TRIAL BY NUMBERS
While the Congress is yet to finalise a name for its Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief, its leadership would do well to take a look at the results of the 43 local body elections that took place last week. The BJP won 25 seats, while the Congress bagged 15 and three went to Independents. But from the 15 Congress seats, at least nine came from the Mahakaushal and Chhindwara belt, where party veteran Kamal Nath holds sway. The BJP won five seats from this area. Local sources add that even the two Independents who won from here owe their allegiance to Kamal Nath. As for the Nimad Vindhya and Betul region, where Arun Yadav has a presence, the Congress could win only two of the 16 seats. Arun Yadav is the current MPCC chief and many doubt his ability to take on Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the coming Assembly elections. Another Congress stalwart, Jytoriaditya Scindia, could not manage a single seat for the Congress from his bastion, the Chambal region, where the BJP bagged both the seats that went to the polls. As for Kanti Lal Bhuria, an ex MPCC chief, the Congress could only win three of the eight seats from his area. Arguably, these are only local body elections, but the grassroots seem to be sending a strong message of their own.
BJP’S GEN-NEXT BATTLE
Although it is too early to speculate, will the next battle for the BJP be between party president Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath? Those who see Yogi as the next in the line of succession, are making a big mistake in not counting Amit Shah as a contender. Shah has made his debut in legislative politics at the national level and plans to fight the next Lok Sabha elections from Ahmedabad. If Modi comes back to power, as it appears he may well, then Shah’s graph will rise further. And both Shah and Yogi are in the same below-55 years age bracket. They have time on their side to enter the line of succession. And the only person Shah will play Number 2 is to Modi himself. Beyond that, why should he deny his own ambitions? Watch this space for more on this.
PARTING SHOT OR SOUR GRAPES?
Congress spokesperson and former Union minister Manish Tewari seems to have hit the nail where it hurts. Former Vice President Hamid Ansari’s farewell words, when he spoke of Muslims feeling insecure in India, sparked off a political debate, polarised on the expected BJP vs Congress lines. But while writing for a national newspaper, Tewari questioned the timing of the outburst, pointing out that “delivering homilies at the end of term can end up being critiqued as a case of sour grapes or a parting kick. Does it bestow glory on the high office? The jury is out on that.” As Tewari pointed out, the VP should have spoken out when Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched or at the very least gone for his burial. While Tewari is not questioning the VP’s words, he does raise some pertinent questions on the timing of Ansari’s comments.