Modi supporters in the RSS were delighted when VHP strong man and Modi- baiter Pravin Togadia quit as international president after his nominee for the post of president, Raghav Reddy, lost the recent organisational election.
But their delight has quickly turned to worry over mounting anger among members of the Gujarat unit of the VHP. They are up in arms over what they perceive as Togadia’s humiliation.
The Gujarat wing of the VHP consists mostly of Togadia camp followers. After all, he has dominated the organisation for 25 years. His loyalists feel that that the recent election was “rigged” to ensure the defeat of Togadia’s candidate.
The decision to have an election was itself a huge surprise because the VHP has never elected its office bearers. They have always been appointed by consensus.
Modi supporters in the RSS have been unhappy with Togadia for a long time because he refused to repair his relationship with the Prime Minister. In fact, he often embarrassed Modi after the latter became PM. Modi loyalists feel he did so deliberately.
They have been carrying out a campaign against Togadia with the top leadership of the RSS for some time now. The unprecedented decision to hold an election is being seen as a ruse to oust Togadia.
It is interesting that VHP members usually avoid the press. But those in Gujarat are seeking out the media these days to publicise their anger at the way Togadia has been marginalised.
The resentment in the Gujarat VHP should worry the BJP because it will need all affiliates of the RSS to work for Modi’s victory in 2019 after the party’s narrow victory in last year’s assembly polls.
Nitish, Paswan join hands
Nitish Kumar and Ram Vilas Paswan are inching towards creating a front within the NDA for better bargaining power with the BJP during seat negotiations for the 2019 general election.
The two Bihar leaders have met four times already and will probably meet again and again in the run up to 2019. Both are feeling restless about their marginalisation in the NDA and are resentful about the BJP’s bid to dominate in Bihar.
Both are also worried about their electoral prospects. They realize that 2019 may not see a 2014 Modi wave and they have evolved a two-pronged strategy to regain relevance. One is to team up and try to consolidate the MBCs and Dalits behind them into a solid voting block.
The other is to squeeze the BJP for as many seats as possible because they realise that the next government could well be a coalition government in which regional parties will play a bigger role.
As part of his effort to woo Paswan, Nitish has made a huge gesture. He has eliminated the Maha Dalit category for social welfare benefits. The Paswan community was excluded from this grouping and consequently denied government sops. Now all Dalits, including the Paswans, are entitled to welfare schemes of the Bihar government.
Waiting for Digvijaya
Everyone in the media is waiting impatiently for Congress leader Digvijaya Singh to give an interview after finishing his 3,300 km Narmada parikrama.
The big question on the mind of all journos is where Digvijaya stands in the Madhya Pradesh Congress power struggle to be declared the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming state polls.
Digvijaya has not said anything but the Congress grapevine is buzzing with speculation that he has made it clear to Rahul Gandhi that he will not support Jyotiraditya Scindia as CM nominee.
Media persons are impatient to hear what he has to say on this burning issue. Unfortunately, so far, Digvijaya has fobbed off all requests for an interview with the excuse that hardly any media organisation covered his Narmada parikrama.
Why should I speak to the media, he has been telling journos. He says he will go through the coverage he received and give his much-sought after interview to the channel or newspaper that gave his yatra the widest coverage.
Who will that be? Actually, journos may be chasing him for nothing. Digvijaya is a wily old warhorse. He may choose to keep his cards close to his chest and not speak on the internal struggle that’s on in the MP Congress.
Apparently, Kamal Nath is quite keen on being projected as CM although he has for the record said that he will support Scindia. If Digvijaya and Kamal Nath team up, they will be a formidable pair. Rahul will find it difficult to take them on and opt for Scindia.
One of the chief reasons for the BJP’s confidence in MP is the faction fight in the Congress. Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan feels he can pull off a fourth consecutive victory for his party because the Congress is so divided.
Gehlot or Pilot?
The other state where the Congress is well poised to take on the BJP and possibly defeat it is Rajasthan. But here too, the party is embroiled in factionalism.
Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot are vying with each to be declared the CM face in the upcoming election. Gehlot’s recent appointment as Congress general secretary sparked off speculation that Pilot would be the CM face since Gehlot has moved to Delhi.
Gehlot quickly scotched the buzz the other day. He told media persons that he has gone from Delhi earlier to be the CM of Rajasthan. Actually, in 2008, when the Congress won the state, Gehlot was general secretary in Delhi. He was sent back to Rajasthan as CM after his party’s victory.
It seems Gehlot is relying on this precedent to beat Pilot in the race for the CM’s post.