Counter strike: BJP's Congress shaming boomerangs
As you sow, so shall you reap. The Bharatiya Janata Party clearly had not heard of this adage. After the vicious face-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers pierced straight through the heart of the BJP’s 56-inch-broad chest, the party’s social media warriors decided that offence would be the best defence. They started painting their principal opponent, the Congress, as being friendly towards China. Social media managers even dug out pictures that they claimed were of the Gandhi family from Beijing in 2008 to insinuate that they enjoyed Chinese hospitality. However, what goes around, comes around. The saffron brigade’s campaign soon received a fitting reply. People pulled out details of a BJP delegation spending over a week in China on the invitation of Communist Party of China in August last year. If that wasn’t enough, some Twitter user even managed to find a 2016 tweet by the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, outlining the “tremendous similarities” between the BJP and the CPC and advocating more exchanges between the two sides. “Communist Party of China & BJP have done numerous works in social field. This way, there is tremendous similarities between the two parties [sic],” Chouhan had tweeted then. He had been to China to attract investments to his state. One wonders what he thinks is the best defence.
There seems to be no end to the Congress’s trouble. Once again, the Grand Old Party is witnessing intense internal churning — a powerful lobby within the party is frustrated over the leadership crisis, arguing that Rahul Gandhi’s back-seat driving is unacceptable. This group believes Rahul should be upfront about the matter, discuss relevant issues with seniors and settle the question of leadership once and for all. A section of Congressmen are opposed to Rahul’s comeback bid, arguing that one small coterie is advocating his return instead of opting for a consensual approach towards picking a leader and this can create complications within the organization.
The lockdown has delayed the party’s restructuring, but a majority feels that the party must have a regular president before the Bihar elections later this year. Some leaders have begun to whisper in private that Rahul should take a decisive step aside if he is not interested in leading the party, instead of ruling from behind the scenes. They insist that all the decisions are still being taken by him and that Sonia Gandhi’s will is definitely not the last word. If this tussle is not handled carefully by taking different factions and powerful leaders into confidence, the Gandhi family may have to face stiff resistance in the near future. Some feel that Sonia should sit with senior leaders and work on a consensus on future plans instead of letting a few young Rahul loyalists to campaign for his return. Timing is key here since most members are not willing to wait any longer. The level of impatience is rising, with many saying that this is not the right time for Rahul to stage a comeback and that the decision should be postponed till normalcy returns after the pandemic subsides. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.
Chips are down
The first party to shut down its office to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is, ironically, the worst hit by the disease in the capital. Four Aam Aadmi Party members of the legislative assembly, including the health minister, Satyendar Jain, have tested positive for Covid-19. Jain is in hospital with severe breathing difficulty. Besides Jain, the AAP expert on education and Kalkaji MLA, Atishi Marlena, as well as two key party functionaries, Abhinandita Mathur and Akshay Marathe, are under home isolation with mild symptoms. In April, two party members who had distributed food to the needy in Mehrauli, tested positive. After this, a spurt of cases there led to the area around the Qutub Minar being turned into a containment zone.
That is not the end of the party’s problems. The AAP has lashed out against the Centre, after the lieutenant-governor, Anil Baijal, made institutional quarantine mandatory for anyone who tests positive in the capital — the only place to do so. Grappling with a shortage of beds, especially in intensive care units, the AAP government had encouraged those with mild symptoms in larger homes to be treated within their homes so far. Overall, the AAP has been hit hard by the virus.
The party doth protest too much. The Congress had hit the streets protesting against the ‘abnormally high’ power bills in Kerala. The electricity bill of Rs 27,176 of the former chief minister, Oommen Chandy, was a case in point. The state electricity board was quick to do the math — it revealed that Chandy had not paid the bill for Rs 8,195 after the lockdown. This was added to the subsequent months’ energy consumption. The Congress has since forgotten about Chandy’s bill, because it seems to add up.