NARENDRA MODI, RAHUL GANDHI, SITARAM YECHURY AND MORE: A SUNDAY FULL OF POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS

It was a Sunday full of political developments.

First came the day’s first development. Narendra Modi took classes of his MPs (members of parliament) where he talked about the achievements of his government so far and pressed on the need to take the work to the public – ‘the work done by the government for the public must be taken to the public’.

The meet was being held under the clouds of Congress’ farmers rally and Modi sounded pro-people emphasising on the version of the land bill brought by his government and how it was better than the one brought by Congress’ in September 2013.

While making claims of such achievements, Modi must keep in mind that Sonia Gandhi and his trusted aide Manmohan Singh, the previous prime-minister (prime-minister of two terms, one highly successful, one highly corrosive – but he could not come out of the shadow of being a ‘yes man’ for Sonia Gandhi), also emphasised on a similar need – to take the work done by the government – for the people – to the people. And it is to be seen in the context that Sonia and Manmohan started feeling this need more pressingly when all the projected reports started indicating a clear rout for the Congress party and thus Manmohan Singh led United Progressive Alliance government.

Meanwhile, it was broken on airwaves that Sitaram Yechury was expected to be the next General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) as the party veteran S. Ramachandran Pillai had withdrawn his name.

Then came the next development.

The proposed mega rally of farmers by the Congress party at the Ramlila Ground of Delhi!

The rally began as it was being projected – as Congress’ initiative aimed at reclaiming the lost ground and beginning of the process had to be the National Democratic Alliance’s (led by the BJP, the party that rode to the power with clear mandate in 30 years, defeating the Congress) land acquisition ordinance which ‘it says is substantially different from the one passed by it in 2013, contains many harmful provisions and is clearly anti-farmer’.

And as – Rahul Gandhi’s comeback event.

But nothing changed. And nothing has changed it seems.

As expected, Rahul and Sonia came late. Manmohan Singh was mentioned in references, and was there in the front row, with a brief speech. After all, he was the previous prime-minister and Congress had its land acquisition bill during his second term.

Before them, there was a long list of Congress spokespersons and leaders to speak, to keep the audiences there till it was the turn of Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. But they bored them it seems. Also, Delhi’s heat was partly responsible, if we can say so. Today was the hottest day of Delhi thanks to the heat wave from Rajasthan that created some ‘away from the trend’ scene for Delhi.

Rahul spoke in the same way as he had been speaking. He spoke like ‘he was speaking while beginning his parliamentary career’. He spoke like ‘he was speaking four years ago’. He spoke like ‘he was speaking after the humiliating loss in the general elections last May’. He spoke like ‘he was speaking after the complete decimation in the Delhi assembly polls’.

He spoke like a typical political rival of Narendra Modi the way ‘he has always been speaking’.

If indeed it was a Rahul’s comeback event, there wasn’t anything like ‘comeback’ in this rally.

If there was indeed a leave of absence, its impact was limited to the inner faculties of Rahul Gandhi because outwardly, we could not see anything.

Moreover, after Rahul’s routine speech, expected on expected lines, people started leaving the Ramlila Ground even if Sonia was speaking. Also, none of the speeches, including that of Rahul, was impressive or earth-shattering.

It was, basically the same stuff about government being anti-farmer and Congress being pro-farmer, that we have been hearing about.

Also, the rally that was being promoted as Congress’ launch-pad and Rahul’s comeback event, was not at all had to be a place for empty rows. But empty rows were increasing in count as Sonia Gandhi was speaking.

Many farmers, brought to the rally venue, in trains and in buses, chose to leave the venue after listening to the leader who had brought them. Clearly, factionalism in the party, an increasingly nagging subject, was visible to everyone there.

So, while Rahul’s vacation or leave of absence or sabbatical (or absence) may secure him the President’s chair of the Congress party, as is reported and being discussed, but it is certainly not going to help the Congress party in the long run, if we read the signs now.

Then came the confirmational news from the Andhra Pradesh port city Visakhapatnam. Sitaram Yechury was elected the next General Secretary of CPI(M) anonymously after Pillai’s withdrawal on the last day of the party congress.

With it, the party got all new today – a new Central Committee, five permanent invitees and five special invitees and so on.

Midst a fading relevance!

