Sonia may retire after U.P. elections
Sonia Gandhi is planning to retire from active politics after the Uttar Pradesh elections because of health reasons. In fact, she was reluctant to accept the one-year extension as party president that the Congress Working Committee gave her on Monday. She accepted it after insistence from senior leaders. She wanted Rahul Gandhi to be made president. Other leaders too want him to take over, but the majority in the party wants him to wait until the forthcoming elections in the five states get over. Until then Rahul will continue as de facto president. Priyanka Vadra will most likely fight the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from her mother’s seat, Rai Bareli.
Kishor focuses on Punjab
Prashant Kishor may be out of UP politics, but continues to be close to Rahul Gandhi. He is now working for the Congress in Punjab. He is also likely to work for Mulayam Singh Yadav, who wants him to make the Samajwadi Party win the Assembly elections. According to sources close to the SP chief, Kishor has told him that he needs a “grand alliance” to win in UP.
Jitin not happy with Prashant Kishor
Prashant Kishor got a dressing down from Jitin Prasada, the “young” Congress leader from Uttar Pradesh. Prasada suspects that it was because of Kishor’s opposition that he could not become Pradesh Congress Committee chief. In fact, Prasada could not find a place even in the party’s ticket distribution committee. Instead PK, as Kishor is called, has been promoting Imran Masood and Lalitesh Tripathi in Delhi. Even R.P.N. Singh is upset with PK. The UP leaders feel that PK is taking too much liberty because of his proximity to Rahul Gandhi. He even wants to be projected as a Brahmin leader and contest from Doaba in Deoria, his hometown.
Sheila wants to step down
Congress’ chief ministerial face for Uttar Pradesh, Sheila Dikshit sought party president Sonia Gandhi’s permission to step down. She was asked to continue with the rider that if an alliance with the Samajwadi Party works out then she would be given a dignified reason to step down. Considering she is not getting any support from the Congress at the ground level, Sheila Dikshit is the strongest votary of a partnership with the SP.
Mulayam not keen on alliance with Cong
Mulayam Singh Yadav has hinted that he does not want an alliance with the Congress in UP, primarily because he does not want the Congress to grow in UP at the cost of the Samajwadi Party. If the Congress gets strong in UP, the Muslims, who are a vote bank of the SP, will turn to the national party. But he is still open to negotiations if a senior Congress leader talks to him. In fact, the Congress is demanding 159 seats and may settle for 100, but Mulayam is not willing to part with so many tickets.
Three ministers failed
The Prime Minister’s Office has given the PM a report card on the performance of Cabinet ministers. It is a detailed document containing achievements, controversies, positive media coverage, schemes implemented and contribution to larger government perception. While most ministers received decent grades, three ministers “failed” to qualify—Kalraj Mishra received the lowest 2.1 out of 10, Sadananda Gowda got 2.6 and Dr Harshvardhan 2.9.