Niyat & Vikas: BJP shorts the 2019 campaign circuit

It was the winter of 2016 when a Supreme Court bench headed by the now Chief Justice directed that the national anthem be played before films are screened in cinemas across the nation. The purpose of the order, the court said, was to instill “committed patriotism and nationalism” and “reflect love and respect for the motherland”.  That order was softened by the court in a week; by January this year the playing of the 52-second anthem was made optional for cinema owners, and an inter-ministerial panel is now examining the entire issue.

All that may be decided soon enough but the big-screen summer of 2018 has seen another pre-feature insertion bundled with the solemnity of the national anthem: short films that showcase the achievements of the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government. You could be settling down with popcorn and a fizzy drink to watch Jurassic World or even Veere di Wedding, but these ‘shorts’ will have to be seen in the darkened theatre when the doors have been closed.

These ‘shorts’ are part of the government’s fourth year celebrations; each highlights a specific initiative of the government, like Swachh Bharat or Jan Dhan Yojana, or a sectoral thrust area like agriculture or road-building. All are available on https://48months.mygov.in/, a part of mygov.in, a website launched by the government in July 2014 to engage with citizens.


Setting the Stage
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mB8ThHmY-DI  
 

About a minute long each, these are slickly made, with production values far better than is usual in the standard chest-thumping of Indian politics. Modi is the thread that ties all together, appearing in each as the spearhead of all good things coming our nation’s way.

The headline is the same across shorts: Saaf Niyat, Sahi Vikas. This is the slogan the Bharatiya Janata Party has settled on to ride into the battle of 2019.

It sounds pretty tame at first, but it may just turn the trick that ‘India Shining’ of 2004 could not. The slogan starts with a subliminal anti-Congress message, encapsulating in two words the anti-corruption theme of the BJP’s 2014 campaign. Saaf Niyat: Clean Intent.

Sahi Vikas—Right Development— follows, like an unfinished story, more a continuum of a higher duty than the preceding terse statement of intent, but complementing it like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle.

The message common to every short: What couldn’t be done in decades has been achieved in four years. As the year rolls by, this will have been drilled and drilled and drilled yet again into India’s crores of cinema-going heads.

Saaf Niyat, Sahi Vikas may not have the gale force of Indira Gandhi’s punchy and catchy ‘Garibi Hatao’ of 1980, but it does make the BJP’s ‘Achhe Din’ of 2014 a similarly distant memory. It turns the page.

On the negative side, it’s reminiscent of the ‘India Shining’ that put the BJP down for the count in the big surprise of 2004. And spookily so. The economy was spooling into higher gear then, India had gone nuclear, and then sorted out Pakistan in a short but vicious war. But the BJP lost.

In any case, the BJP is off the blocks with a well-crafted message of development and promise of more to come. The Opposition’s order of battle will be in place only when battle is joined; their message till then can only be ‘Oust Modi’.

Built into all this is the possibility of general elections being called early, this winter, with due state elections in BJP-held Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Congress-held Mizoram added to the mix. Then, there’s buzz of the Kejriwal-BJP war endgaming into a climactic dismissal of the Delhi government soon, and recent events in the Capital only strengthen such speculation. On Tuesday, Jammu and Kashmir was added as a possibility as the BJP broke up with its coalition partner, the Peoples Democratic Party.

Saaf Niyat may turn out to be highly miscible with the BJP’s desire to hold simultaneous national and state elections after all. And that would be Sahi Vikas as far as the ruling NDA is concerned.

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Not going to be easy for the BJP henceforth

