Sunday, January 3, 2021

Fly on the Wall - Why Blame Rahul Gandhi

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Why Blame Rahul!
Why Blame Rahul Gandhi for his usual year-end sojourn in Italy abandoning the Foundation Day function of his party. There is no denial that he pushes off on vacation many times during the year and that has been his routine ever since he stepped into politics since 2004. But why blame him! He doesn't even hold any office in the party. Isn't it? Even Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav left for London with his family. As if this is not enough, another farmer leader and Haryana’s Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala is holidaying in the Rann of Kutch. Want to know where Bihar’s Tejashwi Yadav goes for holidaying? Delhi is his destination and he doesn’t meet anybody here. He is not even seen with the agitating farmers or sending a contingent from Bihar either. Young ministers belonging to the BJP may be sulking as Modi is keeping a close watch on them and a couple of them have paid the price too in the past. But other parties have no such problem.

A Saffron Flag in Srinagar, finally
BJP may have won three Councilors out of the 140 seats in the District Development Council (DDC) polls in the Valley and 72 of the 140 in the Jammu region. Of the three, it won just one in the Srinagar rural DDC. But it is trying hard to capture it by engineering a majority. A couple of Councilors belonging to the National Conference and PDP have already switched sides to the Apni Party of Altaf Bukhari, a local businessman & ex-minister in the PDP-BJP government who floated his own party after the abrogation of Article 370. The BJP is also wooing 4 Independents as the PDP, NC & Apni Party won three seats each. Nobody has a majority. The BJP’s top leadership is working overtime to capture the Srinagar DDC as it will be a great day in the history to have BJP-Apni Party DDC in the heart of the Valley.
The BJP has perfected the art of converting a minority into the majority in many states and this process will now continue in the Valley too. Interestingly, the BJP recently captured the Srinagar Municipal Corporation indirectly by engineering defection of Junaid Azim Mattoo to the Apni Party. Junaid Azim Mattoo was part of Sajad Lone-led People's Conference (PC). Later, he quit the PC in 2013 to join the National Conference and after winning the polls, switched to the Apni Party. Altaf Bukhari and Junaid Mattoo have declared their Endeavour to make Srinagar a world class city. If this alliance works, the saffron flag may fly in Srinagar rural while Srinagar city is already under control of a friendly party of the BJP.

Will Modi Blink ?
In his first term Modi tried to tinker with the Land Acquisition law. But the first Minister for Rural Development, Gopinath Munde, didn’t agree. Even his successor Nitin Gadkari couldn’t deliver what Modi desired. Finally, Modi brought in Chaudhary Birender Singh who too failed. The PM was persuaded to bring back the UPA government’s Land Acquisition law and Modi had to swallow the bitter pill. Now six year into the job, Modi is facing another Waterloo and it is not the creation of the Opposition nor gifted in his lap by Rahul Gandhi. Riding on the massive mandate of 2019, he pushed these Agri reforms. He may still succeed. But the situation looks grim and he doesn’t have too much time in his hand either. Modi's other problem is that he doesn't trust anybody and doesn't share what’s cooking in his mind. Insiders in the government say that he has been advised by certain well meaning people to allow the states to do whatever they want to do with these three Acts. Even the Supreme Court had suggested deferment of these Acts and start negotiations. A negotiated settlement before the Republic Day and Parliament session is a better option in any case. Modi had certainly not bargained for this.

No News is good news
For All India Radio, the agitation of farmers on Delhi borders is no news. Listen to the prime time news bulletins of AIR in the evening slot at 8.30 pm. It seems the agitation doesn’t exist. The entire bulletin is full of government handouts and news sent from states. Why so? The AIR has stopped taking the news service of PTI, UNI, ANI and other agencies. Whatever news is sent by its correspondents from across the world is broadcast.