The new General Secretary who takes over from Prakash Karat, a GS of three terms, has his task cut out. He has to make the politics of the Left Front relevant again. He has to win back bastions like West Bengal and Kerala. He has to extend the work of Manik Sarkar in Tripura, the only state (and politically not of much importance when we see it in Delhi’s context) where the CPI(M) is in government.

But he doesn’t know how.

The road ahead to the political relevance is chequered and plagued for the Left Front and India of the day is not offering any roadmap for revival.

Let’s see how he take the march forward. The one good thing that he said after taking over was ‘merger’ with the Communist Party of India (CPI). But then, there is no time-frame for the proposal to unite again. Apart from it was the routine stuff – like use of ‘comeback’ and ‘turnaround’ during his takeover speech.

Three big ticket developments a day before the Lok Sabha resumes – Narendra Modi comes from yet another successful foreign trip and delivers a speech for the BJP MPs during a work-shop – Rahul Gandhi makes first public appearance during a highly publicised Congress’ rally (a website was also launched) to take on the government’s land acquisition policy – CPI(M) gets its next General Secretary – and the related snippets – a Sunday is usually not news-heavy, but today it was.

And though, we did not reach at any point on the course of the contemporary political history of India (as expected), it well added to the political recipe of the day – a Sunday before a Monday – a Monday when the Lok Sabha is going to resume its session.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

CAN THIS ‘ZAMEENWAPSI’ BE A GOOD BEGINNING?

As expected (and claimed), Rahul Gandhi met a group of farmers before the Sunday rally at the Ramlila Ground.

As expected, he did not make any press appearance.

Instead, Congress came up with a website – http://www.zameenwapsi.com – a day before the mega farmers rally on April 19, that in turn, is a day before the Lok Sabha resumes its Budget Session.

Many in Congress are naming the rally as Rahul’s comeback event but the wise ones are planning it as pro-farmers rally that is intented to launh a series of protests against the land acquisition amendment ordinance.

So, basically it is anti-BJP movement enveloped as ‘Congress’ hands with farmers’ and this website is a reminder of how desperate the Congress party is to reclaim the lost ground.

This ‘desperateness’ is visible in many forms and one is the leadership crisis in the party. Good days are always taken care of but the whole party looks at party’s first family with folded hands during bad days. No one talks of the any other possible leadership that would be natural choice in any other political party.

And this website, with all technicalities, is an extension to that.

Rahul Gandhi-1

Rahul Gandhi-2

Rahul Gandhi-3

Rahul Gandhi-4

Here, the website begins with Rahul Gandhi (as expected). Sonia Gandhi, naturally, finds the place on the front page at the other edge. The second page is with Rajiv Gandhi. Manmohan Singh finds place on the third page along with Rahul and Sonia. After all, he is the previous prime-minister and it was under his government that the Congress’ land acquisition law was passed. Rahul was again on the fourth page.

Other Congress leaders are absent from the website (as expected). Also absent are Jawahar Lal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shasti and Indira Gandhi. And above all, the site’s frontage misses Mahatma Gandhi though the timeline about land acquisition in India that it talks about dates back to 1894.

Typical measures by the Congress party, very typical to its halfhearted but desperate measures of now!

Hopefully, other leaders including the historical figures find their place as the days pass on, though the site, and overall activity by the Congress party, which aims to lead the political opposition in targetting the BJP led NDA government, has an inherent danger of legitimising Narendra Modi that no one in Congress is, perhaps, thinking about.

Can Congress start to reclaim the lost ground with this ‘return of the land to its rightful owner’ pledge?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

AS EXPECTED (AND NOT EXPECTED), RAHUL GANDHI IS YET TO MEET ANYONE

As expected (and not expected), Rahul Gandhi is yet to meet anyone.

Reports say he is to meet some farmers next morning in the run up to the rally on Sunday. The farmers rally is a big thing for farmers and whether the party sees it as Rahul’s comeback event or not and the way ahead for the party depends on it.

So, the party is going full-throttle about it. Major Congress leaders and state satraps have taken the responsibility of arranging the crowd for the iconic Ramlila Ground, the epicenter of many historic rallies and movements.

So, Rahul is expected to meet the farmers tomorrow to reiterate them ‘Congress Ke Haath, Sabke Saath’ (Congress’ hands believe in taking everyone together.