With Himachal won and Gujarat retained, the Bharatiya Janata Party now runs the show in 19 states. Himachal Pradesh was in the BJP bag to begin with, and the relative lack of interest shown by both the incumbent Congress and challenger BJP in the Himalayan state’s election campaign proved it, as did the general lack of surprise at the result. Gujarat is where the action was, a sort of quarter-final before the semis of 2018 that will feature the major states of Congress-ruled Karnataka first, and BJP bastions of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan later. Lokmarg looks at the Gujarat result and the next big contests: Gujarat: It’s not easy for Modi from here Gujarat has 26 Lok Sabha seats; a simplistic and gung-ho conversion by the BJP had set the party a 150-seat target in the state’s 182-member House. It was Gujarat’s first state election after Narendra Modi became prime minister, and in that sense a referendum on his performance by the people who propelled him up in the first place.  It was also, like Uttar Pradesh earlier this year, a verdict on the demonetisation exercise of 2016 and the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax. The Congress has ended up with a very respectable 80 seats while the BJP has slipped to 99. The scary part for the BJP is that 27 of the seats featured winning margins of less than 2,000 votes. A mild swing in these seats would have given a mirror image result in favour of the Congress, and that’s how close it was. Voteshare figures, despite being skewed across regions, also show the Congress catching up. What’s worked for the Congress is its alliances with caste groups and the new-found love of temples new president Rahul Gandhi has displayed. It is also significant that the Gujarat result is despite the near absence of Congress organisational structures at the grassroots level across the state in contrast with the BJP’s well-oiled machinery. In the earlier part of the campaign, the Congress questioned the development plank the BJP was selling, and that seems to have partly worked too. The rural vote has been largely for the Congress while the cities and towns have gone with the BJP. A tentative conclusion is that demonetisation and GST aren’t gamechangers in the business centres, like the Surat region that went entirely with the BJP. The flip side is the agrarian distress produced by the trickle-down model of business facilitation that the BJP so aggressively pushes in tandem with the usual socialist government schemes. Exclusion from the pie of slowing growth is manifesting itself in caste terms, and the Congress has picked on it already. Bottomline: The Congress is set to work harder on shedding the rather sticky pro-minority tag it acquired in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Expect more soft Hindutva from the new president. Emboldened by Gujarat, the Congress is likely to build alliances with disaffected caste groups across the nation, like the Reddys of Andhra or the Jats of Haryana. It will also continue to hammer at the development model that the BJP leans on every time. It’s going to get tougher for the BJP from here. Karnataka: The next big one Elections are due in Karnataka in April-May 2018. They will be preceded by early summer elections in three states of the North-East: Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura. The North-East is the BJP’s targeted growth area after the four southern states, and it rules in three states of the region—Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur— already. In Nagaland, the BJP has a comfortable ally in the ruling Naga People’s Front; the resulting Democratic Alliance of Nagaland has ruled the state since 2003. The state is 90% Christian and almost wholly tribal, so the BJP should be likely to hang on to coat-tails of the NPF and hope the peace accord it signed with the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (I-M) in 2015 gives it some traction of its own. In largely Christian Meghalaya, Mukul Sangma heads a Congress government. The BJP took one seat in the last elections but has it hopes up after winning six of the seven Assembly segments in Shillong—one of the two Lok Sabha constituencies of the state—in the 2014 general elections. It’s uphill for the BJP, but there could well be a significant saffron showing here. Tripura is the only Indian state where the communists are in power under the widely acknowledged leadership of Manik Sarkar who will be seeking a Modi-beating fifth consecutive term as chief minister. Having only lost elections for two decades, the state unit of the Congress is at odds and ends. Mamata’s Trinamool is a new player but the BJP fancies its chances in Tripura, Amit Shah making Agartala one of his important outposts in the region. Karnataka, with its huge 224-seat House and 28 Lok Sabha constituencies, is where it gets interesting. It is the only southern state where the BJP has had a government of its own, and thus a support base and local party structures that are considered strong enough in the north and coastal parts of the state. A rainbow of castes and communities, Karnataka’s electorate is always seen in terms of caste combinations. The BJP’s chief minister of choice is BS Yeddyurappa, the man who made a mess of the job his last time, leaving as his Karnataka legacy the memories of chief ministers being changed, scams and scandals. Yeddy is a Lingayat, a powerful community that seeks recognition as a non-Hindu grouping. He has been cultivating the depressed castes with great energy for months now via statewide yatras. The Congress has named serving Chief Minister Siddaramiah as the man they will continue with. Siddaramiah is from a backward caste and has stitched up, probably better than Yeddy, a combination of backward castes and Muslims. Besides, he led the party to victory in two Assembly bypolls soon after the crushing BJP victory in Uttar Pradesh earlier this year. Gujarat is very different from Karnataka but the Congress showing in the western state will be a booster shot for the dole-friendly ruling party. What about Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan? Along with the BJP-dominated tribal hinterland of Chhattisgarh and the North-East state of Mizoram, these two saffron biggies will be headed into elections at the end of 2018. Karnataka will, of course, set the tone but there’s a larger issue at play here. The General Elections of 2019 will be around the corner, and the BJP— that makes it a virtue to prefer simultaneous state and general elections— is more than likely to club them with the big one of the coming summer. It is as likely that the General Elections may be brought forward by a couple of months to avoid an endlessly long election season through the Winter and Budget sessions of Parliament, and for the politically expediency of not setting up a big semi-final right before the national contest. A BJP loss in Karnataka, a real possibility, will turn the likelihood of early general elections into a certainty. A victory will give the party momentum it will not want to lose over the months till the general election. Bottomline: The BJP will put all its got into the Karnataka elections while attempting to continue growth in the North-East but is likely to announce the clubbing of year-end elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram with brought-forward general elections. The Congress must retain Karnataka if it is to put up a fight for the next Lok Sabha. Rahul will have had a few months till then as president. Gujarat was the hop, and Karnataka will be the skip before the big jump of 2019.   // ]]>

