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Mamata takes the religious route to woo Hindu voters
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seems to be following in the footsteps of Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Till now, she had been eyeing the Muslim vote bank, but now she aims to woo the Hindu voters as well. She is expected to make the rounds of temples, just like Rahul did, and seek the blessings of the divine power. She will openly claim her Hindu identity like Rahul did after the Somnath controversy. Birbhum will be the starting point for this exercise. Mamata’s party is going to organise a big meeting of purohits in the district. Brahmins, purohits, and pundits from various parts of the State, who perform rituals in temples, will also attend the meeting, as will Mamata.
All participants of this conference will be honoured and be gifted a Gita. The State Government might also help in rebuilding some of the temples.
The TMC has evidently changed its political strategy seeing the growing clout of the BJP in the State. Till date, the TMC Government had been interfering in Hindu festivals. Many controversies have arisen, right from idol immersion to the celebration of Dussehra. The vote percentage of the BJP at the recently held Sabang byelections has worried Mamata. She is afraid of polarisation of Hindu votes. This is to be noted that the three major parties in the State — the TMC, Left, and Congress — will have to fight for a single vote bank.
LALU’S CANDIDATE FOR RS
The biennial election for 58 Rajya Sabha seats will be held in March. Among these 58 seats, six are from Bihar. These six RS members from Bihar are going to retire in April. Of these, four are from the JDU and two are from the BJP. According to the present equation and calculation, there are chances that two candidates from the JDU and one from the BJP would win. Rest of the seats might go to the Congress and the RJD.
The question that arises is who will Lalu Prasad send to the Rajya Sabha? In 2016, he had given one seat to his daughter Misa Bharti and the other to Ram Jethmalani. At that time, Lalu was under family compulsions because the elections had just been held and he had got two berths for his sons in the Government. So, he had to send Misa to the Rajya Sabha to strike a balance in the family.
Sources say Rabri Devi was not sent to the Rajya Sabha due to Misa. Earlier, her name had been finalised but at the last moment, Misa was given the green signal. If Rabri is sent to the Rajya Sabha, then she will get a big bungalow in Delhi, like a Cabinet Minister, as she was a former CM, and that is much needed for Lalu’s family. That is why there is speculation that Lalu might send Rabri to the Rajya Sabha.
The real suspense is on the other seat. On New Year, Sharad Yadav met Rabri and this has led to a lot of speculations. He not only met Rabri but gave his full support to Lalu. On January 2, he wanted to meet Lalu at Ranchi jail but permission was not granted. That is why people are guessing that Sharad Yadav can be a candidate from the other seat. This is to be noted that the chairman of the Rajya Sabha had suspended Sharad Yadav’s membership, which has been partially quashed by the High Court. If he gets the RJD ticket, then he will resign, and in that case, his own seat will go to the JDU in the byelections.
THE FATE OF BIHAR CONGRESS
What is happening in the Bihar Congress in the run-up to the Rajya Sabha elections? Sources in the party say that the name of the new Congress president of the State might be announced any time after January 15. It is being said that names of presidents of Bihar and Jharkhand Congress were finalised at the same time, but at the last moment, the name for Bihar was not announced. A Bihar Congress leader claims that an impending revolt within the party has been deferred only because the announcement was postponed. If the high command chooses a strong president, then the party will remain united.
A senior leader says that in Bihar and Jharkhand, the Congress will strengthen itself before forging an alliance. So, in Bihar, such a leader can be roped in who doesn’t openly support Lalu. If this happens, the Congress will probably remain united. A second formula can also be put in place: The State party president might be given one Rajya Sabha seat and he must be given the responsibility to keep the party united and win the RS seat.
The name of former president Anil Sharma is being discussed under the first formula, and name of former Minister Akhilesh Singh is being mulled under the second formula. Though both leaders are Bhumihars and are not quite relevant for the Congress and the RJD after the BJP-JDU alliance. That is why the name of a backward leader is also being discussed. Ranjeet Ranjan, Pappu Yadav’s wife, could also be a contender, but Lalu is not comfortable with that.
To win one seat of the Rajya Sabha in Bihar, 35 votes will be required. The Congress has 27 MLAs and will require eight more. On the other hand, the RJD has 80 MLAs and even after winning two seats, it will be left with 10 MLAs. These can be transferred to the Congress. But the apprehension of revolt in the Congress remains. The BJP and JDU are trying to make this happen. The BJP-led NDA has 59 MLAs and it will need 11 votes to win the other seat of the Rajya Sabha, and for this, the party is eyeing the Congress MLAs.
FUTURE PLAN OF MAYAWATI
Mayawati is quite happy with the BSP’s performance in the Panchayat elections, and has started the preparation for the next Lok Sabha Elections. She is preparing a list of 80 probable candidates. When she demanded a change in the Constitution, Mayawati attacked the Congress along with the BJP, and this was an indication that she is not thinking about an alliance. That is why questions are being raised about her political strategy. She has two options: In the coming days, byelections can be held for the vacant seats of UP. Phulpur is one of the seats where the BSP has a good hold. This seat has been lying vacant after the resignation of KP Maurya, and this is being debated that Mayawati can be the joint candidate of the Opposition. Though this is also true that the Samajwadi Party is gearing up to field a BSP veteran. Despite that, if the SP, BSP, and Congress agree, there is a chance for a joint candidate.
There is another possibility: The Congress and SP will assure Mayawati a Rajya Sabha seat in the elections scheduled for March. In UP, to win a Rajya Sabha seat, 37 votes are needed. In this scenario, eight seats will go to the BJP and one seat will go to the SP. For the 10th seat, both parties will try their might. If the SP transfers its 10 remaining votes to Mayawati, she can win with the help of the Congress. Sources say the three parties can sit together and take a decision over the 10th seat of the Rajya Sabha, and the Phulpur seat. If Mayawati doesn’t fight either from Phulpur or Gorakhpur, then the SP and Congress might send her to the Rajya Sabha.
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