Rahul Gandhi’s gradual return to the political centrestage is being silently celebrated by the Bharatiya Janata Party as it has got a fresh opportunity to reactivate its campaign against the Congress leader.
The BJP had been finding it difficult to attack the Congress during the brief period Rahul Gandhi stepped back from political activities following his resignation as party chief last year.
But it is back to old times once again. Now each time Rahul Gandhi addresses a press briefing or tweets, pointing to the Narendra Modi government’s inadequate response to the Covid-19 pandemic or its mismanagement of the migrant crisis, the BJP loses no time in lining up senior party leaders and ministers to counter the Nehru-Gandhi scion and resurrect his image of a dilettante and a non-serious politician.
From Smriti Irani and Prakash Javadekar to Ravi Shankar Prasad all have been fielded over the past week to take down Rahul Gandhi. Going a step further, the BJP has even brought out a booklet to rebut the points raised periodically by Rahul Gandhi about the pandemic in India.
For the record, the BJP says Rahul Gandhi’s statements should be dismissed as insignificant.
It is well-acknowledged that journalist-turned-politician Rajeev Shukla has friends across party lines and in diverse fields including sports and Bollywood. He also makes sure that he is seen and photographed with the right people at high-profile programmes.
The ongoing corona lockdown has obviously restricted Mr Shukla’s movements but the former minister is making effective use of social media to connect with the outside world and keep up his relations with those who matter.
Mr Shukla recently retweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message condoling former hockey star Balbir Singh’s passing, praised civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri for successfully restarting domestic flights on Twitter, responded to actor Priyanka Chopra’s tweet on the sacrifices made by soldiers and wished Ravi Shastri on his birthday. This is, of course, in addition to his regular tweets on the Congress.
Former minister Jitin Prasada recently discovered that there is some merit to the phrase: the more things change, the more they remain the same. Though reduced to a pale shadow of its old self in Uttar Pradesh, there has been no end to the internal feuds and bitter infighting, which have come to define the party over the years.
When the lockdown imposed over two months ago put a temporary halt to conventional political activities, Mr Prasada decided to use the digital space to connect with the public in different parts of the state.
Starting with a small group, the membership of these meetings soon grew in numbers and spread to different districts. It was not long before Mr Prasada’s programme came to the notice of the powers-that-be in the Uttar Pradesh Congress.
And shortly thereafter he was asked to discontinue these e-meetings on the ground that the state unit would now conduct these programmes. It is obvious someone in the Uttar Pradesh Congress was nervous that this exercise would enhance Mr Prasada’s profile.
As it is, there is constant chatter about his proximity to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Congress general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has been left red-faced by recent developments in its state units. First, a senior party leader in Haryana, Chander Parkash Kathuria was expelled for six years for “alleged immoral activities”.
The BJP leader was expelled after a video showed him falling when he used a sheet to come down from a friend’s second floor balcony. This was followed by the resignation of Rajeev Bindal, president of the BJP’s Himachal Pradesh unit.
He was asked to go following accusations of corruption in the purchase of coronavirus equipment. If the BJP grapevine is to be believed, further embarrassment awaits the party. Apparently, a sting operation showing a senior BJP leader in poor light has been brought to the notice of the Prime Minister and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat. Their verdict is awaited.
It certainly pays to have a “godfather” or, in this case, a “godmother” in the Congress. When Ajay Kumar Lallu, Uttar Pradesh Congress president, was recently arrested by the Yogi government the party lost no time in condemning his arrest and demanding that the false cases against him be withdrawn immediately.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Congress general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh, put out a series of tweets in which she praised Lallu’s grit and perseverance and accused the Yogi government of violating all humanitarian principles for arresting the Opposition leader.
However, no one important in the party came to the rescue of Anil Chaudhary, Delhi Congress president, when he was placed under house arrest by the Delhi Police.
Mr Chaudhary was detained a day after he accompanied Rahul Gandhi to meet stranded migrant workers near Delhi’s Sukhdev Vihar. Unlike Lallu, Mr Chaudhary was left to fend for himself as the party bosses failed to take note of his detention.