Palpable anger: Generation war in the Congress?
The impression being created about the Congress, that Sachin Pilot’s revolt is a manifestation of the ceaseless generation war in the Grand Old Party, is bogus and younger leaders are more upset about this episode than the entrenched forces. Although some young leaders like Jitin Prasada, Priya Dutt and Kuldeep Bishnoi felt that Pilot was not treated well, a majority of them are anguished and fiercely condemn his betrayal. While the older leaders have played their innings, experiencing the highs and the lows to the fullest, the younger ones believe that anyone who harms the party at its weakest moment is a traitor. A number of them are seething with rage over the deeds of Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia, but some senior leaders do refer to political mismanagement at the top while analysing the crisis.
Close aides of Rahul Gandhi, however, rubbish the perception that Pilot was pushed out by the veterans, pointing out that the crisis was being handled by younger leaders like Randeep Surjewala, Ajay Maken and KC Venugopal, who are part of the same circle of friends that Pilot and Scindia belong to. Most leaders contest the opinion that the Rajasthan chief minister, Ashok Gehlot, was aggravating the crisis to block Pilot’s return, saying he has shown exceptional patience over the last two years. One young party functionary said, “Even if there is an internal poll using secret ballot asking whether Scindia and Pilot were right or wrong, 99 per cent of Congressmen will say they were wrong”. Their feeling is that those whose commitment to the party and its ideology are in doubt should go at the earliest, as the party’s most vulnerable moments are also the best opportunities for reconstruction.
The Aam Aadmi Party’s rising star and member of the legislative assembly, Raghav Chadha, was snubbed by a former media advisor of the party leader and the Delhi chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal. Chadha wears several hats, including that of the chairman of the Delhi assembly’s peace and harmony committee — a panel that investigates complaints of hate speech online and attempts to take violators to task. On Wednesday, the committee took up complaints against the Tripura CM, Biplab Deb, of the Bharatiya Janata Party — the only Opposition party in the assembly — who, last Sunday, implied that Jats and Sikhs are ‘less intelligent’ than Bengalis.
Although Deb had apologized on Tuesday, the AAP’s top Jat and Sikh leaders made statements to condemn him. However, the former Kejriwal aide, Nagendar Sharma — now the conscience keeper of the party’s Twitter ecosystem — dismissed the assembly investigating the matter which took place in some other state. He tweeted, “It has no jurisdiction... Waste of time... Concentrate on Delhi issues [sic]”. The party’s media managers ignored Sharma’s remark, which was reflective of a growing resentment towards the AAP over the meteoric rise of Chadha at the cost of more experienced MLAs like Saurabh Bharadwaj.
Amid the ongoing border stand-off, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police is training its men in martial arts to counter the Chinese squad of mixed martial arts fighters who are said to have been recently inducted into the People’s Liberation Army deployed along the line of actual control. Sources in the ITBP said that the training includes unarmed combat and martial arts at the paramilitary force’s main training centre in Mussoorie. The move to train ITBP men is also prompted by the hand-to-hand deadly clash on June 15 between the two armies in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed.
The BJP claims to be the world’s largest political party; now it is also trying to prove that it is the most active one. The pandemic has stalled the normal activities of most political outfits, but the BJP went into full-action mode after the initial cooling-off period on account of the nationwide lockdown. Trying to show that it was much ahead of others, the party started holding not only digital meetings but also virtual rallies. The heightened activity has backfired at least in two states — Bihar and Uttarakhand. In poll-bound Bihar, the BJP headquarters in Patna turned into a Covid-19 hotspot. Officially, more than 20 party leaders, including the state party chief, Sanjay Jaiswal, were found to be infected. The unofficial figure is 75. One legislator has already succumbed to the virus. In Uttarakhand, scores of leaders and workers in the Kumaon region have reportedly tested positive. They were said to be conducting party activity without proper safeguards. In March, the BJP and its ‘echo system’ had used the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi to indirectly target a particular community for spreading the virus. Whispers in the political corridors now say that the BJP was just as irresponsible.
Eye on the prize
Anyone in Kerala would know that Ramesh Chennithala has his eyes fixed on the CM’s chair with the state assembly polls less than a year away. The leader of the Opposition has been doing his bit to stay in the news each day since the world media started praising the Left government’s Covid-19 management model. The master strategist would know the Congress culture of last-minute changes in leadership roles. Hence, he ensured his presence in the media by raking up one allegation after another. He would certainly know most of the charges against the government would not pass muster. But who cares?
Even a year after his coalition government in Karnataka collapsed — the BJP poached 17 lawmakers from the ruling alliance — HD Kumaraswamy still will not agree that all Congress leaders were innocent in that upheaval. Kumaraswamy, who became a surprise CM when the Congress roped in the Janata Dal (Secular) to keep the BJP at bay, had even shed tears publicly about pressure from the Congress. But the fact remains he did not want to throw away the gift of the top office.