The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Baba log play the waiting game
(From top) Jyotiraditya Scindia,Sachin Pilot,Milind Deora,Sandeep Dikshit

New Delhi, Dec. 16: They must wait their turn till Rahul Gandhi decides on his Big Leap Forward into the heart of Indian politics. But the Congress’s “baba log brigade” doesn’t mind at all.

They are deep into their experiments with “truth” in Parliament, ready to question the government on social issues. Efforts that Sonia Gandhi, if not their own constituents, will surely appreciate.

Till now, the young guns had done little apart from winning elections. Jyotiraditya Scindia is a special invitee to the Congress Working Committee, but none of the rest — Sachin Pilot, Milind Deora, Sandeep Dikshit and Jitin Prasada included — holds party positions.

Ajay Maken and D. Purandareswari have made it to the council of ministers, but only as ministers of state. And in Parliament, none except Scindia has made any impact. Until the winter session, that is.

Sources said Sonia had decided the “babas” must be at the House regularly and speak out on social issues. Tejashwini Seeramesh, who defeated H.D. Deve Gowda in Kanakpura, spoke on the OBC quota bill and the Child Rights Act.

She said: “Madam (Sonia) is keen for us to participate (in Parliament) but I noticed that none of the young members took an initiative. I looked for every opportunity to speak and almost every time I sought permission from the chief whip, I got it.”

The 40-year-old former TV journalist claimed that each time she spoke, Sonia would react when she met her. “She appreciated certain points. Even if she is not in the House, she monitors what is said.”

Tejashwini admitted to getting “cold feet” when she attacked the Centre’s agricultural policy at a previous session. “But what to do' My constituency has mostly farmers who don’t understand GDP and sensex. I have to be truthful to them.”

Haryana MP Kuldeep Bishnoi, son of former chief minister Bhajan Lal, explained why “truth” was expedient: “We have a long way to go. Nobody will trust us if we betray them with slogans and rhetoric.”

It was this perception, combined with the need to emulate Sonia’s and Rahul’s social “commitment” and play a bit of factional politics as well, that prompted Kuldeep to oppose the SEZ policy in Congress-ruled Haryana.

“Sonia and the Prime Minister understand my stand. That’s why I sympathise with Mamata Banerjee,” he said.

Another son of a chief minister — a ruling one — may not have protested some of his mother’s controversial policies, but Sandeep Dikshit realised early on that just being Sheila Dikshit’s son would not get him too far.

Sandeep, elected from east Delhi -- a constituency made largely of heartland migrants -- said three large slums were razed in the past year and a half on court orders. “All the dispossessed are eligible to get new plots, but the MCD’s working is so complicated that not one parchee (document) has been distributed.”

Some “baba logs”, like Madhu Goud Yaskhi and Jitin Prasada, are playing it safe.

“In a meeting, he (Rahul) asked me what I was doing for my constituency (in Andhra Pradesh). I said my focus is on health and education because in a speech in Parliament, he had stressed equal opportunities for children,” Madhu said.

Jitin, son of the late Jitendra Prasada, said his only aim now was to help the party win as many Assembly seats as he could in his constituency, Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

“Those like me and Milind (Deora) are out to prove we matter equally outside Parliament. Milind is working hard on the Mumbai municipal elections. For me, UP is the immediate challenge,” Jitin said.

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