Monday, November 2, 2009

Snippets / Mail Today, November 02, 2009

BJP satraps foil RSS effort to organise succession DEATH and defeat brings the family together to commiserate. But in the badly bruised BJP parivar, yet another electoral rout has merely added fuel to the fire that is raging within the party — the battle to grab the leftover assets of that once promising party. Anywhere else, such a downward spiral would have resulted in a purge of the top leadership. In the BJP though, cleanup operations have been put on hold.

Last week Mohanrao Bhagwat had a two hour meeting with LK Advani over lunch. The RSS chief’s mission was to settle the issue of transfer of power in the party. An earlier schedule for the “ smooth transition” fed to the media by various factions had Advani quitting as leader of the opposition after he turns 82 on November 8, following which the process of replacing Rajnath Singh as party president was to be put on fast track. But it appears now that nothing of the sort will happen.

The RSS has already ruled out four Ashoka Road backroom operators who had eyes on these posts and I gather that the cabal that reigns at 11 Ashoka Road plans to hang on by hook or crook. They want the order of the changes reversed so that a new party chief is put in place first. Effectively, what this boils down to is that if the RSS puts its own man as party chief, they would persuade Advani to stay on as leader of opposition so that their rule by proxy continues. That's scandalous since the same set of leaders who brought the party to this sorry pass would continue to reign.

Ironically, many of these leaders owe their current standing in the party to the RSS and it is for the first time that they are waging an ideological war with their mentor.

It remains to be seen if the RSS which is suddenly on an reformative mode will let this set of leaders defy its diktat. Experience tells us that those who tried to derail the RSS from its course have themselves been derailed. We shall wait and watch.

IT MAY be just a coincidence but on the 25th anniversary of Indira Gandhi's assassination, are we witnessing a revival of Sikh extremism in Punjab? Of late, large numbers of youth were seen distributing posters of Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale across the state and the police also claimed to have busted a module whose aim was to kill deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. The Congress party is making all the right noises and taunting the BJP to force the police to order a crackdown on the so called extremist elements.

The Intelligence Bureau has of late sent several signals to the state government about the increasing role of the ISI to revive Sikh extremism through organisations operating from abroad. The Intelligence Bureau says the flow of funds from overseas has shown an alarming increase. By keeping up the pressure, the Congress hopes to kill two birds with one stone. It wants to widen the rift between the Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP while at the same time weaning away youth from the Akalis. The state government has so far been dismissive about the warnings and refused to order large scale arrests. But judging by the BJP's pathetic plight, the self styled champions of national security may fall in the trap laid by the Congress.

Cong rides roughshod over allies
WITH each new election victory, the arrogance of the ruling Congress grows, but now it seems to be spiraling out of control. Its latest victim is Mamata Banerjee who is livid after the Centre rejected her demand that the army be deployed in Lalgarh to tackle the Maoists. Those who have allied with her in the past know that hell hath no fury like a Mamata scorned. But the Congress has no such worries and there is clearly a design in the manner it treats her. That Mamata wants to become the next West Bengal chief minister is no secret and it now appears that the Congress will go to any extent to scuttle her plans.

This seems to be a rerun of its relations with other powerful allies like the NCP and the DMK in recent weeks. Far from accepting Sharad Pawar’s role in the Congress- NCP alliance’s remarkable victory, the Congress is still haggling over portfolios leaving the formation of the new government in a limbo. It now wants the home and finance portfolios held by the NCP in the last government, so that it can threaten the partner when the opportunity arises.

That’s precisely what it did last week when it ordered the CBI to raid the offices of the Telecom ministry headed by the DMK’s A Raja. The big partners in the UPA like the NCP, DMK and Trinamool want to know why the UPA coordination committee doesn’t meet at all though Sonia Gandhi continues to head it. If the Congress carries on with such brinkmanship, don’t be surprised if the big partners form a bloc within the alliance. More parties may then be prompted to join. Farooq Abdullah’s National Congress and Samajawadi Party, the latter not in the government but a party whose 23 MPs are crucial to the government’s survival.

Between them, these parties have about 75 MPs and should they begin to flex muscles, the UPA which technically is in a minority — it’s strength is 263, nine short of a simple majority — could be in trouble.

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