Cool Breeze: Democracy with a smile

Cool Breeze: Democracy with a smile

By PRIYA SAHGAL | 26 March, 2017


BJD MP Baijayant (Jay) Panda is suddenly seeing an irony in the UP verdict. He has for long been suggesting reforms to reduce Rajya Sabha’s power to veto bills passed by the Lok Sabha. Until the recent round of Assembly polls, his suggestions had been vetoed by the Congress and the Opposition, which held the majority in the Upper House. But after the BJP sweep in UP, this equation is set to change. By next year, the NDA will have a majority in the Rajya Sabha as well. “Now I guess the Congress will support me and the BJP will oppose my suggestions,” said Panda with a rueful smile. That’s democracy for you.


With two of its spokesmen having shifted to Uttar Pradesh as state ministers, will the BJP revamp its media cell? Both Siddharth Nath Singh and Srikant Jena have been made ministers in the Yogi Adityanath government. Clearly, the media cell, which has promoted so many ministers in the past—from Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu, Rajeev Pratap Rudy to Mukhtar Abhas Naqvi—is not losing its golden touch.


With Yogi Adityanath giving up his MP seat for an MLA ticket, his Lok Sabha constituency in Gorakhpur will face a byelection. The Congress, while still to recover from its defeat, is mulling to field a candidate from this popular BJP bastion. Given the BJP wave in the state, any candidate fielded by the Congress will have his task cut out for him. A whisper campaign has begun that one of the “generals” in-charge of the disastrous UP campaign should now be made to face the electorate so they get a touch of ground reality. The names of Pramod Tiwari and Raj Babbar are doing the rounds. Will the “high command” give in to the popular mood within its party?


TV anchors, while conducting debates about a possible Modi vs the Rest coalition being formed for 2019, get a reality check. For despite the lip service to the idea of a secular idea, the so-called secular allies of the Congress don’t seem particularly keen to espouse their cause with Rahul Gandhi’s party. Congress representatives on panel discussions are politely told that the Congress needs to get its own credible narrative in place, as well as a credible and consistent leadership. Clearly, other regional parties don’t hold out much hope for a Rahul-led Congress taking on a resurgent Modi led-BJP. Some allies like the JD(U) and the BJD have already done business with the BJP earlier. Naveen Patnaik’s party has been built on an anti Congress platform in Odisha. In Bihar, Nitish Kumar is more comfortable with Sushil Modi than he is with Lalu Yadav. Of late, the two have also supported demonetisation. As for the Congress party’s other allies, Omar Abdullah has been giving wake-up calls in a series of tweets. Akhilesh Yadav is still to figure out if the party remains with him or if it will be hijacked by his father (Don’t forget Mulayam Singh Yadav’s warm outreach to the PM on Yogi Adityanath’s swearing in. The SP leader embraced the PM warmly as he whispered something in his ear. What did he say? Mulayam told the media, “If it wasn’t a gopniya baat (secret) I wouldn’t have whispered it.”) That really leaves Congress with the mercurial Mamata Banerjee, an ebbing NCP and a bruised Mayawati. In the South, the DMK too is wary of the Congress’ recent overtures to the Sasikala camp of the AIADMK. Which leaves Rahul with an increasing list of RSVPs.


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