While the Congress is still struggling to resolve its leadership crisis, the Bharatiya Janata Party is racing ahead with plans to expand its base and prepare for the next round of Assembly polls in Maharashtra, Jharkhand, and Haryana. Instead of resting on its laurels, the party wasted no time in launching a fresh membership drive with specific instructions to party workers to focus on districts where the BJP did not fare well in the last election. Their job is to convince the naysayers about the party’s philosophy and how it would benefit them to join the saffron camp. The idea is to take over the opposition space or whatever is left of it. The second target group is the beneficiaries of the Modi government's various schemes. Those involved with the enrolment drive have been told to persuade them to join the party so that they can be used to propagate the merits of the various schemes in their villages and neighborhoods. In addition, members have been told to identify local influential persons like artists,
social reformers and sportspersons whose star value can be used to attract young and non-committed voters. While the membership drive is to be completed by August 15, the BJP has also started work on the coming Assembly elections. To begin with, the recent International Yoga Day was converted into a political exercise with yoga programmes being organised right down to the taluka level. It was no coincidence that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in poll-bound Jharkhand on that day, BJP president and Union home minister Amit Shah participated in a yoga camp in
Haryana while yoga guru Baba Ramdev, an ardent BJP supporter, travelled to Maharashtra, another election-bound state, for a similar programme.
It’s over a month since the Lok Sabha election results were declared and the Congress notched up a paltry score of 52 seats but the grand old party has not learned any lessons from its second consecutive humiliating defeat. Congress insiders have been complaining that the attitude of senior party leaders remains unchanged and they are as inaccessible as ever. A party secretary recently recounted how he waited three months to get an appointment with a Congress general secretary and, that too after party president Rahul Gandhi asked them to meet to sort out pending organisational issues. The story does not end there. Finally, when the appointment did materialise, the secretary had to wait his turn for nearly an hour after which he was dismissed in less than 10 minutes on the plea that the general secretary was preoccupied. Incidentally, the concerned general secretary is known to be a Rahul Gandhi favourite.
Meanwhile, the stability of the Kamal Nath-led Madhya Pradesh government continues to be a subject of animated discussion in the capital’s political circles. Bharatiya Janata Party leaders insist that they are not making moves to destabilise the Congress government although it would not be difficult to topple it since the grand old party has a wafer-thin majority in the assembly. Upbeat after its landslide victory in the general election, gleeful BJP leaders insist that the Congress government will collapse under the weight of its internal contradictions.
In this context, they never fail to point to the open warfare being witnessed in the state Cabinet meetings with legislators owing allegiance to Jyotiraditya Scindia and Digvijaya Singh accusing the chief minister and the officials of discrimination against them. They maintain that bureaucrats are indifferent to them while their projects or any other requests pertaining to their constituencies are invariably ignored. The frequency of this publicly acrimonious blame game has increased after the Lok Sabha election results. This has led the BJP to believe that the Congress will witness an open revolt the day Mr Nath expands or reshuffles his Cabinet as those left out are unlikely to keep quiet.
The newly-appointed leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, courted controversy last week when enraged Bharatiya Janata Party members registered a strong protest to an objectionable remark made by him about Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Chowdhury was, however, quick to apologise, stating that he had tripped up because he is not fluent in Hindi. Having learned a bitter lesson in the early days of his innings as leader of the principal opposition party, Mr Chowdhury is not taking any chances now. After his faux pas, he cornered a Hindi journalist and asked him to give him an appropriate Hindi word for disabled.
The Congress leader wanted to know if it would be politically correct to say “pangu” which was predictably vetoed by the journalist who suggested he say “divyang”, the term used officially by the government. A grateful Mr Chowdhury told the mediaperson that he would trouble him in the future for further assistance with the Hindi language as he did not want to get into trouble again.
The writer is a Delhi-based journalist...