The UPA which is rapidly losing its alliance partners, Trinamul, DMK is now trying desperately to woo the NDA partners. The government is going all way out to lure the Janata Dal (united) to its fold. After the Finance Minister, P Chidambaram assured that the Centre would pump fund into the Bihar chief minister, Nitish Kumar’s pet project Nalanda University, now the UPA is considering to give Bihar the “backward” status. The BJP leader, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, however, said that “in Bihar, there is a strong BJP-JD(U) government. We are preparing for the Lok Sabha elections… Irrespective of what the Central government thinks, Bihar deserves (financial) support and it should not be based on politics.”
The home minister, Sushilkumar Shinde is now getting famous for his foot in mouth disease. In January, 2013 at the Congress’s Jaipur Chintan Shivir, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde accused the main Opposition party BJP and the RSS, a volunteer organisation of conducting ‘training camps’ to spread what he called ‘saffron terrorism’ in the country. Later he was forced to retract. In December 2012, Sushilkumar Shinde announced that a decision on the Telangana stalemate would be taken within a month. This put the Government in a tough position. He went on to brand those protesting against the Delhi rape as “Maoists.” The Home Minister was replying to a debate on the Assam violence when Jaya Bachchan said that the minister was not responding to specific questions raised by members. This is when Shinde snubbed her by saying, “This is a serious matter. This is not the subject of a film.” The minister was forced to apologise for his remarks. In September, 2012 after the controversy over the coal block allotment Sushilkumar Shinde said, “Such controversies come and go. Earlier, there was the controversy regarding Bofors, but it faded away. No one remembers the petrol pump allotment issue today. The statement was highly embarrassing for the Congress party which was surrounded by scams on all sides like the 2G, Coal, Adarsh and CWG scams. Sushilkumar Shinde in December 2012 during his Parliamentary address called 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed with the honourable addresses of ‘Shri’ and ‘Mr’. In March 2013, Shinde caused an outrage in the Parliament as a written statement issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs mentioned the name of the three victims of the Bandhara rape and murder. However, Shinde later retracted the statement and said, “I have withdrawn my statement. Even the Rajya Sabha Deputy Speaker has expunged the statement. I have also asked the secretary to inquire into this matter. Please let the matter rest now.” And now after the consent age for sex has been retained at 18, Shinde suddenly said that he had cited the 153-year-old IPC to defend his proposal for lowering the consent age for sex to 16 years. Something is wrong somewhere with Shinde, who is handling such a sensitive ministry.
The Congress is seemed to become a party of confused leaders. While on one hand the party’s icon, Rahul Gandhi says that he is not interested to become Prime Minister, his loyalists start claiming that he has never said anything like this. Congress leader and Rahul’s friend Digvijay Singh cautioned against the view that Rahul Gandhi is not interested to be the Prime Minister. Singh said, “ Rahul Gandhi has not said no anywhere. What is being reported in the press has caused some misconception. If the people of the country want, then why won’t he be the Congress’ candidate for PM?” Rahul Gandhi had earlier said that his focus was to build his party, not to be Prime Minister. Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh points out that this in no way means that Rahul Gandhi has said no to being PM. Digvijay Singh, who has virtually lost all his popularity in his home State, Madhya Pradesh has emerged as Rahul’s mouthpiece. This is also Congress attempt to show that Rahul is not interesed to be the PM and but what can he do if the people want. And Digvijay’s people of course is confined to the band of Congress leaders and functionaries.
Rahul fails in Tripura too
After failing to oust the Left from Tripura, Rahul Gandhi has again embarked on mission UP. Of course the
Congress’ mascot has forgotten the drubbing his party got after he and his entire family campaigned in the State during the last Assembly polls. Rahul Gandhi is now all set to hit the political trail in Uttar Pradesh after the budget session, a move that may resume hostilities with Samajwadi Party even as chief minister Akhilesh Yadav threatened to pull the plug on UPA next month. However, the SP is not at all worried about his campaign. “More he campaigns, more Congress will lose ground,” an SP leader said.
Trinamul in demand
A section of the UPA managers are now trying to woo the Trinamul Congress supremo, Mamata Banerjee to return to its fold. Feelers were being sent to “Didi” from the top Congress quarters. There were rumours that union minister, Kamal Nath had recently spoken to Ms Banerjee and urged her to consider the option of returning to UPA. Some feel a majority section of the Trinamul leaders are also in favour of Mamata returning to UPA. There are also indications that Trinamul could again join hands with the Congress during the 2014 general elections.