Court worries, 'rift' amuses Cong
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- Published 3.10.11
New Delhi, Oct. 2: The Congress leadership is not too worried about the controversy over the “rift” between Pranab Mukherjee and P. Chidambaram. It believes that real damage and loss of face will happen if the Supreme Court decides to investigate the home minister’s role in the 2G scam.
The party knows that any spat between ministers will be forgotten long before the next election, but the spectrum scandal is another matter. The Congress hopes to limit the 2G taint by blaming it on the DMK, but that escape route will be shut if Chidambaram is sucked into the case.
Most Congress leaders, therefore, are amused that the BJP is focusing on the “internal rift” in the government.
“Let them harp on this tiff for ever and we won’t complain. We know that the public images of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are our weapons in the elections. The focus on sideshows like the Chidambaram-Mukherjee spat only distracts people’s attention from our real weaknesses,” a senior leader told The Telegraph.
The Congress would like this discourse to continue as the problem of intra-party squabbles and ego clashes is far worse in the BJP and can have implications for the main Opposition’s election strategy.
Congress leaders claim that while rifts within their party have little import other than fleeting entertainment value, power struggles are a central feature of the BJP’s politics and future strategies. They say the Nehru-Gandhis have been a boon for the Congress not only because of their charisma but because the family is a “supreme court” of sorts for the party.
“Our party has a very defined centre of gravity in the leadership of Sonia Gandhi. In the BJP, if at all there is any centre, it is an outsourced arrangement placed in Nagpur (the RSS headquarters),” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said.
“There is a fundamental difference: we are a political party and they are an extension of the Sangh parivar. Their president is a puppet drawing sustenance from somewhere else. There is no centre of gravity in the BJP and so (there are) pulls and pressures from every corner.”
Many leaders at the BJP’s recent national executive meeting had referred to dissensions within the Congress. In reply, Congress functionaries point to the various layers of conflict in their rival camp.
“It is unending and almost comical. We have seen how Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley fought. We know Narendra Modi and Sushma Swaraj don’t see eye to eye. The less said about the Sushma-Jaitley tuning the better. Now there is the Advani-Modi tiff. Advani-versus-RSS was an old story and it has become Advani versus the rest,” Tewari said.
He rubbed it in: “The internal conflicts in the BJP are the result of ambition outstripping reality. The general election is 32 months away but the brazen display of ambition by senior BJP leaders betrays a commitment to themselves rather than the party.”
Another Congress spokesperson, Renuka Chowdhary, scoffed at the prime ministerial race in the BJP: “There is no tax on dreaming; they are all free to become the Prime Minister even as there is no vacancy.”
Congress leaders are citing how the BJP leadership, whom they accuse of disrupting Parliament for days together under dictation from Gujarat, has failed to respond to their charge that Modi’s rise is a bad omen for the country.
Asked if the Congress was happy with Modi positioning himself as a future Prime Minister, Congress media department chairperson Janardan Dwivedi had recently said: “Not at all. We have always opposed politicians like Modi who cannot respect India’s pluralistic social fabric and its all-inclusive form. The rising stature of a politician like Modi is not a good omen for the country.”
Dwivedi had also pointed to the power struggles in the Sangh parivar and predicted many more surprising developments in the run-up to the 2014 polls.
“The RSS is struggling for supremacy as an organisation, the others as individuals. Be it Advani’s new rathyatra or the BJP president’s regular antics, everything is part of this struggle for supremacy. We should not be surprised that Modi is trying to thrust his supremacy on everybody through this well-orchestrated drama,” he said.