THIRD FRONT, YET AGAIN
It seems as if Rohith Vemula’s suicide was not just limited to Parliament, with the Opposition uniting to take on the government, especially in the Rajya Sabha. Apparently, Sitaram Yechury, Nitish Kumar and Arvind Kejriwal have requested legal luminary Ram Jethmalani to represent Kanhaiya. Clearly, this is a coalition that is slowly firming up to take on the government, as was apparent from the Bihar CM’s swearing in guest list when Kejriwal risked a photo-op with the controversial Lalu Yadav to show solidarity with Nitish Kumar. What is, however, interesting is the absence of a Congress face behind this little venture. Are we seeing the revival of yet another anti-BJP, anti-Congress front?
DECODING RAHUL’S SILENCE
Although Rahul Gandhi told reporters before the debate on JNU and Rohith’s suicide that he wanted to speak on the issue but feared that the Treasury Benches would not let him speak, it is curious that he was not amongst the list of Congress speakers who spoke that day. Rather, it was Jyotiraditya Scindia who led the Congress attack, and while his good pal Rahul Gandhi was there to cheer, many are asking why Rahul didn’t lead? Congress sources say that Rahul would instead be speaking on the reply to the President’s address. But considering that it was he personally who was the target of most of the government’s speeches, from Smiriti Irani to Anurag Thakur, it is curious as to why he didn’t speak.
MIXED RESPONSE TO SMRITI IRANI
While the HRD Minister swept the Lok Sabha with her fiery speech in defence of the government on JNU and Rohith Vemula’s suicide, with even the PM endorsing her speech in a tweet; the response was not as enthusiastic in the Rajya Sabha, where Anand Sharma, Sitaram Yechury and Mayawati stalled and took away some of her thunder. Interestingly, those who saw Irani being pitched against Mayawati as a curtain raiser for the UP polls (where it was speculated that Irani would be the BJP’s CM face), had to rethink that strategy, for, in the end, it was Mayawati who had the last word. Earlier, at the beginning of the debate, Irani had pronounced that if the BSP leader would not be happy with her response, she was ready to “behead” herself and lay her head at Mayawati’s feet. At the end of the debate, Mayawati pronounced that she was not satisfied with the minister’s response, and was Irani now ready to cut off her head. Oh dear.
RAJYA SABHA VS LOK SABHA
There is some glee in the House of Elders (in the Congress camp) that while their colleagues in the Lok Sabha could not stop the Smirti Irani tirade, they were much more successful in stalling the minister in the Rajya Sabha. In very general terms, the Lok Sabha is seen as Rahul’s turf where he leads with his team of “young” MPs, while the Rajya Sabha has more seasoned Congressmen loosely termed as the Old Guard. Clearly, the message here is for Rahul not to discount the elders—and more experienced—voices.