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Rahul’s ability to lead party being questioned, yet again
Trouble could well be the middle name of Rahul Gandhi. The Congress vice-president’s problems only seem to be mounting with every passing moment. Along with senior members of the Congress, many leaders from other parties are also either opposing Rahul’s elevation to the party president post or raising questions over it. Recently, Mulayam Singh Yadav questioned the Gandhi scion’s abilities, saying that the command of the Congress must remain in Sonia Gandhi’s hands — at least for now.
Though this is also true that Mulayam is not heard even in his own party ie the Samajwadi Party. And so, his views will be of no importance. But this has certainly given an opportunity to the leaders of other parties to raise their apprehensions over Rahul’s impending coronation. It is no secret that the NCP chief Sharad Pawar tries to evade Rahul for any political talks and rather prefers Sonia. This must be noted that both the SP and NCP are crucial for a grand alliance of the Opposition. The SP president, Akhilesh Yadav, might defy the advice of his father but Sharad Pawar is still heard in his party.
Rahul and his team have great hopes from Mamata Banerjee, Akhilesh, and Stalin. They feel that these three can accept Rahul as the face of the united Opposition. Lalu Prasad’s views are also changing slowly, and he doesn’t oppose Rahul like he did earlier. If Rahul takes part in Lalu’s rally on August 27, it is likely that they will come closer. Despite all this, team Rahul feels that Sonia has to work hard to ensure that the Opposition leaders thaw towards Rahul. Even then, it is difficult to form a consensus on Rahul’s name within his own party. After the victory of Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha election, senior leaders of the Congress are trying to persuade Sonia to continue as president.
If the Lok Sabha Elections are held as per schedule in 2019, then four Assembly Elections will be held along with them — in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Arunachal Pradesh, and Odisha. However, if the proposal of the Central Government is implemented, then the Lok Sabha Elections will be pre-scheduled and Assembly Elections in almost one dozen States could be held simultaneously. Sources say the Government is seriously working on the plan to hold Lok Sabha and Assembly polls together. If all States don’t go to polls along with Lok Sabha, the Government is trying to hold as many as it can.
This is possible because all States where elections are to be held between the end of the next year to the end of 2019 are BJP ruled. So, if the PM wants to hold the elections of the Lok Sabha and Assemblies in one go, there will neither be the need to go for Constitution amendment nor does he have to tell the Opposition parties to discontinue the Assembly. Sources say the Government has even formed a committee to seek a viewpoint on this and the decision might be taken after Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections.
Sources say elections might be held any time next year after the Budget. This must be noted that next year, the Modi Government will be presenting its last Budget, so to speak. It can go into elections after announcing several schemes. It’s being said that the Lok Sabha Elections and Assembly Elections of several States can be held at the same time by the end of next year.
Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh will go into polls by the end of next year. It will be easier to have Lok Sabha Elections along with the Assembly polls in these States. So, some say that Tripura, Meghalaya, and Karnataka polls will be held as per schedule, and by the end of 2018, the Lok Sabha Elections can be held. Elections of States scheduled at the end of 2019 can be pre-scheduled, and if that happens, polls in MP, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Andhra, Telangana, Arunachal, Odisha, Maharashtra, Haryana, and Jharkhand will be held at the same time. The BJP has to coax the Governments of only two States — Telangana and Odisha — to discontinue the Assemblies ahead of schedule.
CONG TO OPPOSE CENTRE PLAN
The Congress will oppose the plan of the Centre and the BJP to hold Assembly Elections in maximum States along with the Lok Sabha Elections. Till date, the Centre has not taken any initiative in this direction, but the Congress is gearing up to go against it. Though the BJP feels that the Congress stand will have least effect on the proposal because the Centre is not planning to pre-schedule elections in any State where the Congress is in power. Most of the States which are supposed to go into elections before schedule are BJP ruled. States like Odisha and Telangana are, of course, ruled by Opposition parties. If the Lok Sabha Elections are held at the end of 2018, then opposition by any of these parties will not be of importance because as per the Constitution, the EC can take a decision to pre-schedule any election by six months.
Sources in the Congress say the party will oppose the plan and motivate the regional parties to follow suit. The Congress feels the plan will only benefit the BJP, and the Congress as well as regional parties will face huge losses — the reason being the graph of PM Narendra Modi’s popularity. The Congress feels that if elections are held simultaneously, then the focus will shift to Modi. A Congress leader says this is not an issue of one national face but also a matter of preparedness and availability of resources. At this time, the BJP is the most affluent party and can face any election at any point of time.
SHOCK POLITICS AT PLAY
Those who are trying to form a grand alliance against the BJP are in for a shock. Though getting jolts in Indian politics has become a routine affair now. Some time ago, Nitish Kumar had given a shock. He used to talk about Sangh-mukt Bharat, but joined hands with the BJP. The other jolt can be given by Pawar. His party is maintaining distance from the Opposition politics, and it is being said that he will take a decision after judging the ground realities of Maharashtra.
The fight between Mamata and the Left can give another big blow. A senior CPM leader says they can never have good relations with Mamata. Though he claims that Sitaram Yechury is strongly supporting an alliance between the Left, TMC, and Congress to stop the BJP, the Central Committee and Politburo will not accept this. The CPM leader adds that when Yechury could not coax his party for his Rajya Sabha seat, how will he motivate his party to join hands with Mamata?
In fact, most leaders of the Central Committee and Politburo are of the view that if the Left goes with Mamata, the BJP will become stronger in West Bengal and the party will automatically get space in Opposition politics. They think that when the alliance ends and secular parties go their own ways, the BJP will become stronger. That is why it is being said that the CPM is ready to lose one more election, but will not forge an alliance with Mamata. Recently, CPM leaders sharply attacked Mamata, saying the BJP is progressing in the State due to her politics.
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