Brothers, rakhi sisters & the usurped Patel

Prime Minister Modi was clearly caught unawares when the agitation launched by Patels to demand OBC tag for their community took a violent turn last week.
Mr Modi quickly addressed the nation with an appeal to the people of Gujarat to desist from violence and reminded them that there was no place for such aggression in the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel.

To further underline this message, two photographs of the Mahatma and Patel were strategically placed on the shelf behind him in clear view of the camera. This appeared to be an afterthought as Patel’s photograph was bigger than that of Gandhi. The agitators in Gujarat, led by Hardik Patel, have been invoking Patel’s name to press their demand and to warn of dire consequences if the government does not agree on a quota for their community. Mr Hardik Patel has clearly emerged as Mr Modi’s rival when it comes to usurping Sardar Patel as their icon.

The Congress defeat in a string of local elections has, once again, shown that its leadership in the states is just not up to the mark. The most common complaint against them is that they are not available in the states as they prefer to be in New Delhi. Take the case of Digvijaya Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia. They visit their home state, Madhya Pradesh, only periodically and were barely available to campaign in the recent local elections in which the Congress was trounced. And yet both see themselves as contenders for the CM’s post. There are similar complaints about Haryana Congress president Ashok Tanwar who is also spotted more in Delhi than in his state.

When Sachin Pilot was appointed president of the party’s unit in Rajasthan, he came in for praise after the young leader packed his bags and set up base in the state. But Mr Pilot appears to be emulating his colleagues now. Recently when journalists in Delhi called him up, Mr Pilot maintained he was in Rajasthan. But shortly later, Mr Pilot was seen in the office of a media organisation for a briefing on the party’s performance in the Rajasthan polls. Fastest flight award is in order.

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan faced a lot of flak in the Monsoon Session of Parliament for her bias towards the Opposition parties. However, she took the criticism in her stride as such barbs are part of the game as former Speaker Somnath Chatterjee also faced similar accusations from the Opposition. But NCP leader Sharad Pawar’s recent sharp comments about the unfair treatment meted out to the Opposition by Ms Mahajan must have hurt her. Referring to her bias towards the BJP, Mr Pawar had said if he was a Lok Sabha member he would have also gone into the well of the House to register his protest against the Speaker.

Mr Pawar is widely acknowledged as a mature politician who measures his words when he talks to the media. So Mr Pawar is taken seriously when he speaks. More importantly, Ms Mahajan and Mr Pawar have always had excellent relations. Not only are they both from Maharashtra but were also neighbours in New Delhi for many years. Ms Mahajan would send a rakhi across to Mr Pawar on Raksha Bandhan and sweets on his birthday. It is not known if Ms Mahajan continued this after the NCP chief’s recent comments about her.

Lok Janshakti Party leader and food and consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan and his brother Pashupati Paras, who heads the party’s Bihar unit, have decided to play the proverbial good cop, bad cop. In a string of recent interviews, Mr Paswan was at his diplomatic best playing down reports about any tension between the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies with regard to the delay in finalising their seat sharing arrangement for the forthcoming Bihar Assembly polls. Mr Paswan insisted that there were no problems and that formal talks on seat distribution would begin in a week’s time.

Mr Paswan was also quick to deny that he was a possible contender for the chief minister’s post. While Mr Paswan was making conciliatory noises in Delhi, Mr Paras along with another BJP partner Rashtriya Lok Samata Party Bihar chief Arun Kumar, addressed the media in Patna to issue an ultimatum to the BJP leadership to commence seat sharing talks within a week.

Unlike his brother, Mr Paswan is so circumspect that he was not even willing to disclose the number of seats demanded by his party, saying he had left these details to his brother as he is in charge of the party’s Bihar unit. Obviously, there are no takers for this display of feigned ignorance as it is well known that it is Mr Paswan who calls the shots in his party.

The writer is a Delhi-based journalist

( Source : deccan chronicle )
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