Monday, May 18, 2009

Snippets/ Mail Today, May 18, 2009

IN THE weeks ahead, the losers of E- 2009 will sit down amongst themselves to ponder over what went wrong. Jayalalithaa and her AIADMK have no need for that. They already have found the reason. An AIADMK leader told me in all seriousness that his party fared badly because “ Madam” walked into a trap laid by the establishment. The story goes thus: the Intelligence Bureau had informed her — as well as 41 other leaders — of serious threat to her life during the campaign because of the LTTE’s last ditch offensive. Presumably, Jaya considered her life more precious than other things and so dispensed with her normal campaign style — motorcades through the villages, kissing and naming babies, giving away saris et al — and stuck to choppers for the first time ever.
The closest that anyone could get to her was about a 100 yards. She lost touch, they lost touch. And she is paying the price. Good yarn

For Didi this was just the preliminary test
THE GOOD doctor will take the oath of office for a second consecutive term sometime this week and already speculation is rife about who will get what in the new cabinet. Some of the incumbents who demanded and got plum posts five years ago are not likely to be easily accommodated. For all the good work and turnaround in the Indian Railways that he is said to have brought about, Congressmen are of the view that Lalu Prasad Yadav should forget about retaining his portfolio. At best, he should hope for a free all- India railpass for self and family in lieu of the four seats that the RJD has brought in.

Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar who held his hat in his hand, ready to throw it into the ring at the last minute, held back only on Saturday morning after reality dawned. He should prepare to bid goodbye to Krishi Bhavan and instead concentrate on the International Cricket Council, which he is due to take over as chief executive soon, the consolation being the ICC is an empire of its own. His lieutenant Praful Patel is somewhat better placed, being a Congressman at heart despite holding a NCP card. On the other side are the DMK and Trinamool members, whose swelled numbers contributed in large measure to the UPA’s victory margin. After patching up with his granduncle, Dayanidhi Maran can look forward to being back in Sanchar Bhavan and Karunanidhi can afford to pick and choose his ministers and their portfolios.

But what about Mamata? My instincts tell me she will nominate a couple of her leaders for important ministries and then choose to grind it out in the killing fields of Singur and Nandigram and elsewhere in West Bengal. She has already felled the formidable Leftists. She will not rest content until she drags their noses through the dirt and the filth that is their own making. We should all wish her Godspeed.

HOURS after it became clear that his first and last bid for prime ministership had ended disastrously, Lal Kishan Advani resigned as the party’s parliamentary leader. But many BJP leaders who owe their rapid climb up the party ladder to the genial Advani wouldn’t have it.
They termed it an offer to resign though Advani said it was “ a decision.” It’s bad enough that through their fratricidal and self destructive tendencies, they have already dispatched a man thanks to whom they enjoyed nearly a decade and a half of uninterrupted and unbridled power within the party. These are people who have benefited enormously under his tutelage, which even caused ruptures in Advani’s relationship with the cadres.

Now, citing the lack of a consensus replacement, they are asking him to stay on in the hope that that would enable them to stay on too. On Sunday, a top RSS team led by Madan Das Devi met Advani, their mission being not to persuade him to stay back but to facilitate the appointment of a successor with his blessings. Advani did not disappoint them but made it clear that his future role would be no more than that of a moral arbitrator.

It was pathetic to see various party spokesmen claiming collective responsibility but not owning up their own responsibility for the catastrophe that now threatens to turn the BJP into an endangered species. It would be worth recalling that five years ago, Pramod Mahajan, as the party’s national campaign manager, had owned up responsibility and offered to resign. Once upon a time, loyalty was said to be the BJP’s secret weapon. It has now been replaced by intrigue and faction fights. No wonder the people reject them.

Bihar next in his line of fire
COMETH THE hour, cometh the man. Rahul has achieved the near impossible in Uttar Pradesh by, first daring to go it alone and then winning more than a quarter of the seats from India’s largest state. To appreciate his achievement, one must remember that the last time the Congress touched double figures from the state in the Lok Sabha was in 1984 when it won all 85 seats. Since then, it has been one big downhill slide and the Congress even failed to win a seat once. And here they are now, with 21 Lok Sabha seats, which strangely enough is exactly the number of seats that the party has in the state assembly.

Translated into assembly segments, that would account for over 120 seats which is an impressive turnaround for a party whose candidates seemed content just not to lose their deposits. Is it any wonder then that suddenly Congressmen elsewhere are beginning to see a whisker of a chance of revival in their own states? Addressing party workers in his constituency soon after the results were out, Rahul promised them: “ Soon you will see a new Congress in Uttar Pradesh”. Mayawati had better watch out. And so should Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar, a man on whom Rahul lavished much praise before the results were out but who may not come in for such praise any longer.

I am told his next target is Bihar where the Congress won just two seats out of the 40 at stake and where he is going to be spending a lot of his time. So the next time villagers in Bihar see a handsome young man resting in a cowshed in the back of beyond in Begusarai, Darbhanga or Munger, they can be sure they are in the presence of the future prime minister of India.

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