High powered book launch
Congress leader Manish Tewari’s book launch in the capital was a high profile one with Dr Manmohan Singh, Farooq Abdullah, Pavan Varma and Tewari on the dais. It was here that Dr Singh advised the PM to “exercise restraint” according to the stature of his office. Not to be outdone, Dr Abdullah too pointed out, “The quality goes down to the level of forgetting what Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru contributed to this nation, what Indira Gandhi gave to the nation. She gave her life… But what are we talking about? Meri maa ko gaali diya, mere baap ko gaali diya [they abused my mother; they abused my father]. Is that what a Prime Minister is supposed to do?” The hall was packed with Congress leaders, from Anand Sharma to Ambika Soni. It was left to Pavan Varma to man the NDA’s defence. But going by the crowded hall that remained riveted till the end, it certainly was a power packed evening.
Congress out, others in
It does look as if the BSP and SP have finalised the seat sharing for 2019. What’s interesting here is that while the RLD is in, the Congress is not part of the alliance, though they have decided not to contest any candidates from Rae Bareli and Amethi. While Mayawati was always against accommodating the Congress, Akhilesh Yadav had been keen to include them. He had been told if he wanted to, he could give the Congress seats from his quota. But now, post the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh elections, where the Congress did not agree to any of Akhilesh’s demands for seat sharing (for instance, the seat that was offered to Akhilesh in Rajashtan was one that the BSP was contesting. Not keen to make it a BSP vs SP fight, he had asked for another one, but was refused.) So now, the miffed SP chief is not going to go out of his way to accommodate the Congress in his home turf. Clearly, you win some and lose some.