BJP lost in 2004 for complacency; Congress will lose 2009 for arrogance

BJP lost in 2004 for complacency; Congress will lose 2009 for arrogance

Times have changed, but heady Congress is still floating in the clouds. They way it is manhandling its coalition allies, it is quite apparent, it is not able to digest the change that is destructing the whole idea of a bipolar political future around the two ‘Brahminical’ outfits. The more aggressively and cavalier fashion it plays games with its coalition partners, the more it strengthens the resolve of the regionals, to weaken Congress at all costs. One by one, it has misbehaved with its strong supporters, be they the Muslims, Dalits or OBCs. Day in and day out, it is concerned itself in amassing wealth for its own cronies as the main business of governance is how to loot the treasury without general public getting any wiser. Congress alone is culprit that has completely criminalised the business of governance. Though no credible alternative can be hoped to clean the stables, but in the manner of bureaucratic solution of short period appointments and change of tenure, the corruption may be controlled to some extant and a better deal for the have-nots may become more enticing for the political operators. 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

Cong at risk of losing poll edge, aims to cut Lalu, Paswan to size

21 Mar 2009, 0113 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Congress is at the risk of losing its edge over BJP in alliance-making. Angered by what it has called betrayal by its Bihar allies, 



Congress has decided to punish Lalu Prasad and Ramvilas Paswan by fielding such candidates who could cut into the votes of the two Bihar satraps. 

The aggressive intent, which found reflection on Thursday in embrace of the controversial Sadhu Yadav, the favourite brother-in-law of Lalu who turned persona non grata after his rebellion, is proposed to be carried forward by handpicking candidates who could hurt RJD. A similar plan could be in the works for Paswan as well, with Congress strategists engaged in talks with Pappu Yadav, another politician with a taint. 

So far, Lalu and Paswan have not reacted to the provocation. Lalu, in fact, spoke of his continuing rock-solid support for Sonia Gandhi, keeping hopes alive for some sort of working relationship if not rapprochement. But resentment in their camps is rising and continued hostilities may severely undermine their equations with Congress, rendering them vulnerable to lobbying by other claimants for who leads the next non-BJP coalition at the Centre. 

Already, the duo are in touch with Mulayam Singh Yadav, who will be a key piece in the post-poll power puzzle, and who has barely been able to mask his bitterness with Congress. Sources said that the two Yadav satraps have drawn plans to campaign for each other. 

And, the squabble within the UPA will be music for NCP boss Sharad Pawar, who has made no secret of his prime ministerial aspirations, as well as the Left which is determined to thwart Congress’s claim to be the lead player of the next “secular” coalition as well. 

The gathering war clouds on the Bihar front coincided with indications that the party has not been able to get its southern allies DMK and PMK thrash out their differences, with the latter re-opening lines of communication with the rival suitor, Jayalalitha-led AIADMK. 

The decision on the induction of RJD renegede Sadhu was taken despite clear hints from Lalu that this was not going to be seen as a friendly act, and after the Congress leadership, party sources said, turned down Lalu’s offer of three more seats — two from his kitty and one from Paswan’s — as unsatisfactory. A Congress ticket for the brother-in-law is, going by the clan code, a red rag. 

Paswan’s strategic “this is between Congress and RJD” position has not buffered him against Congress ire. The talks with Pappu Yadav, convicted for the murder of former CPM MP Ajit Sarkar, only reflect Congress’s bellicose plans. Pappu, whose wife won the last election on LJP ticket, has enough clout in the Kosi region to cause anxiety to Paswan’s candidates — there are four of them. 

Congress’s vastly diminished constituency is, broadly speaking, confined to upper castes. If the party selects its ticket from among its traditional constituents, it can split the upper caste votes of Nitish Kumar-led NDA. But a deliberate decision to nominate Yadav and Muslim candidates would be seen as aimed against RJD. 

None of the RJD rebels — Sadhu, Girdhari or Pappu — can surpass Lalu’s appeal among his Muslim-Yadav constituency. But Congress playing host to them is sure to annoy Lalu no end. 

Congress did not seem deterred by it. “We will treat JD(U)-BJP and RJD-LJP as equal rivals”, said Bihar Congress chief Anil Sharma. 

At the root of its conflict with “secular” partners — existing and potential — lies the conflict between Congress’s long-term plan to regain the space it lost in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and the immediate objective of maintaining alliances. Unsure of its chances in 2004, Congress decided to put the “Revival Project” on hold, acquiescing in the “third fiddle” status. With its confidence boosted by the surprise victory in the elections that year as also the fact that the party-led coalition completed its tenure, it has upped the ante. 

There are other factors behind the muscle flexing. Congress is convinced that Lalu has lost a large part of his once-formidable clout in Bihar and would like to revise the terms for sharing the spoils. More importantly, a section in the party led by Rahul Gandhi feel confident that Congress can regain its appeal among sections and in geographies that had drifted away from it, and are exploring whether it could strike out on its own. 

While the objective is bold, it is fraught with the risk of putting off allies who will have a big say in deciding who leads the next non-BJP government.


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