Rahul is sole candidate for Congress president's post

Compassion, humility & determination are just a few qualities that make Rahul Gandhi an ideal #CongressPresident and leader. Today, we recall what he stands for on issues close to his heart. #IndiaWithRahulGandhi pic.twitter.com/QTlBJ05DUT

— Congress (@INCIndia) December 4, 2017 The 47-year-old Gandhi, who will be the sixth Nehru-Gandhi scion to helm the party, filed papers at the Congress headquarters here amid cheers and celebrations by party leaders and workers. His mother and incumbent party President Sonia Gandhi signed the first nomination paper for election of her son. He has been party Vice President for over four years since 2013. Among the proposers of 89 nominations — all in support of Gandhi — was former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who called Rahul Gandhi the “darling” of the party. Manmohan Singh accompanied Gandhi when he filed the nomination paper. The last date for withdrawal is December 11 when he may be declared elected since there is no contest. Scrutiny of the nomination will take place on Tuesday. “Eighty-nine nominations from various states were submitted to the returning officer. Prominent Congress leaders filed nominations (on behalf of Gandhi) including the former Prime Minister, Congress Working Committee members, MPs, state Congress leaders,” Returning Officer Mullapally Ramachandran told reporters. Though Ramachandran did not divulge details, sources said all the nominations were in favour of “one candidate” — obviously Gandhi. Originally 90 nomination forms were issued but one could not be filed as there were not enough number of proposers.
Read at Lokmarg
Generational change, challenges await Congress

However, the filing of nomination was not without controversy stoked by remarks of senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar who invoked the Mughal dynasty in the Congress Presidential election that Prime Minister Narendra Modi latched on to quickly to call it “Aurangzeb Raj”. “When Shah Jahan came in the place of Jahangir did any election happen? And when Aurangzeb came in place of Shah Jahan did any election happen? It was known to everyone that the throne of the king will automatically go to the heir,” Aiyar said, retorting to the “dynasty” jibes of the BJP on Rahul Gandhi’s election. “But in a democracy elections are held. I openly invite (Shehzad) Poonawala to file the nomination and contest,” Aiyar said, adding no one had earlier heard of Poonawala. Aiyar was replying to a question about BJP’s criticism following Maharashtra Congress leader Poonawala alleging that election for Congress President was a sham and Rahul Gandhi’s elevation was rigged. Modi was quick to pounce on Aiyar’s remarks. Addressing an election rally in Gujarat, Modi said: “Aiyar, who never shies away from showing loyalty to one family, proudly said — When Shah Jahan came in the place of Jahangir did any elections happen? And when Aurangzeb came in place of Shah Jahan did any election happen? “It was known to everyone that the throne of the king will automatically go the son. I congratulate the Congress on their ‘Aurangzeb Raj.’ For us, the wellbeing of the people matters and 125 crore Indians are our high command,” he said. The Prime Minister also said that the Congress leaders admit that it is not a party but a “kunba” (family). Modi at a poll rally in Gujarat on Sunday lauded Poonawala for exposing lack of internal democracy in the Congress. “Those who have no internal democracy can’t work for people. I want to say to this youngster Shehzad – you have done a brave thing but this is sadly what has always happened in Congress.” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said Modi was “suffering from Rahul Gandhi phobia”. Surjewala also said that Modi’s “love for Shehzad, Shahzada (BJP chief Amit Shah’s son Jai Shah) and Shourya (National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s son)” is well known to the world. “But will Modiji tell when he will answer the questions of his own senior party leaders like Arun Shourie, Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha?” he asked. Gandhi, who became the Congress Vice President in January 2013, will succeed his mother Sonia, the longest serving Congress chief who has helmed the party since 1998. He is the sixth in the Gandhi-Nehru family to head the party after his great great grandfather Motilal Nehru, great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, grandmother Indira Gandhi and father Rajiv Gandhi. Hundreds of Congress workers and leaders from across the country supporters thronged the party office ahead of the filing of nominations. A large crowd of party workers were seen requesting the guards for a chance to meet their leader as he made his much awaited move. Earlier, Gandhi called on former President Pranab Mukherjee, who applied tilak mark on his head as a way of blessing. On his elevation, Manmohan Singh said: “Rahul Gandhi is a darling of the Congress and he will carry forward the great traditions of the party.” Noting that Sonia Gandhi served as Congress President for over 19 years, Manmohan Singh said: “It will be yet another chapter for the party.” Among those who signed the various sets of nomination papers for Gandhi were Motilal Vora, Ahmed Patel, Tarun Gogoi, V.Narayansami, Ashok Gehlot, Kamal Nath, Anand Sharma, Jaipal Reddy, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Salman Khursheed, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and Karan Singh.