And it the changed circumstances or the circumstances created after Rahul’s sabbatical or leave of absence (or absence, the way you want to put it) have made it like a ‘Rahul’s comeback event’, even if the whole machinery of Congress including its President Sonia Gandhi is looking ahead to make it a grand success.

Yes, like a mother, Sonia was there, yesterday and today, to greet and meet on Rahul’s comeback, and the day after. Priyanka Gandhi was also there yesterday.

Meanwhile, Rahul’s ‘leave of absence’ and his comeback continue to make for news elements. Even if the establishment was well aware of his whereabouts, his stay during the days of absence, his ‘reasons’ behind the absence, Congress’ leadership issue and old versus new guard would make for newsies in the days to come.

Rahul Gandhi is protected by the Special Protection Group (SPG) which is under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Also, he was out of India, using his passport, a service area under the Ministry of External Affairs. And as there is strong PMO (the Prime Minister’s office) this time, it would well be taking updates from the same. And a person like Rahul Gandhi cannot disappear like this, if the government and the top political leadership don’t want to.

Yes, it is a different matter if they (from the ruling party) don’t choose to tell us about him. After all, they are political rivals of the Congress party and have come to the power by defeating (a humiliating defeat) the later.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WELL, WHAT ABOUT RAHUL’S LOOKS NOW?

That is a million dollar question everyone should be asking.

Whether he would be in his beards and moustache or a new clean-shaven Rahul Gandhi will be unleashed before us?

The world, as we know, saw him today, this morning, for a brief period.

He was in car, a sports utility vehicle. And like his stature of coming from a political family like Nehru-Gandhi, he was in a sports utility vehicle, a big-sized one.

All we could catch of him was in passing moments the snapshot of which is not clear.

But what was clear that he was looking fit and was ‘clean shaven’, as revealed in this PTI image.

Rahul-PTI

So, is he charged now?

The face, in whatever passing reference, with a clean-shaved look, failed to tell us anything.

And given the spate of past failures – electoral, political and social – that gave him the epithet of a ‘reluctant politician’ – we are not going to guess it now.

Much depends on how he looks like and how he carries out his polity now irrespective of warring, demanding and celebrating Congress factions.

For the moment, he looks clean-shaved and fit, like one would expect him to be, after a long ‘leave of absence’ that included meditation sessions (including Vipassana).

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NOW THAT RAHUL GANDHI IS BACK..

Now that Rahul Gandhi is back, the Congress party needs to answer the following questions once again – question that are asked again and again – questions that have been asked with increased frequency during the 59 days of Rahul’s sabbatical (if we take February 16 as the starting day of his leave of absence) and the questions that will be asked with a ‘never -heard-of frequency’ now – the questions that are imperative for Congress’ future – the questions that have always been vital for the party post-2000.

What role will Sonia Gandhi play? Will she remain President of the party now?

Or some role bigger than a President will be chosen for her, given her age, her experience in Indian polity and given her necessity for a section of Congress’ leaders (or for that matter, the overall Congress)?

When will Rahul Gandhi make his first public appearance after his ‘return’? Will the April 19 Kisan Rally stand for his first public appearance as claimed by many Congress’ leaders?

When will he take over the Congress party from Sonia Gandhi? When will we come to know about his official coronation as the next Congress President?

What role will be entrusted to her elder sister, Priyanka Gandhi? Like the evergreen demands of the leaders from the grand old party of India – leaving Sonia Gandhi untouched or making Rahul Gandhi the party President – bringing Priyanka Gandhi to the mainstream of the party-politics also figures prominently.

Well, the government must be well aware of the whereabouts of the Congress party. After all, Rahul Gandhi is protected by the Special Protection Group (SPG) which is under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Also, if he was out of India, it would well reflect on his passport as his visit might be personal in nature, but it would have to follow the rules of land, i.e., entries in his passport. His overseas/abroad visits are bound to reflect on his passport maintenance of which comes directly under the Ministry of External Affairs.

And a person like Rahul Gandhi cannot disappear like this, even if he is in India where internet freedom is an issue – where a freedom fighter’s family, even if the freedom fighter in question is Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, is subjected to various snooping methods like they were done in the British colonial India – where the government has extensive methods and elaborate ways to know about anyone.

Yes, it is a different matter if they don’t choose to tell us about him. After all, they are political rivals of the Congress party and have come to the power by defeating (a humiliating defeat) the later.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/