Political Equations are in Flux Ahead of Assembly and Lok Sabha Polls

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The Congress President Rahul Gandhi said that the week-long AICC plenary session could pit ‘encompassing Indian ethos’ as the political, ideological and social moorings of Congress to counter ‘sectarian and narrow Hindutva ideology of the RSS-BJP combine’. The draft political resolution will focus more on the need for rebuilding the party from state to state project itself as a credible alternative to BJP nationally. Navodita, our Associate Editor, takes a hard look at the political churning in several states, as well as in the two major parties, BJP and Congress, ahead of the polls, in the weekly column. A Different Truths exclusive.

While the tussle is on ahead of 2019 polls, attention is now turning to Karnataka where assembly polls are due in May 2018. As both parties are busy holding meetings and rallies with their party men we also see a number of campaigns being addressed by both BJP and the Congress leaders in the state. Which way will the popular vote tilt, only time will tell. One thing is sure after the recent by-polls though that all is not hunky dory with the BJP.

According to data provided by Minister of State for Rural Development, Ram Kripal Yadav to The Hindu newspaper, it is found that the ranking of BJP-ruled states is not impressive. As West Bengal became the best performing state both in terms of allotting jobs and utilising funds under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act ( MGNREGA), Tamil Nadu occupied the second spot with 22.17 crore work days and spent Rs. 5, 981.75 crore, while Andhra Pradesh was third with 18.16 crore work days and funds worth Rs. 5054.17 crore.

Trinamool Congress leader and MP Manas Ranjan Bhunia said that states like Goa, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh were not doing well. Goa is ranked at the bottom with 94, 000 work days and spent funds worth Rs. 2.47 crore while Gujarat generated 2.93 crore work days and spent funds worth Rs. 793.50 crore and UP generated 15.6 crore work days and utilised funds worth Rs. 3, 701.54 crores.

In Tamil Nadu, Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Hassan endorsed the DMK’s demand that all Members of Parliament from Tamil Nadu should resign to exert pressure on the Central government to form the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) as per the Supreme Court’s order. Addressing the media he said that the Apex Court’s order mandated forming of the CMB within six weeks. Vis-à-vis Tamil Nadu, propelled by an order of the Delhi High Court that observed that an election symbol, ‘preferably pressure cooker’ be allotted to him, dissident AIADMK leader and R.K. Nagar M.L.A. T.T.V. Dhinakaran launched his new political party at Melur in Madurai district on March 15, the day the TN assembly session started. The new political party would serve as a platform to function ‘until the retrieval of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)’ completely.

The Congress party seems to be all set, too, to take charge of campaigning across the country including the states in which assembly elections are to be held. Keen to build momentum against the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress plans to start a Jan Sampark Yatra (roadshow to connect with voters) in the second half of April with plans to cover all 230 assembly constituencies. The Congress has been encouraged by the win in Kolaras and Mungaoli Assembly seats where its candidates defeated the BJP in a hard-fought battle. Since the Congress retained the Chitrakoot Assembly seat in a by-election, the party has scaled up its campaign against the Chouhan government. The Congress’ top leadership is even debating the proposal of announcing its chief ministerial candidate and the choice had to be narrowed down to Scindia and Nath.

In Haryana, the state Congress chief Ashok Tanwar toured constituencies on a bicycle as he concluded the first phase of the ‘Haryana Bachao-Parivartan Lao’ cycle rally at Pehowa in Kurukshetra. Party spokesperson Kuldeep Soni said the yatra had covered 14 Assembly constituencies in Panchkula, Ambala, Yamunanagar, and Kurukshetra.

However, all is not well within the NDA is all too clear as in the current session of the parliament, the allies Shiv Sena, and Telugu Desam Party have joined hands with the opposition. The AIADMK, whose sympathy towards the BJP is all too evident, has also been protesting against the delay in the formation of Cauvery Management Board. The BJP, however, cracked a whip on its MPs indicating it is determined to get on with the financial business required to complete legislative procedures related to the Union Budget despite Opposition protests which seemed to temporarily join hands with its allies. Parliamentary affairs Minister H.N. Ananth Kumar said that scams had happened in the UPA government’s tenure which was why the Congress was reluctant to debate and instead was resorting to loud protests.

Meanwhile, the Congress President Rahul Gandhi said that the week-long AICC plenary session could pit ‘encompassing Indian ethos’ as the political, ideological and social moorings of Congress to counter ‘sectarian and narrow Hindutva ideology of the RSS-BJP combine’. The draft political resolution will focus more on the need for rebuilding the party from state to state project itself as a credible alternative to BJP nationally. The draft economic resolution will also position Congress as a ‘pro-poor party’ with a professed commitment to economic reforms as an instrument for general economic welfare and empowerment of the socially and economically deprived sections and meet the aspirations of the youth, women and middle class. While Congress acknowledges the inevitability of coalition politics, the plenary session will assert on the prime task of rebuilding the party as it realizes the tactical requirement of projecting itself as a party ‘protective of its own space and expanding it’.

While both parties are bent on reorganising themselves, a lot of reshuffles will be seen in party cadres and political leaders in the days to come. With the TDP having withdrawn support is BJP in for more surprises ahead of elections is the big question.

©Navodita Pande

Photos from the Internet

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Navodita Pande has been practicing yoga since she was 9 years old in Iyengar Yoga. In April 1995, she performed at the International Yoga Seminar. In January 2003, Navodita taught at Hare Rama Hare Krishna Mandir in New York. Navodita had a Yoga show on NDTV 24×7 and was also the official yoga trainer for Miss Delhi contestants in 2007. She currently teaches Yoga and Reiki to
people in Kanpur.