Monday, December 28, 2020

Fly on the Wall - Mumbai model for new Congress Chief!

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Mumbai model for new Congress Chief!
How the new Congress president may be democratically elected in place of Sonia Gandhi if polls do take place for the coveted post? As many as 1400 plus AICC delegates & others have to be elected first and then they will elect a new CWC and eventually a president in February 2021 unless polls are postponed. The AICC managers hit upon a novel method and tested it in Mumbai to elect Mumbai Regional Congress Committee chief. It is now called the Mumbai Model. The General Secretary incharge of Maharashtra HK Patil sent a voice message to 450 designated party functionaries: I am AICC incharge HK Patil speaking. I seek your views on who should be the president of Mumbai Congress. After the beep, send just one name. Your answer will be kept confidential. Thank you”. No one knows who followed the drill and who didn’t. But the mandarins in the technical team of Rahul Gandhi working behind the scenes, took enough care that the process is executed with finesse. It’s a different matter that no one among 450 delegates knew till date who sent which name and how MRCC president was chosen. But one thing is clear that this Mumbai Model will may be executed in AICC polls too. Since Rahul Gandhi’s loyalists are determined to install him as party chief. The AICC media head, Randeep Surjewala has already said that 99.9% want Rahul as CP. He already knows the mind of 99.9% of the 1400 AICC delegates. The last word has yet to be written.

Rahul & his new mobile
When the 5-hour long meeting took place at Sonia Gandhi’s residence at 10 Janpath, Rahul & Priyanka were in tow to receive the invitees. The Gandhis wanted a virtual meeting over Zoom. But none of the dissidents including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Bhupinder Singh Hooda were ready for it. They insisted on a face-to-face meeting which Sonia Gandhi eventually agreed to. But many leaders were dismayed that Rahul Gandhi was glued to his new iPhone 12. A leader who was part of the meeting said Rahul remained busy with his mobile for nearly three hours. In between, he left the meeting twice to interact with Kamal Nath and A K Antony and attend to urgent calls. Sonia Gandhi, on the other hand, remained seated for full 5-hours without a break.

Hooda stuns the conclave
Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is a soft spoken person and rarely talks tough. But he was perhaps the only one among the dissidents to stun the gathering. Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Prithviraj Chavan and many other letter writers were speaking in a rather conciliatory tone. When Hooda’s turn came, he didn’t mince his words. Rather, he sent the chill in the otherwise warm weather in the sprawling lawns. Hooda said he is fighting a lonely battle in Haryana against the BJP which had pumped Rs 100 crores to win the Baroda Assembly seat in a bitter byelection. Yet he was able to defeat the BJP against all odds. Hooda did not stop there and went on to say that had he been made the leader of the party in Haryana three months prior to State Assembly polls last year, the Congress would have got the state. “Unfortunately, I am not accepted as leader in Delhi while people in Haryana adore me,” said Hooda in a pained voice. There was a silence of the grave.

Nadda’s rising clout
With BJP president J P Nadda down with Covid and recovering, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has taken charge of Assembly polls in West Bengal due next year. Shah was out of action in Bihar for some strange reasons. But now he is leading the onslaught on Mamata Banerjee from the front. However, Nadda is working overtime sitting home and played a key role in the selection of seven Union Ministers who were made inchage of seven regions for Assembly polls. It is learnt that the selections were made as per the PM’s desires and many favourite ministers were excluded causing surprises. Obviously, Nadda's graph has been risen after Bihar win and other polls. Only recently, a couple of Chief Ministers of BJP ruled states wanted to call on the PM. But Modi politely conveyed to them to first apprise the party president about the issues.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Fly on the Wall - Modi subtle goal-post shift

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Modi subtle goal-post shift
If you thought PM Modi will hang his boots and hand-over reins of power once he turns 75 years to a successor, you may be in for some surprises. Reason being that Modi has subtly shifted his goal-post from 2022 to 2029. An indication of changing goal-post came at a virtual function last week which largely went unreported wherein he said that a lot of work has been done during the past six and half years. But for India’s growth and development next nine years are very important. Modi had said on several occasions in the past that by 2022 when India celebrates its 75th anniversary of Independence, farmers' income will be doubled and all will have pakka houses, education for all and many more tall promises. In fact, when he came to power in 2014, he had promised that farmers income will be doubled within the next five years. But later, he shifted it to 2022. Now he is talking that the next nine years are crucial for India’s development. Two things clearly emerge from his statement; one that he will be around until 2029 and secondly, he is working hard to win the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Though many of his lieutenants like Amit Shah have said that the BJP will rule India for the next 50 years. But Modi had always refrained from making such tall claims.

Focus on the Bungalow now!
After losing Rajya Sabha seat for his mother Reena Paswan, the LJP chief is working hard to retain ministerial bungalow at Janpath. The 12 Janpath Road Bungalow was allotted to Ram Vilas Paswan when he became a Minister in the V P Singh government and continued since then. His son, Chirag Paswan who is a two term Lok Sabha MP is not entitled to type VIII bungalow. After Paswan’s death, the bungalow has fallen under the "general category". With no Cabinet berth round the corner for Chirag, he may have to vacate the bungalow unless the Cabinet Committee on Accommodation allows him to retain it. One will have to watch out what happens to this “Hanuman” of Prime Minister Modi. His hopes rest on BJP Chief J P Nadda who said recently, “At the Centre, the matter is different. But in Bihar, this is what it is.” Nadda was asked whether Chirag is part of NDA or not. The vague reply given has raised hopes for Chirag.

What went wrong with Ahmed Patel

The sudden demise of Ahmed Patel has left a void in the Congress at a juncture when the party needed him most. It is not as if he didn’t see ups and downs. He suffered a setback when Ambica Soni became the political secretary to Sonia Gandhi replacing him. It’s a different matter that he was back at the center- stage soon. When Rahul took over as party chief, Patel was subtly sidelined again as the scion of the Gandhi family wanted his own team. However, Sonia Gandhi was wise enough and retained him as her chief political adviser until his death. It’s a different matter that Rahul Gandhi also found virtues in him later and he was back in the political game. It, however, remains a mystery as to why he chose to travel all the way to Faridabad’s Metro Hospital in October for treatment when he was first tested positive of Covid. No doubt, he had been regular at Metro whenever he fell ill. Later, he shifted to Apollo hospital and finally brought to Medanta in Gurugram. Three hospitals in two months did not prove lucky to him.

A promoted with demotion
It's strange that Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha got a demotion while he was promoted as new Chief Information Commissioner. He was holding the rank of the Supreme Court judge as Information Commissioner. But the moment he was promoted as CIC, he was demoted to the rank of a Cabinet Secretary. He will lose salary and pension. Interestingly, his four old colleagues will hold SC judge rank while three new colleagues will be in the rank of secretary. A dichotomy created by the amendment to the RTI Act in 2018!