HT Image
HT Image

Congress, BJP are haunted by past misdeeds

Rahul Gandhi's excessive enthusiasm for winning new friends for the Congress has landed his party in some trouble. Several constituents of the UPA led by the Congress have not been amused by this search for partners since it suggests that the party no longer has much faith in the alliance.
By Amulya Ganguli | IANS
UPDATED ON MAY 09, 2009 12:35 PM IST

Rahul Gandhi's excessive enthusiasm for winning new friends for the Congress has landed his party in some trouble.

Several constituents of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by the Congress have not been amused by this search for partners since it suggests that the party no longer has much faith in the alliance.

True, the UPA is not in the pink of health. Its prominent members like Lalu Prasad, Ram Vilas Paswan and Mulayam Singh Yadav have set up a mini-front in the Hindi belt. They are fighting both the Congress and their main adversaries, the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) in Bihar and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh.

Speculation is also rife about Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar's prime ministerial ambitions.

None of this can be comforting for the Congress since these developments deepen its doubts about the UPA's cohesion as well as its ability to cross the half-way mark of 272 MPs.

Since the UPA will need outside support if it falls short, there is nothing surprising about Rahul Gandhi's expectations. But what was odd was his casting of a very wide net. Not only did his praise of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar signify overt courtship, he also expressed the hope about the Left returning to the Congress camp.

What was even more curious was his laudatory reference to Telugu Desam leader Chandrababu Naidu and oblique hints about a tie-up with AIADMK leader Jayalalitha.

Not surprisingly, this long list upset a number of the Congress's present allies. They included Lalu Prasad and Paswan, who evidently could not accept the overtures to their arch-adversary in Bihar, Nitish Kumar.

In West Bengal Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee was unhappy about a possible patch-up between the Congress and the Communists, who are her main opponents in the state.

In this atmosphere of disquiet and resentment among the UPA's members, Sonia Gandhi's cancellation of her proposed joint meetings with the DMK in Tamil Nadu, ostensibly because of Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's illness, was linked to the possibility of the Congress ditching the DMK in favour of the AIADMK.

It has to be noted that except for Naidu and Jayalalitha, the chances of the Congress coming closer to Nitish Kumar and the Left have been mentioned earlier. Among others, Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee, Sharad Pawar and Lalu Prasad have all said that a post-poll scene may no longer see a continuation of the estrangement between the Congress and the Left.

Similarly, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was the first who said that the Congress and Nitish Kumar may come closer together. She has also expressed similar hopes about Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Arguably, some of these remarks can be seen as the kind of mind games which the parties play to unnerve each other. The references to Nitish Kumar are particularly relevant because he has undoubtedly been carving out a separate space for himself in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

First, his focus on development after the 15 wasted years of Lalu Prasad's rule as chief minister has established his reputation as a doer in Bihar. Second, his rising personal popularity has put his partner, the BJP, very much in the shade in the state. Third, Nitish Kumar has successfully eased out the former JD-U chief and convener of the NDA, George Fernandes, from the party. Fernandes was known as a close supporter of the BJP.

All these developments mark out Nitish Kumar as a person whose present links with the BJP are tenuous. He has also said that although he is in the NDA at present, he cannot say anything about the future. He has also refused to share the stage with Narendra Modi and ruled out supporting him as a prime minister, as some in the BJP want.

It is easy to understand, therefore, why both the Congress and the Third Front have been eager to enlist the Bihar chief minister in their ranks. It is the same with Patnaik, who recently severed his ties with the BJP, as did Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal.

The BJP, on its part, is banking on a good showing in the states where it is in power on its own, such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Karnataka. Where the NDA is concerned, it should do well in Bihar though perhaps not in Punjab.

But what has been hampering its campaign is that, unlike the past, it does not have an emotive issue to propagate. It tried the "weak" prime minister line against Manmohan Singh for a while, but quickly dropped it when Manmohan Singh hit back by underlining LK Advani's vulnerabilities.

The BJP then took up the issue of recovering the black money stashed away in foreign banks by politicians and businessmen, hinting at the Congress's complicity in this matter. But it obviously does not have the kind of impact which the party's temple and terror planks earlier had.

