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Bid to ‘shield’ Modi over CAA; rank and file for new Cong prez

The writer is a Delhi-based journalist.
Published : Feb 24, 2020, 3:13 am IST
Updated : Feb 24, 2020, 3:13 am IST

Punjab Congress leaders are secretly celebrating the party’s dismal performance and the Aam Aadmi Party’s victory in the Delhi polls.

Rahul Gandhi (PTI file photo)
 Rahul Gandhi (PTI file photo)

Efforts are currently on in the Bharatiya Janata Party to insulate Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the party’s humiliating defeat in the recent Delhi Assembly polls. Party insiders talk in hushed tones about serious differences between Mr Modi and his confidant Union home minister, Amit Shah. It is being said that Mr Modi was not in favour of rushing ahead with the enactment of the amended citizenship law at this juncture and wanted to take it up at a later date. But Mr Shah apparently brought this matter to the notice of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh that is said to have pressed Mr Modi to defer to his home minister’s wishes, leaving him no choice but to back Mr Shah. This, BJP leaders said, explains why Mr Modi was not present in the Lok Sabha during the debate on the amended citizenship law. In fact, he did not even vote for the bill though the party had issued a three-line whip to all its MPs. However, sceptics are not convinced with this explanation, as the Modi-Shah duo is known as the original jodi no. one.

There is no end to the rumblings in the Congress as an increasing number of frustrated party leaders are publicly demanding that the leadership crisis be resolved at the earliest. The subtext of these statements is that Rahul Gandhi should make it clear that he is not ready to helm the Congress and an election is called giving another leader, preferably a non-Gandhi, an opportunity to bid for this job. There is talk that all those (and it is a sizeable number) wanting greater clarity on the leadership front, are planning to write a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi in this regard. But, the question is who will bell the cat, as Sandeep Dikshit said recently. Another leader put it aptly: The Congress, he said, is like the Mughal harem where the concubines are constantly sniping but hardly ever revolt.

Former cricketer Kirti Azad who crossed over from the Bharatiya Janata Party to the Congress on the eve of last year’s Lok Sabha election apparently is keen on going back to his old party. Mr Azad is feeling restless after his wife Poonam Azad, a Congress candidate from the Sangam Vihar seat, suffered a humiliating defeat in the recent Delhi Assembly election. He was also hoping to be named Delhi Congress president but had to make do as the party’s campaign committee chief. According to capital’s political grapevine, Mr Azad is sending out feelers to his old BJP colleagues with the explanation that he had differences with the late Arun Jaitley but had never criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Azad is keen on rejoining the BJP before this year’s Bihar Assembly election but his ghar wapsi could prove difficult as his detractors are waiting to point out that the cricketer-turned-politician had lost no time in slamming Mr Modi when he joined the Congress.

They may be battling each other publicly but former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat was quick to come to the rescue of his successor Trivendra Singh Rawat when he recently faced a fresh rebellion from his party colleagues. State minister Satpal Maharaj and Union minister for human resource development Ramesh Pokhriyal are both eyeing the chief minister’s gaddi and have been lobbying hard for a leadership change. In the midst of this churning, Harish Rawat issued a statement accusing the BJP’s central leadership of creating political instability in Uttarakhand. The Congress leader pointed out that the BJP had changed as many as nine chief ministers when it was in power and also gone out of its way to ousting him when he was occupying the top post. He also underlined that no BJP legislator was in touch with him. Last heard, Trivendra Rawat was heaving a sigh of relief as his political opponent’s timely statement helped him survive the latest threat to his kursi.

Punjab Congress leaders are secretly celebrating the party’s dismal performance and the Aam Aadmi Party’s victory in the Delhi polls. Disgruntled Congress leaders in the state, who have been on the look-out for other options, are now pinning their hopes on the AAP which has a  base in the state and has the potential togrow, especially after its spectacular victory in Delhi. So far their choices were limited. The Bharatiya Janata Party doesn’t count for much in Punjab and the Shiromani Akali Dal is facing a serious internal crisis.

It is no coincidence then that within days of the Delhi election result, several Congress leaders, including ministers, raised a banner of revolt against Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh. At the same time, there is talk that Congress rebel leader Navjot Singh Sidhu may be joining the AAP. Marginalised by the chief minister, a sulking Mr Sidhu has been looking for a way out for several months now.

Tags: narendra modi, delhi assembly polls