Monday, 30th October 2017

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Kejriwal pulls off the impossible: uniting the Congress party

Even bitter foes of Delhi's former chief minister, Sheila Dikshit, are working hard to ensure her victory

  • Published 5.05.19, 1:23 PM
  • Updated 5.05.19, 1:23 PM
  • 3 mins read
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Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, seems to have healed the fissures within the Congress in Delhi (Telegraph file photo)

Arvind Kejriwal has achieved the impossible. The leader of the Aam Aadmi Party seems to have healed the fissures within the Congress in Delhi. The enemy of an enemy is a friend, goes the old adage. Is that why the Delhi Congress members are united in their decision to not align with the AAP? While the senior leader and former Delhi Congress chief, Ajay Maken, did advocate an alliance with the AAP, the entire state unit came together to oppose the idea. Now factions within it are working cohesively to prove to Rahul Gandhi that they were right. Even known rivals are cooperating. They argue that this is the perfect opportunity to revive the Congress’s fortunes in the capital, especially in light of the assembly elections in Delhi next year. A leader who never saw eye to eye with Arvinder Singh Lovely, the Congress candidate from East Delhi, said: “This is not the time to settle personal scores. We have promised Rahulji that we can destroy the AAP in the Lok Sabha election by ensuring that not a single candidate of theirs wins.” Even bitter opponents of the former chief minister, Sheila Dikshit, are working hard to ensure her victory. Surprisingly, the Congress — which does not have a single member in the Delhi legislative assembly — is dreaming of at least four members of parliament from the national capital. Some say the Congress could well end up getting more than they dreamed of. United they stand, divided they may fall?

Piyush Goyal is unencumbered by little things like facts
Piyush Goyal is unencumbered by little things like facts (Telegraph file photo)

If the shoe fits

Piyush Goyal is a man of many parts. The railway minister is, once again, trying to step into the shoes of the finance minister, Arun Jaitley. But this time it is not the finance ministry’s chair that he is eyeing. He is trying to become an ace perception manager like Jaitley. While Jaitley is busy writing blogs to show that there is no alternative to Modi, Goyal has been going around stressing that Narendra Modi is invincible. He claims that the Bharatiya Janata Party under ‘Modiji’ is set to get a two-thirds majority and a much bigger victory than the one in 2014.

Goyal is not a man to let little things like facts stand in the way of what he wants. Therefore, when it was pointed out to him that no 2014-like Modi-wave was visible this time, Goyal came up with an interesting answer. He said that in 2014 the wave was visible but in 2019 it is not visible because it is in the form of an undercurrent. “An undercurrent is more lethal,” he told reporters. Goyal is known to be one of the blue-eyed boys of the BJP chief, Amit Shah. Many in the party believe that if the Modi government comes back with a comfortable majority then Goyal’s wish of stepping into the shoes of Jaitley — not just the ones of media manager either — could be fulfilled. There were rumours of him being confirmed as the finance minister when he temporarily took charge of the ministry while Jaitley underwent a surgery. That might not have happened but the possibility of a surgical strike in the corridors of power, edging out Jaitley and anointing Goyal as finance minister, has gained ground within party circles.

Modified math

The Opposition’s back rooms are bustling with energy as operations to prevent Narendra Modi from becoming the prime minister in case of a hung Parliament gather steam. Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar and N Chandrababu Naidu are the key players working to sew up an understanding among major Opposition parties. The veteran leaders are in touch with Naveen Patnaik in Odisha, K Chandrashekhar Rao in Telangana and YS Jaganmohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh as these three parties are expected to win a significant number of seats, — as many as 50 all together, some believe.

A leading Opposition member even predicted that “Modi will not be the prime minister even if he reaches 200. Nobody, not even Shiv Sena will support him this time.” But a change in Narendra Modi’s fortune does not necessarily mean the same for the party. Many in the Opposition have not ruled out a BJP government without Modi.

All guns blazing

The BJP’s Karnataka unit is busy preparing a team of spokespeople for counting day on May 23. The media-savvy party recently gave some 50 young leaders from across the state lessons in media management. They were taught how to be presentable, especially during channel debates. Party sources say a few television anchors from local channels were also roped in to give them a few tips on how to stay calm in the face of pressure. But what the grapevine could not confirm was whether the party was prepared for all eventualities or just prepping a victory speech.

Distant vision

The impression about Syed Suja, the man who made tall claims about EVM manipulation while addressing a press meet through video conferencing from America, is that he was making wild assertions that cannot be substantiated. But he is not on Twitter and is claiming to predict the number of seats won by parties in every phase and how EVMs were manipulated. While few would trust him, the question about how he got asylum in America still remains. Should the government and the Election Commission not be concerned about this “outside hand”?