Tewari will get media cell, Surjewala Haryana
Manish Tewari will get charge of the media cell of the AICC, while incumbent Randeep Singh Surjewala will take over as Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee chief in the near future. A change in Haryana has become necessary after the intense infighting between the camps of former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and the current PCC chief, Ashok Tanwar. At Rahul Gandhi’s recent farmers’ rally in the national capital, the infighting descended to fisticuffs, during which Tanwar got injured. Rahul apparently called a meeting of both factions but failed to broker peace. The only solution now is to act against at least one of them. So Tanwar is getting the axe, as taking action against Hooda would have alienated the Jats. The Jats have completely turned against the BJP, since Manohar Lal Khattar, a non Jat, has been made Chief Minister.
With Om Prakash Chautala in jail, the Congress expects Hooda to bring the Jats back to its fold. Even Randeep Surjewala is a Jat and is close to both Rahul and Hooda. But then he is also being groomed as a Chief Ministerial candidate, which may not be acceptable to Hooda. As for Manish Tewari, he was made the Union I&B Minister because he was good spokesperson. He got isolated for the last two years, but has made a comeback because of V. George and P. Chidambaram. He also enjoys the support of Ahmad Patel and Janardan Dwivedi.
N.D. Tiwari isolated
The Congress has isolated its senior most and tallest Brahmin leader, Narayan Dutt Tiwari, even as it woos the Brahmin community ahead of the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand Assembly elections. Rahul Gandhi went to Tamil Nadu to meet J. Jayalalithaa, but did not visit the ailing Tiwari, who turned 93 this week. This has not gone down well with the Brahmins. Tiwari’s son Rohit has been asking for a Congress ticket in the Assembly elections, but the party high command has not responded to him. In fact, the BJP has started sending feelers to him by promising him a ticket.
Rawat wants Upadhyaya dethroned
Infighting in the Uttarakhand unit of the Congress has intensified after Pradesh Congress Committee chief Kishore Upadhyaya has asked for an Assembly election ticket from Sahaspur in Dehradun. Rahul Gandhi summoned both Chief Minister Harish Rawat and Upadhyaya for a meeting, but the latter failed to turn up as he was unwell. The high command has kept the matter on hold, even as Rawat is pushing for the removal of Upadhyaya from the post of PCC chief. Rawat, meanwhile, is busy promoting his family members by asking for elections tickets for them. He wants tickets to the seats of Khatima and Kaladhungi for his two sons, Laldhang for his daughter and Kashipur for a relative. Since all these four seats are minority dominated, the Congress is likely to win them. His daughter is already an office bearer in the Mahila Congress. Rawat’s brother-in-law Mahendra Mahra is a member in the Rajya Sabha, while his wife had contested the Lok Sabha elections from Haridwar, but had lost. This faction fight is affecting the Congress workers.
Congress will support triple talaq, tacitly
The Congress has decided to unleash Obaidullah Azmi, a rabble rousing cleric who is a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, on the matter of Uniform Civil Code and triple talaq, while maintaining a distance from the two issues by saying they are sub-judice. Azmi is a recent recruit to the party and is vehemently opposing government interference in Muslim personal law. The Congress has given him the freedom to say whatever he wants, thus sending out the message to the Muslim community that it is supporting the controversial triple talaq. Azmi, who has come from Sharad Pawar’s NCP, was twice a member of the Rajya Sabha. He has been inducted with an eye on Muslim votes. Azmi has a substantial following among Sunni Muslims.
Jaikishen is unhappy
Jaikishen, the only Dalit face in the Congress in Delhi, is sulking. A five-time MLA, Jaikishen has been sidelined after he lost the last Assembly elections to the Aam Aadmi Party, which got most of Delhi’s Dalit votes. He is upset that the Congress has brought in Brij Lal Khabri from Mayawati’s BSP to get Dalit votes in Uttar Pradesh, while ignoring him. Jaikishen and his supporters are saying that although, like Mayawati, Khabri is a Jatav, he will not be able to bring any votes for the Congress as the community votes en masse for the BSP chief. They argue that it is Jaikishen who can be of use to the party as he is a Balmiki and has considerable support among his community. The Balmikis constitute a substantial portion of the 21% Dalits in UP. He has been kept out of campaigning in Punjab too. It is being said that Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ajay Maken, who a Rahul Gandhi confidant, is blocking him.
‘Akhilesh is a good boy’
Both Rahul Gandhi and Ghulam Nabi Azad have been heard saying, “Akhilesh achha ladka hai (Akhilesh is a good boy).” This is being seen as the Congress being open for an alliance with the Samajwadi Party, despite its assertion that it will go it alone in the polls. Rahul Gandhi’s yatra (rally) across UP has not had any effect, so the Congress is not averse to getting into an alliance. It prefers Maywati’s BSP over the SP, but the Behenji is a tough nut to crack.
So the Congress is sending feelers to Akhilesh Yadav for a tie-up.
If such an alliance takes place, there may be a third partner in the form of Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal. Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar are also said to be talking to the Congress, the SP and the RLD.