Lalu’s attempts to salvage his ‘Rally of the Corrupt’
Lalu Prasad and his family are trying their utmost to make the rally of August 27 a grand success. Former deputy Chief Minister and now leader of the opposition in the Bihar Assembly, Tejashwi Yadav is out on a tour of the State. He chose Champaran to start his yatra, much like Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as this is the centenary year of the Champaran Satyagrah. In this yatra, Lalu’s time-tested friends and veteran RJD leaders like Ramchandra Purve and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh are accompanying Tejashwi, in an attempt to establish an acceptable face for the RJD. Lalu is so caught up in the legal proceedings of the CBI that he cannot concentrate on rallies; so he has assigned Tejashwi his first big political task.
The question is, will the opposition participate in Lalu’s rally whose call was ‘BJP Hatao, Desh Bachao’. When Nitish was part of the Mahagathbandhan, it was certain that the entire opposition would come together, but now that he is part of the NDA, there is uncertainty over opposition stalwarts. The Congress is expected to join the rally but it has kept AAP away from all activities of the opposition. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is expected to participate in the rally. Apart from her, the CPM and CPI have also been invited but there are doubts over their participation as also that of Mayawati and Akhilesh.
The BJP has termed Lalu’s rally ‘Benami Sampatti Bachao Rally,’ with a clear message that Lalu has invited only corrupt leaders to the gathering, a move which may prevent many from participating in the rally.
PROBLEMS OF REGIONAL PARTIES
Many regional parties are in trouble in the face of a heightened BJP offensive, their leaders restless and worried. The regional stalwarts of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the two laboratories of Mandal politics for the past three decades, are a worried lot. Elsewhere, in Odisha, leaders of the BJD, a party which emerged out of the Samajwadi movement, are also apprehensive. The Congress is already beleaguered with the danger of rebellion across States.
The BJP has a two-pronged strategy: One, to take some leaders of the opposition directly into the party, and two, to weaken the opposition through an alternative front. Assembly elections in Odisha will be held along with the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. The BJP has become super active in the State causing a lot of worry for the ruling BJD. It is believed that at least half a dozen MPs of the BJD are in contact with the BJP, including the party’s high profile leader BJ Panda. Sources say many of the BJD’s MPs and MLAs might change their party and join the BJP before the 2019 election.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party and the BSP find themselves in a similar situation. At least two Rajya Sabha MPs of the SP may be joining the BJP and at least a dozen MLAs are also vulnerable. Seven or eight BSP MLAs are also in contact with the BJP. In Bihar, the Congress is in a crisis. At least a dozen MLAs of the Congress in Bihar are waiting to join the BJP. The NCP’s Sharad Pawar too is a worried man so he is keeping his cards close to his chest for the moment while keeping communication lines with the BJP open.
PRANAB MUKHERJEE’S PLANS
While residing in Rashtrapati Bhavan ex-President Pranab Mukherjee was in close touch with Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, meeting them often and giving them advise on a host of political issues. This prompted speculation that after his retirement he would be helping out the Congress party in some capacity. But this seems unlikely. His son Abhijit Mukherjee and daughter Sharmishtha are already in the Congress. Sharmishtha has shifted with her father to 10, Rajaji Marg, but will continue to work with the Delhi Congress. Abhijit Mukherjee is an MP from his father’s seat, Jangipur, and will continue his politics from there.
On his part, Pranab Mukherjee is expected to stay away from politics. In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is believed to have struck up such an emotional relationship with the former President that the latter would hesitate to openly side with the Congress. Modi has said several times that Pranab Da is like a father figure for him. This is the reason why it is felt that Pranab Mukherjee will be working as an undeclared advisor to the Central Government.
WILL AMAR SINGH JOIN THE BJP?
Amar Singh, who has been thrown out of the Samajwadi Party, might be joining the BJP. Sources in the BJP say Amar Singh has been in close contact with the party leadership for the past few months, particularly with the Prime Minister and party president Amit Shah. It is being said that the BJP might take him in given his political importance in UP. In fact, it is believed that Amar Singh helped the BJP in going back into the Samajwadi Party fold where Shivpal Yadav and Amar Singh were said to be two sides of the same coin. In drawing Amar Singh close, the BJP could attract Shivpal Yadav as well. Although it is true that Shivpal Yadav has not given indication of joining the BJP, instead indicating that he will launch a separate front.
There are several other leaders in the SP whose tenure would be ending next year and they are all said to be eyeing the BJP. However, the BJP is not interested in any other leader except Shivpal Yadav and Amar Singh. If any decision is taken on Amar Singh, he might resign from the Rajya Sabha and will fight again on a BJP ticket. If Shivpal is ready to leave his party then the BJP might send him to the Rajya Sabha. If he leaves with some of his MLAs, the BJP may win nine seats out of the total 10 in the next biennial election.
JAIRAM RAMESH AND CONGRESS
Many leaders of the Congress are unhappy with Jairam Ramesh due to two reasons. One, he has made offensive remarks on the Congress high command, comparable to those used by Narendra Modi during the 2014 elections. And the other reason is his suggestions on changes in the party. A senior Congress leader said if the party is in a bad shape then Ramesh too is responsible as he was part of the UPA regime for 10 years. He used to advice then PM Manmohan Singh as also Rahul Gandhi. As long as the Congress was in power he offered no advice but when it is out of power he is giving advice on changes in the party. Some believe that while the Congress is out of power now, Ramesh has ensured himself a seat in the Rajya Sabha till 2022. Therefore, his critics say even if his party does not perform, he will face no problems.
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