Reading into Digvijay&’s motivated tweets ~ Arati R Jerath
Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh is known as someone who often floats a trial balloon for his party, just to help the leadership get a sense of the house on a contentious issue, a new idea or a proposed policy pronouncement. So his recent tweet in praise of Mayawati set political pulses racing about a possible realignment in Uttar Pradesh for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Is the Congress hoping for a pre-poll understanding with the BSP to consolidate a winning Brahmin-Dalit-Muslim alliance against a Narendra Modi-led BJP? More importantly, is the BSP willing for a pact with the Congress whose popularity is in free fall because of the declining rupee, continuing price rise and endless scandals?
Digvijay certainly seems to be testing the waters for a possible understanding. As communal fires ravaged Muzzaffarnagar last weekend, the Congress leader tweeted: “The SP government&’s track record in this tenure is bad. Haven’t been able to control communal forces in Uttar Pradesh. Even BSP&’s was better.’’ This was the man who has been Mayawati&’s bitterest critic and the brain behind Rahul Gandhi&’s ill-fated shrill anti-BSP campaign during the 2012 UP assembly polls which swung the verdict firmly in the SP&’s favour.
Before dismissing his tweet as the ranting of a leader who has developed a reputation for speaking out of turn, remember that Digvijay is the one who let the cat out of the bag about an impending Congress-SP understanding before the crucial nuclear deal vote in 2008. Mulayam Singh bailed the Manmohan Singh government out of a tight spot when the Left withdrew support that year. Then, Digvijay praised the SP at a rally in UP. Now, he&’s complimenting the BSP.
It is well known in Congress circles that Sonia Gandhi harbours deep suspicions about Mulayam Singh but has a soft corner for Mayawati. Her Man Friday Ahmed Patel is in regular touch with Mayawati&’s chief aide, Satish Mishra. And the Congress-BSP honeymoon in Parliament is evident to all. With the current Lok Sabha nearing the end of its five-year term and the JD(U) firmly in the UPA camp, the Congress can easily live without the SP. Digvijay&’s tweet was possibly a floater to gauge the Muslim reaction to a Congress-BSP deal for 2014.
Pawar opposes, PM disposes
Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar must be an unhappy man. The Manmohan Singh government has finally gathered courage to take a decision Pawar stoutly resisted as long as he was consumer affairs minister. The decision relates to oversight of the Forward Markets Commission which regulates the 21 commodity bourses in the country. As of this week, the finance ministry will watch over the FMC instead of the consumer affairs ministry. Those who are in the loop about the debate that has raged in the government on this issue say that the PM tried many times to bring the FMC under the purview of the finance ministry but the move was blocked by Pawar at every step. The matter became particularly sensitive when forward trading in commodities came under fire in view of rising food prices, especially wheat and sugar. Congress circles accused Pawar for having a vested interest in keeping control of the FMC.
It was only when the consumer affairs ministry was taken from Pawar and given to K V Thomas of the Congress instead that the proposal began to move. Even then, given that Thomas took charge of the ministry in January 2011, it has taken the government more than two years to push a decision the PM was keen on. No wonder they talk of a policy paralysis. It took a Rs 5,600 crore scam in one of the biggest commodity bourses, the National Spot Exchange Ltd, to get the government going.
Yechury’s Nehruvian leanings
Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar surprised fellow Rajya Sabha MP and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury with a slip of paper on which he had scribbled the following words: Sitaram Nehru Jawaharlal Yechury. This happened during the discussion on the economic crisis in which Yechury chided the government for handing out doles to corporate houses. He said money should be spent on strengthening public sector undertakings instead of the private sector.
Yechury&’s words were obviously music to Aiyar&’s ears. Aiyar has been a vocal critic of Manmohanomics. A diehard Nehruvian, he never supported disinvestment. He advocated strengthening the public sector which was a pillar of Jawaharlal Nehru&’s economic vision for India. The slip he scribbled was his way of thumping the table in approval of Yechury&’s speech. The question is: how did the CPI(M) leader feel being compared to Nehru who was responsible for the dismissal of the first Communist government in Kerala in 1959?