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  (Reproduced tweets do not reflect Lokmarg editorial policy)
(IANS) // ]]>

Gujarat Archbishop warns of 'nationalist' takeover

Cautioning that nationalist forces, or narrow-minded people, were on the verge of taking over the country, Gandhinagar Archbishop Thomas Macwan has asked Bishops across the country to hold prayers for victory of such persons in the Gujarat elections who remain faithful to the Constitution. As for his take on “nationalist forces”, he said he was only referring to persons who are narrow-minded on the issue of nationalism. The elections to the 182-member Gujarat assembly would be held on December 9 and 14. Results will be declared on December 18, along with those of Himachal assembly. In his letter to the Bishops, Macwan wrote: “The Gujarat election results are significant and will influence the future course of our country. The secular and democratic fabric of our country is at stake. Human rights are violated and constitutional rights trampled upon. “There is a growing sense of insecurity among the (religious) minorities, Other Backward Castes, Scheduled Castes and the poor. The nationalist forces are on the verge of taking over the country. “The Bishops of Gujarat request you to organise prayer services in your respective perishes and convents so that we may have such people elected in the Gujarat assembly who would remain faithful to the Indian Constitution and respect every human being without any sort of discrimination.” When contacted on Thursday, Macwan told IANS: “By so-called nationalist forces, I just referred to all those who are narrow-minded in their thinking about nationalism. They are narrow-minded in terms of language, caste, creed, religion, and financial status. And that’s why I have written that letter. There is no controversy whatsoever. I have asked the Bishops to pray for the country’s betterment, that’s all.”

(IANS) // ]]>

It's official: Hardik comes out to support Congress

 Patidar leader Hardik Patel on Wednesday announced his support to the Congress in the Gujarat Assembly election after it reached an understanding with him by promising job quotas to the agitating Patel community if it comes to power.

Hardik Patel made the much-awaited announcement on behalf of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) at a crowded press conference here and said the PAAS was formally accepting the “workable formula” advanced by the Congress. “The Congress has accepted our demand for reservations with a formula that provides for benefits equivalent to OBCs constitutionally, without disturbing the present 49 per cent quota for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs,” Patel said. “We are accepting the formula given to us by the Congress party.” Neither Patil nor Congress gave out details of the understanding reached on the reservation formula. Senior Congress leader and former union minister Kapil Sibal, who had held discussions with Patel and other PAAS leades, said Hardik Patel would reveal the details of the formula at an appropriate time. Sibal merely said that his party’s suggestions on providing quotas to Patidars in poll-bound Gujarat was “as per the Constitution”. Mutual deception, says Jaitley But Finance Minister and BJP leader Arun Jaitley mocked the agreement calling it an exercise at “deception of each other”. “From the statements that I have seen so far, the Congress-Hardik club is one of mutual deception. The law of the land is very clear and that is laid down by the Supreme Court and only last week in the Rajasthan case it has been reaffirmed that the 50 per cent cap cannot be breached. “They can continue to mutually deceive each other and deceive the public by saying that we will devise a methodology by breaching the cap. Legally and constitutionally it is not possible as the law stands today,” he said. Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel lashed out at Hardik Patel for accepting the Congress formula on job quotas and supporting it in the Assembly polls, calling him a “fool”. “Fools have given a formula and fools have accepted it,” a fuming Nitin Patel said. “I have not seen a more foolish person than Hardik. He is young boy. He may have got some love from the community but they are going to perish soon.” ‘I am nobody’s agent’ Flanked by other leaders of the PAAS, which has been campaigning for job quotas for the Patels, Hardik Patel brushed aside allegations by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that he was “a Congress agent”. “The Congress has accepted our demands though it is in opposition and has promised to even include it in its manifesto,” he said. “In this situation, when the BJP tortured our youth and slapped false cases, including those of sedition, there is nothing wrong in supporting the Congress. “Let the BJP call me a Congress agent. I am nobody’s agent, except that of the people. The BJP doesn’t have a land title to Gujarat, six crore people own the state.” Hardik Patel said the Congress had said that if it won the Gujarat elections, it would pass a proposal for reservations under Articles 31-C and 46 of the Constitution. He insisted that the Constitution nowhere said more than 50 per cent reservations could not be given. “The Supreme Court has only given suggestions on this. There is neither any law nor provision in the Constitution.” He said a new Gujarat government would talk to all the stakeholders and set up a separate Commission. “The Congress has promised that a survey would be carried out within Patel or any other forward community as per the provisions of the OBC Commission and on this basis parameters of economic, social, educational or employment would be used to extend reservation benefits to Patels and other forward communities,” Patel said. He claimed that since 1994, many states, including Gujarat, had given quotas beyond 50 per cent and in states as Tamil Nadu and Karnataka such reservation had been in existence for 15 to 17 years. Patel said he was accepting the formula not just on behalf of PAAS but after speaking to several community leaders and key religious organisations – Khodaldham and Umiyadham. However, heads of both these bodies denied having received any details about the Congress formula. (IANS) // ]]>

