Thursday, August 21, 2008

Diminishing returns of Congress

The political assessment about Congress’s future in the Hindi belt of Madhya Pradesh and Bihar appears bleak and weak .

In Madhya Pradesh, the state Congress in being headed by Suresh Pachouri, a leader who has never won an election, not even that of municipality. On top of that, Suhash Yadav, Jamuna Devi, Digvijay singh, Kamal Nath, Arjun singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia, all have their own nut to grind leaving Pachori with the difficult task of pleasing everyone and dislodging the firmly rooted BJP from the state. In short Pachouri has to manoeuver through a maze that has no end.

The tremors of intra-party factionalism has never allowed Pachouri to prepare for himself a firm ground, standing on which he can at least think of challenging Shivraj Singh Chauhan.

At the moment, most of the strings that are controlled by the Digvijays, the Kamalnaths and the Scindias are being pulled from Delhi, but once the monsoon of election sets in, all these clouds will make a beeline for Madhya Pradesh and then Pachouri will have his task cut out.

Relationship between Pachouri and KamalNath are not in the best of state and only time will tell how much damage will the Chindwara power house do to Pachori. Ajay Singh, son of Arjun Singh and Nakul Nath,son of Kamal Nath will add their own bit to the whole story as both of them will try to establish themselves in the political map of the state and the assembly elections will be the arena that will decide their rise or fall.

While commenting on the situation of Congress in Bihar one will strain his yes and yet find no leaders to talk or write of. The word ‘bleak’ will be an understatement to describe the situation, as the state congress is virtually defunct in this eastern state.

The fact that AICC secretary in charge KC Deo, who was the State Congress in-charge for one year, never thought of visiting Bihar even once speaks volumes about the importance the Congress leadership attaches to Bihar.

There are only three Congress MPs from Bihar in the parliament. Nikhil Kumar (former Delhi police commissioner and son of former chief minister,Satyendra Narayan Sinha), Meira Kumar (daughter of Babu Jagjivan Ram) and Shakeel Ahmed(son of former Bihar speaker,Shakoor Ahmad). The party also has merely nine MLAs in the state assembly, and no one will surprised if it’s representation in the state goes down even further in the future.

Recently, Bihar Pradesh Congress saw a new chief being appointed. Anil Sharma who has emerged through the corridors of student politics of Patna University recently replaced Sadanand Singh.

Sharma, like Pachouri has never won an election not was even an MLC, fits more comfortably in the role of a palmist. He is an expert palmist and astrologer and if one is to go by news coming from within the party, Sharma got the job after he was recommended by Vincent George, the ‘now-almost-forgotten’ secretary of Ms.Sonia Gandhi. George reportedly pushed Sharma’s candidature because he was pleased by the accuracy of the forecasts predicated by him while reading George’s palm.

Unlike in other states, in Bihar it is Lalu Yadav who decides the ticket distribution for the Congress party. The state Congress has paid a very heavy price to keep the alliance between the RJD and the UPA at the Centre functioning. Lalu while working in a systematic way has made sure that Congress is brought down to a point, from where it will take years if not decades to stand up again. And the one party that has gained from this has been Ram Vilas Pawan’s LJP. For years to come the electorate battle in the state will be fought between the troika of JD (U), the RJD and the LJP. Leaving both the main national parties, the BJP and the Congress to play the role of a mere substitute

In Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the Congress is going to contest the elections on its own strength. In the past, it had made “strategic arrangements” with the Bahujan Samaj party and the Left giving them a couple of constituencies, but in Bihar, it is dependent on the RJD only. If it goes alone in Bihar, the party can become organizationally stronger. The party leaders had recently told the treasurer, Motilal Vora that the workers at the grass root level were “jobless” even during the election campaign as they were not required for campaign as most of the seats were given to the RJD in alliance. They feared the party may lose its ground in the villages, if this trend continued for long .The party may no win more seats, but it may be revived with the “involvement” of the workers in the villages.

In Chhattisgarh the prospects appear better for the Congress, as the tribal belt of Surguja and Bastar are not happy with their respective BJP MLAs. In the previous election, it was this belt which voted against the Congress and led BJP to power. The Salva Judum movement too will come into play as most of the tribals are disenchanted by it. This tribal belt will perhaps decide that who amongst the seekers will finally get the treasure.

The tickets for the forthcoming assembly elections is Chhattisgarh will be distributed through mainly two counters; one being manned by the former CM and MP Ajit jogi and the other that has the octogenarian Motilal Vohra at its helm. In the political equation that will possibly emerge in this state, many other leaders like Satyanarayan Sharma, Charan das Mahant, VC Shukla will also play small yet pivotal part to make the equation more ‘exciting’.

The intra-party factionalism and the honest image of Raman Singh will be the only thing that may stop Congress from capturing the required number of seats. While on one hand the Rs 3 kg rice scheme for the poor in Chhattisgarh may help Raman Singh to retain the tribals votes but on the other the below satisfactory performance of his colleagues among the tribals will make it difficult for Raman to consolidate on the advantage that he will get from the rice scheme.

Dilip Singh Judeo, who was a chief ministerial candidate in 2003 has been sidelined and is now busy with his re-conversion programmes.

The factionalism that has emerged in this state has led to the birth of two poles for the Congress workers to choose from. ‘With Jogi’ and ‘Against Jogi’, is the possible resting house that will probably come-up in the state. In fact the detractors of Jogi within Congress may well outnumber his enemies that are in the BJP. The birth of ‘Against Jogi’ group can be traced to 2000 when the state came into existence and Jogi was appointed the first CM. Claims of many other leaders like the Shukla brothers and that of numerous other aspirants were dismissed by Sonia Gandhi while appointing the much ‘junior’, Ajit Jogi. Seven years later the swords are still drawn and though each side claims the odd success in the battle, but the one final war is still to be fought.


1 comment:

Tiger said...

good points and observation abhi.. keep blogging


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