However, the Congress has shot itself in the foot by the curious decision to withdraw the name of the controversial Italian businessman, Ottavio Quottrocchi, from Interpol's wanted list. Although the decision was the Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI), there was no doubt in anyone's mind that the government had influenced this supposedly autonomous body.

The Quottrocchi episode could not but revive memories of the Bofors scandal with which the Rajiv Gandhi government was associated. If the Babri Masjid demolition and the Gujarat riots haunt the BJP, it is the Bofors scandal which continues to hang like an albatross round the Congress's neck.

What is more, the worst affected by it is the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Its reputation for probity is hampered both by the scandal and the suspected manipulation of the CBI to provide reprieve to suspects like Quottrocchi, who is believed to be one of the recipients of the kickbacks from the purchase of the Bofors guns in the mid-1980s that was then distributed among key Indians.

Both the two main contenders - the Congress and the BJP - are hobbled, therefore, by their past and present misdeeds that they may have to pay a price for as they both strive to form a government post-May 16.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Mehul Choksi siphoned off close to <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>7,080 crore in the <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>13,578 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud before fleeing to Antigua on January 4, 2018, a month before the mega-scam came to notice.(HT Photo)
Mehul Choksi siphoned off close to 7,080 crore in the 13,578 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud before fleeing to Antigua on January 4, 2018, a month before the mega-scam came to notice.(HT Photo)

Antigua revokes citizenship of Mehul Choksi

By Neeraj Chauhan, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 12:57 AM IST
The development was confirmed to HT by at least two officers in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED), who added that the fugitive businessman is currently fighting revocation of his citizenship in an Antiguan civil court.
Close
The new rules that will cover over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as Netflix and Hotstar, social media intermediaries such as Facebook and Twitter, and digital news media, were notified by the government on Thursday.
The new rules that will cover over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as Netflix and Hotstar, social media intermediaries such as Facebook and Twitter, and digital news media, were notified by the government on Thursday.

New rules make way for self-regulation: I&B ministry secretary

By Deeksha Bhardwaj, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 12:31 AM IST
“There will be no authoritarian process,” information and broadcasting ministry secretary Amit Khare told Hindustan Times. “The regulation system is accountable to the courts. Any misuse of power can be checked.”
Close
After the elephant attacked and killed the man, it moved southwards leaving behind the 2-year-old calf, which is still in the village. (FOREST DEPT).
After the elephant attacked and killed the man, it moved southwards leaving behind the 2-year-old calf, which is still in the village. (FOREST DEPT).

Chhattisgarh man trampled to death while trying to take selfie with an elephant

PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 12:20 AM IST
  • The kin of the deceased have been given an instant relief amount of 25,000 and the body has been sent for post-mortem.
Close
People above 65 years of age, those with comorbidities, pregnant women and children below 10 years of age should take necessary precautions, the government advised. In picture - people near the Marina beach in Chennai.(ANI)
People above 65 years of age, those with comorbidities, pregnant women and children below 10 years of age should take necessary precautions, the government advised. In picture - people near the Marina beach in Chennai.(ANI)

Tamil Nadu extends Covid-19 lockdown till March 31

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Srivatsan K C, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 11:36 PM IST
The state government, in its new order on Sunday, said that the lockdown is being extended to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus effectively and also asked all district administrations to enforce strict Covid-19 appropriate behaviour.
Close
Amravati is under lockdown as Covid-19 cases witnessed a sudden uptick. (ANI)
Amravati is under lockdown as Covid-19 cases witnessed a sudden uptick. (ANI)

Feb spike of Covid-19 in several states: What we know about mutants, variants

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 11:04 PM IST
Mutations eventually accumulate to generate variants that differ from the original virus more and more.
Close
Teachers cited stress nearly twice as often as insufficient pay as a reason for quitting. (Praful Gangurde/HT Photo)
Teachers cited stress nearly twice as often as insufficient pay as a reason for quitting. (Praful Gangurde/HT Photo)

Stress key reason for teachers to quit job before, during pandemic: Study

ANI, Washington
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 10:08 PM IST
Most former teachers went on to take jobs with less or equal pay, with 3 in 10 taking jobs with no health insurance or retirement benefits.
Close
Health ministry on Sunday released a detailed guideline on how to self-register for vaccine on Co-Win app.
Health ministry on Sunday released a detailed guideline on how to self-register for vaccine on Co-Win app.

