Race to the Bottom

Nirmala Sitharaman recently commented that while she has been told she is the “worst Finance Minister” she hopes that her critics would wait for her to finish her term and give her ideas instead of criticism. This has led to a debate on social media as to who gets that title of “Worst FM” ever. And the contenders range from Pranab Mukherjee, who brought in retrospective taxation, to Arun Jaitley, under whose watch demonetisation took place.

Back to Rahul

Is the Congress doing a full circle and bringing back Rahul Gandhi as party chief, all with the pretext of a “democratic” election of course. That seems to be the buzz in Congress circles, especially with the Congress hoping to do well in the Jhakhand elections where it’s hoping to piggyback on its ally the JMM’s popularity. This could be one reason why Rahul has been deputed by Sonia Gandhi to address a fair chunk of rallies in the state—unlike in Haryana and Maharashtra where the Congress was not expected to do as well as it did. However, the ascension needs to happen before the Delhi elections due early next year, as the Aam Aadmi Party has refused Congress overtures’ for a tie-up. Which brings the timeframe to early January and there is talk of an AICC session planned in Udaipur. Will power be less poisonous in this city than it was in neighbouring Jaipur (when Rahul was made vice president in 2013)? One can only wonder.

Right script, wrong actors

There is an undercurrent of resentment within the BJP against the list of newcomers who have joined the party from other parties and have been given prominent positions, especially as party spokesman. As one veteran BJP leader stated, you can imagine our plight when we see these newcomers articulating the party’s perspective on issues, especially when we have seen them attack us on these very same issues not so long ago. Some of these spokespersons include Gaurav Bhatia (formerly with the SP), Tom Vadakkan (ex Congressman and also was a staunch Gandhi family loyalist before he joined BJP), Jay Panda (ex BJD) and Shazia Ilmi (formerly with AAP).

Though in Jay Panda’s favour it must be added that even while with the BJD he had been supportive of the Narendra Modi government defending it on demonetisation, the GST and the economy. And when asked why he was being supportive of the BJP while in the BJD, he used to laugh and say that the answer lies in his name—his initials are BJP, BaiJayant Panda!

Hows & whys of BJP leaders

While Nirmala Sitharaman is getting a lot of flak on social media for her “I don’t eat onions” comment, there is a case that her statement was taken out of context for she was replying to a pointed question asking if she consumed onions. But how does that explain some of her colleagues? There is MoS Ashwini Choubey who told the media “I am a vegetarian. I have never tasted an onion. So how will a person like me know about the situation (i.e. market prices reaching Rs 180 per kg)?” How indeed? Then there is another BJP MP, Virendra Singh Mast, who questioned statistics citing a slowdown in the automobile sector, commenting that to “defame the nation and the government people are saying that the automobile sector has slowed down. If there is a decline in automobile sales then why are there traffic jams on the roads?” Why indeed?

 

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