Strange Happenings In The South
The huge turnouts at Modi rallies in Chennai and Kerala have made poll analysts scratch their heads. Do such massive crowds mean that Narendra Modi is carving a sizeable chunk of voters for the BJP? Their suspicion deepened when at rallies in Kerala, the crowds were so massive that even Keralites were taken aback. One CEO in a major company who comes from Trivandrum said that such a huge turnout was really amazing. Most in the crowd were between 25 and 40. “They earn Rs 500 to Rs 600 a day, but they came on a working day. This means Modi wave is very much in my state.” Nair community is pro-BJP and part of the Church has always liked BJP-RSS. The people could be looking for a third alternative. Pollsters give BJP, anything between six to eight Lok Sabha seats from Kerala. Significantly both in Chennai and Trivandrum Modi played the caste card. He said OBCs have been suppressed for a long time. He himself experienced discrimination. But now he said the next decade is going to belong to the OBC and Dalits. He said if in power he would assure this. Modi would possibly play this card in UP as well. But he would have to use it very diplomatically because Brahmins, Rajputs and Vaish are also in large numbers. We will know soon.
Congress Lets Kejriwal Hunt Its Own
An explosion of the intensity of a nuclear bomb was expected at 11.30 pm in Delhi on February 11. Since morning emails were being received informing that a settlement has been reached between the Congress Party and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The agreement was that the Congress MLAs supporting Arvind Kejriwal Delhi government let it pass the Jan Lokpal Bill. But it would not be signed either by the Lt. Governor or the President. Unless, and here was the crux, Kejriwal at the scheduled press conference accuse Narendra Modi of corruption.
The Economic Times also printed on its first page that Kejriwal would expose Modi at the press conference. So there was heightened interested in the press conference. But Kejriwal targeted Mukesh Ambani, Veerappa Moily and Murli Deora along with the director-general of Hydrocarbons VK Sibal.
This was least expected. He ordered the city’s anti-corruption wing to file criminal cases against Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani and Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily, among others, for allegedly creating artificial scarcity of natural gas and fixing prices.
He also named Moily’s predecessor in the oil ministry, Murli Deora, and former director general of hydrocarbons V K Sibal. He said he had received complaints in this regard from some “eminent persons” who spoke about alleged collusion between some ministers and industrialists to create artificial shortage of gas and hike prices unnecessarily.
“We have asked the Anti-Corruption Bureau to file criminal cases against Murli Deora, Veerappa Moily, V K Sibal, Mukesh Ambani, Reliance Industries Ltd and others.”
Congress, one understands, is unlikely to withdraw support to AAP government, although Moily while rubbishing the allegations, said, “We should sympathise with his (Kejriwal’s) ignorance. He does not know how the government runs. Norms are followed. There is a system in fixing prices.”
Kejriwal also demanded that the gas fields allocated to Reliance Industries in the Krishna-Godavari basin off the Andhra Pradesh coast be taken back and handed over to the state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp.He said he would also raise the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and call for a further hike in gas prices from April 1 to be kept in abeyance—after the company was allowed to charge a higher rate of around $4 per unit a couple of years ago.
“The gas lobby has bribed both the Congress and the opposition parties. Why are they keeping quiet?” Kejriwal queried. He said if Reliance Industries was allowed to hike the prices from April 1, it will enjoy a bonanza of Rs.54,000 crore. The Chief Minister also maintained that it was within his rights to call for a probe.
“The Delhi government says it (the matter) is under the purview of the Anti- Corruption Bureau or the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as the pricing was decided in Delhi and complaint is filed here,” he said.
“The complainants have mentioned that most of the offences, including the fixing of gas prices, were all done in Delhi. It affects the entire population of Delhi,” the Chief Minister added.
These are very serious charges. The Congress Party and its ministers have been indicted in public. But there is no news or even rumours that it intends to withdraw support to AAP government. This despite a senior minister like Moilly saying that Kejriwal does not know how to govern.
Insiders informed that Rahul Gandhi is responsible for all this sort of confused moves and rigidity in pursuing one set line and refusing to adjust according to changed situations. How does the Congress leadership intend to assuage the hurt feelings of the seniors and veteran party leaders, or does it propose to dump them?
In the allegedly befuddled mind of the young Prince, if any of the persons indicted by Kejriwal is sentenced, Rahul could, addressing rallies or a press conference, claim that he was serious about punishing the corrupt. But the ones who would be sacrificed are veterans. They would not take the insult by a person surviving on Congress support, and which the Gandhis condoned.
This kind of policy to enable Rahul claim that he was anti-corruption could cost him very dearly, including possible rout in election, exodus from the party near the election or a split post-polls.
Such kind of politics of AAP is killing Congress leaders with impunity which could be “injurious to the political health of the party and its stewards”.
Alarm Bells Ringing For Kamal Nath
He is one of the most important ministers for Sonia Gandhi. He is consulted by her quite often. In fact Kamal Nath succeeded to overtake Digvijay Singh in the Gandhi court. Ironically, it was Singh who introduced him to Mrs Gandhi. But guru gur hi rah gaye and chela shakkar baan gaya. Digvijay Singh had to be content with closeness to Rahul.
But the chela could be in trouble. The BJP is making an all out attempt to capture his Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat in Madhya Pradesh. Nath is a nine-time MP from here. The BJP believes that if it can wrest Chhindwara, it can make a clean sweep in the state. Last week, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan visited the constituency along with BJP president Rajnath Singh and former president Nitin Gadkari. Tribal leader Faggan Singh Kulaste was also present. Chhindwara has a tribal population of over 30 per cent and the BJP is planning to put up a tribal from there for the first time.
Strangers Become Political Bedfellows
The Congress camp has been in a nervous state since the news that Sharad Pawar met Narendra Modi, the most detested enemy of the Gandhis. He put more salt on the wound when he said he saw no reason to not meet Modi. His junior colleague Praful Patel had earlier said that once all courts cleared Modi of abetting 2002 riots, there was no reason to continue accusing him of the riots. He also would be sharing the dais with Modi at a function in a temple.
Reliable sources said that post-election, National Congress Party of Pawar would ally with Modi. The two might have some understanding even before the election. Mamata Banerjee is also livid at Jayalalithaa for forming the nucleus of Third Front with CPI. Her confidante and MP David O’Brien said for his TMC party any alliance with communists is ‘paap’ (sin). It means in case Mamata Banerjee wants to have presence at the Centre she would have to negotiate some sort of understanding with Modi if he is able to form a government in New Delhi.
There are rumours that another senior cabinet minister had a secret meeting with Narendra Modi some time ago.
And the BSP chief Mayawati, Didi, would not join any Third Front of which Mulayam Singh is a part. So if she wants to be in power, her only option is BJP. The Congress Party has almost negligible presence in UP.