Anita Katyal | ED hand behind INDIA collapse? For Mohan Yadav, it is kissa kursi ka

Political maneuvers unfold: Sonia Gandhi's Rajya Sabha move, factional battles in Congress, BJP's strategies, & MP CM's visibility drive.

Indira Gandhi began her parliamentary career in the Rajya Sabha but her daughter-in-law, Sonia Gandhi, is entering the Upper House towards the end of her political career. Before it was finally decided that Sonia Gandhi would file her nomination papers from Rajasthan, there had been some chatter that she could pick Himachal Pradesh instead. But, it was felt it would be politically more prudent for Sonia Gandhi to represent a big state from northern India though Abhishek Singhvi would have been a better fit for Rajasthan as he hails from there. There was also a fear that the Bharatiya Janata Party could create problems for Sonia Gandhi, which is what happened. Mr Singhvi’s nomination from Himachal Pradesh and Ajay Maken’s candidature from Karnataka has angered the state units in both states. Himachal Pradesh Congress leaders are upset as it is the first time a non-Himachali has been nominated to the Upper House. Himachal Pradesh chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu had apparently proposed Anand Sharma’s name but to no avail. The party’s Karnataka unit is furious that an outsider was picked instead of a local leader.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s ruthless use of investigative agencies against Opposition leaders is paying rich dividends. While a host of leaders have been forced to switch sides after being pursued by the agencies, the INDIA bloc is also unravelling after they stepped up their activities. It is no coincidence that, two days after the Enforcement Directorate issued summons to him, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah announced that his party would go solo in the coming Lok Sabha elections. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has not been arrested even though he has not appeared before the ED despite getting his sixth summons from the agency. This laxity could well be connected to Mr Kejriwal’s recent announcement that the Aam Aadmi Party will not ally with the Congress in Punjab and give only one seat to it in Delhi. He has also upped the ante in Goa and Gujarat. The ED cases against Mr Abdullah and Kejriwal could well be buried now.

Of the seven Union ministers who have been denied another term in the Rajya Sabha by the Bharatiya Janata Party, Dharmendra Pradhan will face the toughest challenge in contesting the coming Lok Sabha election from his home state Odisha. Though the BJP wishes to project Mr Pradhan as its chief ministerial face in the eastern state, the party’s Odisha unit has been fighting with its hands tied to the back as its Central leadership has stopped short of going all out against the ruling Biju Janata Dal. The reason: Not only does Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik share cordial relations with the BJP at the Centre, he has also refrained from joining hands with other opposition parties. Mr Patnaik has always bailed out the BJP in Parliament and supported it on key issues. Last week, the BJD endorsed Union minister Ashwini Vaishnaw’s candidature in the Rajya Sabha election. Mr Pradhan will be hoping for the same.

There is no end to the factional battles in Haryana’s Congress unit. With former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his son, Deepender Hooda, riding high, his detractors have banded together to put up a united fight against them. Congress office bearers Selja and Randeep Surjewala along with former Haryana minister Kiran Choudhary, popularly called SRK, who were not known to be too fond of each other, have decided to sink their differences to take on a common political rival. The SRK trio has been holding public meetings and rallies independent of the state unit’s political programmes. However, Mr Hooda appears oblivious to the pressure he’s facing from within the party and from investigative agencies. His annual lunch saw a huge turnout of senior journalists and politicians including former ministers P. Chidambaram, Shashi Tharoor and Karnataka’s deputy chief minister D.K. Shiv Kumar along with Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut and Priyanka Chaturvedi.

While former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is no longer grabbing headlines, people are still adjusting to the fact that their home state is now headed by a new person. As a result, there is a huge push by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s state unit to make the new chief minister Mohan Yadav a household name like his predecessor Mr Chouhan. These days, the Madhya Pradesh countryside is dotted with huge hoardings with Mr Yadav’s photographs, who until last month, was a little-known political figure despite being a third term legislator. A supporter has also come up with a special song dedicated to Mohan Yadav in which he extols his virtues, describing him as a strong and powerful leader who is capable of bettering Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s record in crushing indiscipline. Mr Yadav himself is also going all-out to be more visible. He is seen at almost any event — from pujas and bhandaras to inauguration of gyms, parks or even unveiling of lamp posts. In a bid to assert himself, Mr Yadav’s office has issued instructions to organisers of public events that the chief minister be provided a bigger chair than those of other guests and it should be placed ahead of their chairs.

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