Maya ready to ally with Congress
Mayawati seems to have learnt her lesson after her decimation in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, where her Bahujan Samaj Party was reduced to 18 seats in a 403-member Assembly. She is believed to be ready to ally with the Congress. When the Congress had approached her for a pre-poll alliance, she had bluntly refused a tie-up. But now she has to save her crumbling domain and ensure that she also gets a Rajya Sabha seat. Her supporters believe that if she cannot manage a Rajya Sabha seat for herself next year, she may even get arrested in the disproportionate assets case.
Mamata wants to lead grand alliance
Even before the Opposition can come together in the hope of capturing power in 2019, the race has started on who will be their Prime Ministerial candidate. After Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee too has jumped into the fray. She is meeting Opposition leaders to form an anti-NDA grand alliance. She has already met Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel of the Congress, Praful Patel of the NCP and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. She is also scheduled to meet Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. These meetings are being seen as an effort on her part to increase her bargaining power, which she has lost after the BJP’s victories in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Her belligerence on Teesta water sharing is also being seen as an attempt to show the Prime Minister that she was the boss—that the water treaty cannot be signed with Bangladesh unless she agrees to it.
Virbhadra may lose CM’s chair
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is under pressure to reshuffle party posts ahead of the series of state elections in 2018. Changes are expected in UP, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Haryana Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. In Himachal, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh may be removed from his post and made Pradesh Congress Committee chief. Vidya Stokes may be made CM in his place. In Rajasthan, the Congress again needs Ashok Gehlot. In Punjab, the party is looking for a new PCC chief, as Amarinder Singh is now Chief Minister.
Nitish Kumar, however, has announced programmes for the whole year to commemorate Champaran.
Congress forgot Champaran
The Congress leadership is so shocked with the party’s series of poll debacles that they forgot about the centenary of Gandhi’s Champaran movement in Bihar. Champaran was the first clarion call given Gandhi in 1917, after he returned from South Africa. The Champaran movement was the beginning of the uprising of peasants and farm labourers, who were forced to grow indigo and poppy instead of food crops necessary for their survival. At a time when farmers are suffering, it was expected that Rahul Gandhi, who had embarked on a kisan yatra, would remember Champaran. However, even though Congress forgot Champaran, not Nitish Kumar. He has announced programmes for the whole year to commemorate Champaran. There will be prabhat pheris (morning marches) and lectures on the Mahatma. This should scotch the rumour that the Bihar Chief Minister is joining hands with the BJP as Kumar thinks Gandhi means being anti RSS.