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Symptoms of Congress Split?
|by Dr. Rajinder Puri|
Imagine a Grand Vizier owning a parrot. Imagine the Vizier chafing under the frustrating orders issued by his imperious Queen. One day the parrot mouths blasphemies against the Queen’s entourage. The palace would be agog. Where did the parrot pick up these blasphemies? Was it from the Vizier himself or from some unsavoury strangers? This question would be answered by how the Vizier treated his parrot. Would he banish the bird or protect it?
Well, that’s how political observers are keenly watching what happens to the Prime Minister’s media adviser Mr Harish Khare. Last Monday Khare attended a book launch function along with Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh. In his remarks to the audience Khare rubbished the Congress party. He said that Congress by nature was “entirely a status quoist, centrist party. It does not believe in conviction. The only conviction it has is how to win elections”. He said social change cannot come in the “politics which rewards cynicism, family nepotism, bogus factionalism and groupism in the party yet expect the larger body of citizens to make sacrifices”. He delivered the knockout punch by affirming that any attempt for change was doomed because “you can’t change the Congress”.
Next day Khare retracted to praise the Congress and claim that he was misunderstood. For a veteran journalist of his competence he would know that his retraction would sound meaningless. His words were unambiguous and sharp. His remarks conveyed a clear message. His retraction was the standard political ploy to formally dissociate him from that message. The question is of course whether Khare was expressing merely his own views or also the views of his boss, the Prime Minister.
To determine that observers keenly wait to see what happens to him. Had Khare expressed strictly personal views action against him should have been swift. More than forty-eight hours have passed. Nothing has happened to the PM’s media adviser. This despite the fact that the issue must have been discussed during a subsequent lunch Khare had with Janardhan Dwivedi who heads the Congress Party media cell. The Congress party’s caution to deal with Khare suggests strongly that his views had the PM’s tacit support. The PM’s silence may justifiably be interpreted as such. This, in exactly the same way that Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s silence after her political secretary Ahmed Patel met with notorious money launderer Hassan Ali was interpreted as her tacit support for that meeting.
Well, things are happening, aren’t they? July witnessed the open inner party rift within Congress over the Indo-Pak talks when the MEA and MHA took pot shots against each other. Then, Digvijaya Singh and Chidambaram had a go at each other. Dissidence is growing within Congress. As early as May 23 it was written: “While one set of ruling politicians under pressure of public opinion is impelled to expose the names involved in the Hassan Ali case, there is another set of politicians who are aware that their heads are on the chopping block. The second set that feels threatened… (is) being forced to pre-empt… (to prevent) exposure… (they) can do this only by toppling the government and seizing power. According to the political grapevine they are already on the job. There is hectic activity under the surface. The conspiracy to change the government within the next few months is under way.” This was followed up on June 7th with the words: “Before winter it should be known if the UPA government survives, whether major political realignments occur… All this may appear wildly fanciful… suspend judgment till November, 2010.”
Such big changes as ruling party splits don’t just occur because of growing dissidence. There has to occur a catalytic event. Well, writing half in jest this scribe observed how in 1905 badly governed Tsarist Russia lost a naval battle against tiny Japan. The humiliation caused triggered the revolutionary movement that culminated in the 1917 Russian Revolution. Today’s public wars are fought on the playing field. The Commonwealth Games (CWG) seems to be heading towards an international fiasco as envisaged. Countries are already threatening to pull out after exposure of poor preparation, security threats and Dengue. If the CWG does collapse the blame game will begin in right earnest. It will not be confined to the opposition. It could also erupt within the Congress. So let’s wait till November. As yet we are only in end September.
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09/23/2010 16:54 PM
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