What is KCR up to?
Telengana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao is suddenly missing from the platform of Opposition unity that he is believed to have spearheaded by rushing to meet Mamata Banerjee a few months ago to put together a non-Congress, non-BJP front. Yet, he was missing at the Karnataka CM’s swearing-in, though he claimed he had a prior commitment in his state. That was a credible excuse, but what was his excuse for not turning up at Kejriwal’s residence along with Mamata, Chandrababu Naidu and Kumaraswamy during their visit to Delhi last week? Moreover, at the NITI Aayog meet, KCR was seen mingling with BJP CMs Raman Singh and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, instead of those from the Opposition side. Is KCR planning another U-turn?
Big Brother No More
Is all well between the UP ke ladke—the Congress and the SP? Akhilesh Yadav’s party was the only one that was missing at the Congress’ iftar in New Delhi. Later, SP sources let it be known that while the party is keen on a tie-up between the BSP and the RLD in the coming polls, it will bring the Congress on board only if the party agrees to limit its acceptance to only two seats. “Winnability is important” said the source, pointing out that the Congress has little influence beyond the Amethi and Rae Bareli seats. But, according to the Congress, the bargaining point in UP lies in MP because the Congress has reached out to the BSP for a tie-up, but not the SP. “So they are saying that if they are considered a negligible source in MP, then the Congress is negligible in UP,” he explained. Well, perhaps Akhilesh Yadav’s party has a point here because during the recent bypolls in Mungaoli and Kolaras, the Congress reached out to SP, asking it not to field any candidate to divide the anti-BJP vote and the SP had obliged. But when it came to Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls, the Congress did not play by the same rules. When approached by the SP at the time, Raj Babbar, the Congress PCC chief, instead asked that they leave Phuplur for the Congress and let the SP contest Gorakhpur. When the SP refused, the Congress went ahead and fielded its own candidates in both the seats, thereby dividing the anti-BJP vote. Clearly, the message from its old ally is clear—the Congress needs to dial down its Big Brother attitude.
New LS Leader for Congress?
After its current leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, has been given charge of Maharashtra, there is speculation that the Congress may look to replace him in the Lower House. The question is with whom? There is speculation that Rahul Gandhi may himself opt for the job, as this will help him coordinate and build a rapport with other party chiefs. The counter argument is that Sonia Gandhi is already doing the same as UPA chairperson; however, with Sonia taking a back seat, this is one way of building Rahul’s image beyond the Congress. Other names could be Jyotiraditya Scindia’s who is clearly the party’s most fiery and importantly, bilingual speaker. This could also be one way of keeping him in New Delhi (albeit for the limited time Parliament is in session) and out of Madhya Pradesh where his bete noir Kamal Nath is PCC chief.