Prince of all he surveys: Rahul is party leader

The Congress on Saturday formally announced Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to the post of party president. The 47-year-old won the contest unopposed; he steps into his mother Sonia Gandhi’s shoes. Rahul’s coronation comes in the middle of an electoral conflict with the all-winning BJP. The results of the Gujarat and Himachal elections will be known on Monday and will set the tone for Rahul’s leadership of the Congress into the state elections of 2018 and the Lok Sabha contest of 2019. Party president Rahul has embarked on an all-new journey. Here’s the Lokmarg report on the story so far.  

Prince of all he surveys

Thirteen years after his jump into politics, Rahul Gandhi appears ready to take on the Gabbar Singhs of the world, including taxes. With Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s slow-paced withdrawal of recent years from her once active role at the head of India’s oldest political outfit no other time could have been better.

Early Years

Born in 1970, Rahul was almost 34 when he announced his candidature for a Lok Sabha seat in the May 2004 elections. It had been a rather cloistered childhood, passing through Delhi’s St. Columba’s School and then The Doon School. He would have stayed there till at least 1989 but for the assassination of his grandmother Indira Gandhi in October 1984, five months after she ordered the army into the Golden Temple as the first step of her war on Sikh extremism. His father, Rajiv Gandhi, quit his regular job as an airline pilot and his relatively low-profile life to become prime minister. A picture of the young Rahul at his grandmother’s funeral pyre was the first time all of India got to see him; bespectacled, in a white kurta, Rahul reminded many of the iconic Stan Stearns photograph of three-year-old John saluting his father JFK’s casket during the US president’s funeral in 1963. Homeschooling it was then, till 1989, the year his prime minister father Rajiv Gandhi lost a general election to one of his own—VP Singh— when Rahul Gandhi became a student of Delhi’s St. Stephen’s College. He was admitted because he was good at shooting, but the naysayers would not let go. It is, however, a little-known fact about Rahul—he is a rather good shot with a firearm, and practices regularly. The Delhi college stint didn’t last. But as Rahul moved to Harvard, a second assassination changed things again for the Gandhi family. Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber during the campaign for the 1991 elections. Rahul moved to a Florida college—under an assumed name for security reasons—and then to Cambridge, completing a masters degree and picking up a job with a consulting  firm in London before starting a BPO company in Mumbai.

The Plunge

It was the worst of times to take to his family’s calling. The BJP-led NDA had tested nukes, won a war with Pakistan, the economy was looking up after almost a decade of structural reforms punctuated by political uncertainties, and all the pundits saw the lotus shining its way back into government in the 2004 elections. The fear of losing, even from the family’s nurtured constituency of Amethi was pretty real when Rahul announced his jump to the front ranks of the political battle being joined across the nation. It was a surprise; everybody expected Indira-lookalike Priyanka to be the one. Rahul won, and by a very healthy margin. His mother Sonia, Congress president since 1988 shifted to the adjacent constituency of Rae Bareli. She won too, as the Congress defied opinion polls and assorted punditry to win the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. In 2006, Sonia Gandhi struck back at her opponents who were baying for blood over her holding an office(s) of profit along with her Lok Sabha seat by resigning from everything she was part of. The bypoll from Rae Bareli saw Sonia return with a near-400,000 vote margin. The campaign was managed by Rahul and Priyanka. Rahul continued to star on the campaign trail, leading his party into the 2007 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. In the see-saw journey that Rahul’s political career has been, it was a loss: the Congress didn’t even get a tenth of the vote.

