ahead with the conclave to be one up on his rivals
Saad’s dubious hand
The Tablighi Jamaat’s (TJ) reckless and irresponsible conduct in the current coronavirus outbreak has surprised many within the Muslim community. The Tablighis have largely been an apolitical and disciplined lot with a penchant for holding large conclaves where after-life matters are deliberated and discussed. However, of late, TJ has been witnessing an intense power struggle between its chief Maulana Saad Kandhlawi and a powerful lobby consisting of the ‘shoura’ (executive council).
Saad, a great-grandson of TJ founder Maulana Illyas, reportedly wanted to be one-up on his rivals and ignored saner voices to defer the Delhi-Nizamuddin congregation. Instead, his supporters ensured crowd mobilisation from southern states like Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Kerala, with disastrous consequences. Maulana Saad's role in the TJ headquarters sharing a wall with the Nizamuddin police station has been as dubious. The police reportedly were regular beneficiaries of food and other goodies coming from the TJ office which blurred their vision to act swiftly and decisively.
The rise of Rohan Gupta
After successfully convincing the grand old party to begin working through video-conferencing (something that Rahul Gandhi tried and failed at during his tenure as Congress president), Rohan Gupta, the Congress Party’s social media chairperson, is set to be appointed as the head of a new coordination centre with a similar mandate as Prashant Kishor’s in Uttar Pradesh. The social media, data analytics, research, and communication departments will be answerable to Gupta. This rapid rise is because of his stellar work in managing the war rooms of the Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Rajasthan elections. Considered to be close to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Gupta’s rise signals the hegemonic presence of the Gujarat lobby in the Congress. In the recently-held CWC meeting on April 2, Rohan Gupta was the only non-CWC member who took part.
After MP, Rajasthan next?
The coronavirus scare seems to be having little or no impact on the disquiet in the Rajasthan Congress, where chief minister Ashok Gehlot is at loggerheads with his deputy, Sachin Pilot. When prime minister Narendra Modi video-conferenced with CMs, many appeared with their deputies and senior ministers but Pilot was kept out. While Gehlot is trying to take full credit for his handling of the coronavirus crisis in Bhilwara and other places, Pilot is never short of pointing out the shortcomings. The buzz in Jaipur is that a Madhya Pradesh-like political drama is contemplated and a regional party may be floated.
BSP leverage in Gwalior-Chambal
There is a sense of anticipation among Bahujan Samaj Party leaders in Madhya Pradesh where byelections to 23 Assembly seats will be held within a few months. The BSP is not a major force in the state but in the Gwalior-Chambal region, where most of the byelections are slated to be held, it has pockets of influence. BSP leaders think both the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress will go out of their way to accommodate or win the BSP over. It is time for hard bargaining. Is BSP supremo Mayawati keeping tabs?
Political circles are intrigued by Pankaj Shankar, an independent filmmaker who is closely identified with the Congress. Of late, however, Shankar has been attacking and abusing Rahul Gandhi with a vengeance on social media platforms. He released a web series mocking and ridiculing the former AICC chief. His fictional account titled Love You Pappu, however, does not even have a fig-leaf to cover his political slant. The teaser giving a glimpse of the work culture in the Congress shows Mahatma Gandhi visiting Pappu’s office and not getting an appointment.
Perhaps Shankar is headed for greener pastures. But following the induction of Tom Vadakkan, an AICC media department functionary, the BJP does not seem interested in taking in lowly functionaries whose claim to fame has been “famous for being famous”. Two media-savvy brothers from Pune have also been unsuccessful in selling their loyalty though they adopted different methods.