When Allies Desert Like Rats In Sinking Ship
After the triumphant return to power in 2004, at the first iftar party Sonia Gandhi hosted, the scramble for invites was so frenzied that one or two latched themselves to any leader who was on the list of guests.
But after the first entry, the trespassers were shown the door without saying please. Those were the days when Sonia reigned supreme.
Ten years later, in 2014, at the iftar party she hosted it seemed more wanted to avoid attending it. This is what happens when bad days strip one of all grandeur and force one to accept that one is nobody. The so-called secular friends were missing at the party and Sonia was left to seek comfort in the company of Lalu, himself living in total rejection and Sharad Yadav, who is almost party less.
But small mercies, her own party MPs were present in full strength, though the party leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge was absent. The attendance reflected the Congress’s political isolation. An interesting political equation may evolve sooner than expected, following her “secular friends” absent at the iftar party. Also top leaders of its allies were also conspicuously absent. For instance, the NCP supremo Sharad Pawar chose to stay away, sending instead his deputy Tariq Anwar. RLD’s Ajit Singh was missing too. The secular bandwagon, be it the Left parties, Samajwadi Party or the BSP, was unrepresented. Top Congress leaders said the absence of many was because the day being a Sunday and that the Parliament too was not meeting on Monday and Tuesday. “We have received several letters,” a senior leader said, an excuse not many gave any credence.
In fact, the poor attendance at Sonia’s iftar was telling about the Congress’s political isolation, both in Parliament and outside. Its claim for the Leader of the Opposition post in Lok Sabha has found no backing from parties outside the UPA. Parties like the AIADMK, Trinamool Congress and the BJD are not even willing to share the front bench with the Congress leadership. They are keeping distance from the Congress, as if it is suffering from some contagious disease.
There were other significant indications of political upheaval in the Congress. Manmohan Singh refused Sonia’s request to join her table and sat separately with non-political guests, with the likes of former Chief Election Commission S Y Quraishi and Sharmila Tagore. It cannot be that Dr Singh has in his old age developed attraction for beautiful women. Mystery could be resolved soon.
And the successor to Sonia and the party’s second-in-command Rahul Gandhi sat with diplomats, with Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and deputy leader Anand Sharma giving him company. How the great have fallen. Even the size of the diplomatic core was disheartening. Only Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit and the Russian Ambassador were among those present. Where have the western diplomats gone?
This iftar party turned out to be an indication that the Dynasty is on the verge of disappearing from the Indian political scene. What an inglorious, unlamented end of a family that gave three Prime Ministers and a daughter-in-law who ruled autocratically for a decade!
Can BJP Come To Power In J&K?
The BJP, riding high, at least so far, on its stupendous success has now designs on Kashmir. The first reaction would be: Are you joking? But the party is serious about it. One hears that RSS activists have already been sent to Jammu and the Valley. The first step planned is to win over most Hindus in Jammu area and some who are still in the Valley. Amit Shah would go after ‘organising’ the fighting machinery in Haryana, Maharashtra etc. The party has been encouraged by the fact that the entire JD(U) in Jammu has merged with the BJP and several Congressmen, and even some Muslims too have enrolled with the saffron party. In the Valley, Hina Bhat, daughter of an influential National Conference leader, created a stir when she joined the BJP.
The BJP think tank is confident of creating history in the October election. If it happens, the cascading effect, all positive, would soon be manifest. And it might be possible to negotiate with Pakistan from a position of strength.
Is MMS Alarmed As Nemesis Catches Up With His Close Aides?
It had to happen. But what would be alarming and worrisome for the Gandhis, already pushed into political morass by the voter, is that the ones being quizzed by the CBI in connection with Coalgate scam are all close aides of Dr Manmohan Singh when he was Prime Minister. The senior bureaucrats in his PMO have also been reportedly quizzed. TK Nair, almost an alter ego of Manmohan Singh, has allegedly been interrogated twice. He was the Principal Secretary when Dr Singh held the additional charge of Coal Ministry. It was during this period that coal blocks were allotted, which led to what is being termed as Coalgate scam.
Everyone knows that Nair enjoyed utmost confidence of Dr Singh, and thus despite various allegations against him, published in newspapers and periodicals, was not touched by anyone. Possibly pressure from 10, Janpath compelled Dr Singh to ultimately move Nair out of the Principal Secretary slot and give that to Polok Chaterjee, who is known to be Mrs Gandhi’s Man Friday. But Nair was not retired or rendered jobless. He was made adviser to the Prime Minister with the rank of minister of state. He is invaluable for Dr Singh. It is said the two are soul-mates and Nair knows more about Dr Singh than even Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
In fact problems of the officials posted at the PMO during Manmohan Singh’s regime are going up day by day. MK Narayanan, who was the National Security Advisor (NSA) in Manmohan government may also face the heat, sources allege. Recently, the CBI interrogated Narayanan—who was till recently the Governor of West Bengal—in Agusta Westland scam. This was the first time that the investigating agency went to any Raj Bhawan to question a Governor. Governors ESL Narasimhan and BV Wanchoo were also interrogated, following which the former put in his papers. But more serious for Dr Singh is the interrogation of Nair, the closest person to him, twice by the CBI, which means they are ‘prospecting’ very near the former Prime Minister. This would surely send ominous signals to 10, Janpath. But, would Dr Singh and Company blame 10, Janpath? Or would Dr Singh go down in history as the most ardent loyalist of the Gandhis, who never flinched from playing a puppet to the puppeteer at 10, Janpath. Martyr at any cost!
What A Joke, Rahul!
A few party members informed that Rahu Bhaiya was in a very happy and jovial mood at his mother’s iftar party despite it turning out to be a flop show. He was cracking jokes with media persons while refusing to give the “political byte” on the Nitin Gadkari bugging row or the Leader of the Opposition controversy. When told that Gadkari has denied that his house was bugged, Rahul jokingly asked, “Are they saying we did it?”
It does not seem to be a great joke. In fact, one of the about to rebel Congress leaders quipped, “Well, he would be in a jovial mood. He does not have the mental ability to understand that ground has slipped under his feet. All the people with low IQ are always happy.” He advised that we should talk with a psychiatrist for a confirmation of what he was saying.