by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group
Pawar’s huge huge dilemma
Sharad Pawar is facing a huge dilemma in his political career for sometime now. Though he is virtually running the Maharashtra government with a remote-control button, he remains a dissatisfied person. He is desperate to play a major role in the national political scene. This will be possible only when Congress is agreeable to his being leading the Opposition pack or the other like-minded Opposition parties (minus the Congress) accept him as the Leader. In addition, Pawar also wants his political legacy to be transferred to his daughter Lok Sabha MP Supriya Sule in Maharashtra. This may, however, bring him in conflict with his nephew Ajit Pawar who has been working on the ground in the state for decades. The NCP cadre in Maharashtra sees Ajit Pawar as the natural choice in the state while Supriya Sule may play a role at the national level. Secondly, Sonia Gandhi is not in a mood of quitting the post despite a considerably weakened Congress & the UPA. Rahul Gandhi is not in a mood to step aside either. Will he achieve these objectives if he joins hands with BJP ? No one is sure.
Bengal is BJP’s Turning point!
West Bengal election results on May 2 will be a turning point for the BJP in more ways than one. A BJP win will not only open the flood gates for the party's pan-India reach but consolidate Modi-Shah grip on the entire political spectrum in the years to come. It is not that the Assembly polls in Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu & Puducherry are not important in BJP’s scheme of things. But BJP’s full focus is on snatching West Bengal from the TMC while retaining Assam and playing a second fiddle to NR Congress in Puducherry. In Kerala, the BJP’s priority is to defeat the Congress and won’t mind CPM retaining its bastion. The BJP has opened its gates for the Congressmen in Kerala in a big way. Knowledgeable sources in the corridors of power here say a tacit understanding may have taken place with the Left. The Left lent a helping hand to BJP in West Bengal in lieu of it. The latest slogan in West Bengal left is, “Aage Ram, Pore Baam (Ram first, Left later).” It means to dislodge Mamata first and let the BJP win this time around. The BJP had played a similar game in Punjab in 2017 when it ensured Capt Amrinder Singh’s win to defeat the AAP. Therefore, it is all the more baffling as to why Rahul Gandhi fell into the trap of the Left parties in West Bengal and had spurned Mamata’s offer for a tie-up.
Mamata on a weak wicket
TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee may be a born fighter but many battles in the past. But in the 2021 polls, she entered the battleground on a weak wicket. There are many factors including 10-years’ of anti-incumbency, desertions by many powerful leaders her ship, Abhishek Banerjee factor (the rise of Mamata’s nephew in the party) and success of BJP in polarizing the state voters by consolidating the Hindus on the one hand. Whether the Muslim voters have been divided or not will be known on May 2. But one should not forget the Owaisi factor that cost the RJD-Congress dearly in Bihar. Last but not the least, the PM’s visit to the historic temple of the Mathuas in Bangladesh has given BJP a big edge. Mathuas play a decisive role over 40-45 seats. And one should not forget the role played by the central agencies like the CBI, ED, NIA, NCB in every election. Is the tide turning? Wait until May 2.
BJP aims big after Bengal
A BJP win in West Bengal may give the party a clear majority in the Rajya Sabha by 2022 thereby giving PM Modi an opportunity to implement his ambitious “One Nation One Poll” plans. The BJP has 95 MPs in Rajya Sabha and a workable majority in the House of 245. Many regional parties like the BJD, YSR Congress, TDP and DMK have virtually no role to play in the given situation. The Assembly polls in 5 states are equally important for the entire Opposition and the Congress in particular. A TMC win may lead to the emergence of the United Front against the BJP. The role of the Congress Party will depend on its performance in Kerala, Assam and Puducherry. It is precisely because of this very reason that many prominent leaders like Nitish Kumar, Sharad Pawar and others are patiently waiting in the wings.