The party leader

Two years before the next general elections, Rahul Gandhi was appointed general secretary with charge of the party’s youth wing and its student organisation. He did a Rajiv then, making it known that he was out to refresh the organisation: young blood in and old powerbrokers out. Rahul’s energy ensured that the membership of the youth and student wings went up by many times but the stranglehold of the old powerbrokers remained. The 2009 elections—which the Congress won largely because of economic performance and strategic sops at the end of the term— saw Rahul campaign vigorously, with special focus on Uttar Pradesh. Again, up followed down, and Rahul was credited with the Congress revival in India’s most populous state as the party took 21 of the 80 seats. The next big step was inevitably down, as the Rahul-led Congress floundered in the Uttar Pradesh elections of 2012. The party got only 28 seats in the 403-seat state Assembly. It seemed like the end of the road; Rahul stayed away from the Gujarat election campaign later that year. An implacable foe was rising in the West and it seemed the Congress prince was afraid of taking on Narendra Modi. By the 2014 General Elections, Sonia Gandhi had more or less stepped aside though she remained party leader. Rahul, made a party vice-president the previous year, led the party against Modi’s juggernaut campaign. The Congress lost big-time, its worst performance ever not even giving it enough seats to stake claim to the position of Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. The Hindi belt went almost entirely to Modi in a steroidal replay of the post-Emergency elections of 1977 that had wiped out Indira Gandhi. Modi’s party now talks of a Congress-free India, and has been working with manic diligence to win every election after its 2014 triumph.

Looking ahead

Rahul has charisma; that comes naturally to the Gandhi family. He doesn’t have the intellect of Nehru, or Indira’s iron will, or Rajiv’s easygoing sagacity, but he is a Gandhi from India’s first family of politics. Rahul has age on his side. Modi was all of 51 when he first became Gujarat chief minister and has had to fight every inch of the way, his own party included. The younger Rahul has a direct shot at being prime minister less than two years from now. The old guard of the Congress has faded away; only a few veterans are left in the party hierarchy now. Rahul may well get the clean slate he’s wanted, and he won’t have to wait too long. The new leadership of the party remains committed to the Gandhis, and Rahul won’t have to look over his shoulder too often. All he’s got to do is vanquish Modi, but that’s a tall order indeed. The Gujarat and Himachal state elections, plus next year’s big ones, could reveal the chinks in the saffron armour. A little will be known by the new year, and the biggest battle is to be joined a year or so after, possibly even in 2018.
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Chidambaram busts 'distorted' Gujarat model

Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Sunday attacked the BJP on Gujarat’s development model, saying that as a result of a distorted concept of development, many sections of the people were left behind and the state has regressed in the last 22 years.

Here’s the Chidamabaram critique, tweet by tweet   He targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his extravagant promise to bring development to the Centre, create two crore jobs every year, bring back black money stashed abroad and put Rs 15 lakh in the bank account of every Indian during 2014’s general election. “Obviously, none of the extravagant promises could be fulfilled. Hence, the all-round sense of disappointment after 42 months… A similar sense of disappointment prevails in Gujarat which goes to election in December.”
Read at Lokmarg

(with IANS) // ]]>

Hardik Patel sex tape rocks poll-bound Gujarat

Read at Lokmarg
Congress in a quandary over Hardik sex tapes

His supporters claimed the video was morphed. Patel said it was a conspiracy against him by the ruling BJP, which was “known to be adept at this”. He pointed out that sometime ago, BJP insiders floated such a video of one of their own leaders Sanjay Joshi.

The Sanjay Joshi echo

Sanjay Joshi is a BJP member from Gujarat, and was the rising star from that state until a sex CD that purported to feature him surfaced in 2005, and he was removed from all party posts. The CD is believed to be have been doctored. Joshi’s feud with Prime Minister Modi is the stuff of political legend. The prime minister and Joshi have been at odds since the Shankersinh Vaghela revolt of 1995 when Keshubhai Patel was dethroned as chief minister and Modi banished from Gujarat by the party. Patel made a comeback in the 1998 elections; he was succeeded by Modi in 2001. Joshi stayed out in the cold. Joshi was reinstated in the party’s national executive in 2011; the next year saw his removal from the post again, a move widely reported to be at Modi’s behest.

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(IANS) // ]]>