How to register on Co-Win: Ministry releases step-by-step guideline

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 11:17 PM IST
Booking once made on Co-Win app can be rescheduled to even a vaccination centre of another city, in case people have to travel between the two doses of vaccination
Close
File photo: National Conference president and former J-K PM Farooq Abdullah. (HT Photo)
File photo: National Conference president and former J-K PM Farooq Abdullah. (HT Photo)

'Congress must unite to defeat ‘divisive’ forces': Farooq Abdullah

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 09:59 PM IST
  • “I want the Congress party to be strong. I want the Congress to unite and fight the divisive forces," he said.
Close
Union Minister for Health &amp; Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan.(ANI)
Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan.(ANI)

Health Minister lauds contributions of medical professionals in pandemic

PTI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 09:58 PM IST
He made these remarks at the Global Indian Physicians Congress, organised by the Global Association for Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPIO), through video conference, the ministry said in a statement.
Close
The average voting percentage across all these local bodies together was around 60.26 per cent, it said.(HT Photo )
The average voting percentage across all these local bodies together was around 60.26 per cent, it said.(HT Photo )

Over 60% voter turnout recorded in Gujarat local body polls

PTI, Ahmedabad
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 09:24 PM IST
As per the provisional figures, voter turnout of 54.95 per cent across 81 municipalities, 62.41 per cent in 31 district panchayats, and 63.42 per cent in 231 taluka panchayat, was recorded, the State Election Commission (SEC) said.
Close
A farmer sleeps inside a mosquito net during a protest against the new farm laws, at the Singhu border in New Delhi on Sunday. (ANI Photo)
A farmer sleeps inside a mosquito net during a protest against the new farm laws, at the Singhu border in New Delhi on Sunday. (ANI Photo)

Delhi sees 2nd highest mean maximum temperature for Feb since 1901

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 09:09 PM IST
The highest mean maximum temperature recorded for February in Delhi was 29.7 degrees Celsius in 2006, the IMD officials said.
Close
Congress leader Rashid Alvi said that his party will have work round the clock and formulate a strategy in the upcoming polls to fight BJP.(File photo)
Congress leader Rashid Alvi said that his party will have work round the clock and formulate a strategy in the upcoming polls to fight BJP.(File photo)

Appreciating BJP's work ethics, Rashid Alvi says Congress must work 24/7

ANI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 08:59 PM IST
Alvi also commented on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's regret that he could not learn Tamil Nadu, during his monthly radio programme Maan Ki Baat.
Close
A health worker during a dry run for the administration of Covid-19 vaccine.(ANI/ File photo)
A health worker during a dry run for the administration of Covid-19 vaccine.(ANI/ File photo)

News updates from HT: Dry run at 4 govt-run hospitals in Pune tomorrow

PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 08:56 PM IST
Here are today’s top news, analysis and opinion. Know all about the latest news and other news updates from Hindustan Times.
Close
Congress flags waves at rallies
Congress flags waves at rallies

Congress faces uphill battle in poll-bound states

PTI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 08:40 PM IST
Barring Kerala, where the party feels it is poised to defeat the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF), the Congress is beset with ally troubles in all other poll-bound states-- Assam, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu -- and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
Close
A health worker wearing a PPE kit collects a swab sample of an old lady for the Covid-19 test at Dadar railway station. (ANI Photo)
A health worker wearing a PPE kit collects a swab sample of an old lady for the Covid-19 test at Dadar railway station. (ANI Photo)

8,293 new cases in Maharashtra as Covid-19 spike continues amid lockdown, curbs

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 09:18 PM IST
There are 12 active containment zones in Mumbai and 133 buildings have been sealed, according to data released by the Bhrihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP