Thursday, February 3, 2022

Fly on the Wall | A poll for the next President!!

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

A poll for the next President!!
When Union Home Minister Amit Shah said recently that UP Assembly poll results will have an impact on national politics, no eyebrows were raised. The statement was largely ignored as one of the election rhetoric. But those who know Amit Shah closely, say he is not known for mincing word and plays with a straight bat. He may be termed as “Chanakya” by his admirers but his opponents say his only strength is that he has the ears of the Prime Minister. He implements what he is told to do and is a true lieutenant of Narendra Modi for more than two decades. Therefore, when he says something in public domain, his words need to be understood from a political perspective. After all, the Prime Minister finally deputed him to take charge of the poll campaign in UP after a long lull and deliver 300/403 seats to the NDA. These seats are vital for the Presidential polls slated to take place in July this year. The realignment of political forces in the country depends on the outcome of the UP Assembly polls. An adverse outcome will bring all anti-BJP forces together on one platform. These forces may sink their differences to install a consensus candidate like Shah Pawar or someone from down South or East the next President of India. The NDA, at present, has a narrow edge in the electoral college of around 11 lakh votes. The BJP would need allies like BJD, YSR-Congress, TRS or even the DMK. A comfortable UP win for the BJP is a must to ensure stability of the BJP at the Centre. Any adverse outcome may throw up more rumblings within the BJP and many sidelined leaders are just waiting in the wings for that moment only. It is because of this very reason that Modi, BJP and RSS have pumped in their entire might behind the UP polls.

The Return of Amit Shah
Shah is now the most active face of the BJP in these five State polls. The PM has asked Shah to steer the UP polls and Modi was forced to send Shah sensing some danger. There were days sometime last year when Shah was cooling his heels and maintaining a low-profile. Shah was not very visible either and insiders felt that something is amiss. But it was between Modi and Shah and no third person got a clue. That was the time when J P Nadda, newly appointed BJP president, was on top of the world and hogging the limelight. But the situation changed and Shah was seen holding late night meetings at the BJP headquarters with all top leaders in tow. Even when Nadda was unable to make physically present at such meetings and could join only virtually, Shah was seen in command with others playing coy. Shah's regular presence at the BJP headquarters reminded people of the days when Shah was BJP president between 2014-19 and he was at his best. This round of Assembly elections in five states saw the return of old Amit Shah and he is enjoying it.

Self-goal by Gandhi siblings
Rahul Gandhi was extremely happy to find that all the 117 party candidates in Punjab were in tow when he visited the Golden Temple to pay obeisance last week. He was extremely happy when both claimants to the Punjab Chief Minister’s chair, Navjot Singh Sidhu and sitting CM Charanjit Singh Channi expressed faith in his leadership. Both wanted Rahul to declare the party's chief minister’s face and would accept his decision whoever he would nominate. Poor Rahul!! He fell into the trap and announced before the media that he would announce the CM face after consulting party workers. Perhaps, Rahul forgot the pitfalls of announcing a candidate when a sitting CM is already there representing the support of at least 30% of Dalit votes in the state. If he announces an “an unstable minded” Sidhu, Congress will lose Dalits and if Channi is announced, the Jats won’t be happy either. What a dichotomy? But Rahul Gandhi himself is to be blamed for putting himself and the party in this embarrassing situation. Insiders say Rahul Gandhi was carried away by the huge crowd around him and gave in. Now, the ball has been thrown towards Sonia Gandhi so sort out the mess. Earlier, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra made the same fatal mistake of saying “Who else you find other than me” when media persons wanted to know who will Congress’ Chief Ministerial face in UP. The press conference had been planned in advance and she had been properly briefed. Yet she was swayed and later sheepishly clarified that it was unintended. But the damage had been done and the entire UP campaign got punctured.