Is there a Congress mole in BJP?
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Is there a Congress mole in BJP?

Incident that has furrowed the brows of the BJP top brass is Maharashtra BJP’s Twitter handle tagging Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam, party spokesperson Sachin Sawant and Rahul Gandhi

mumbai Updated: Dec 05, 2017 18:18 IST
Sujata Anandan
Sujata Anandan
Hindustan Times
he first concerning the Congress was not too surprising — Shehzad Poonawalla, a Congress ideologue, raised questions about the process of election of the Congress president. (ANI)

This weekend, two incidents relating to breach of protocol in the two main political parties have set tongues wagging. The first concerning the Congress was not too surprising — Shehzad Poonawalla, a Congress ideologue, raised questions about the process of election of the Congress president, charged the party with packing the electoral college with loyalists and called for the election of a non-dynast to the job.

This is something that is neither new nor unprecedented. Poonawallamight have been too young to remember when Sitaram Kesari contested for the post of party president in 1997, exactly the same situation had prevailed. Kesari had been no dynast and Sharad Pawar had thought that he stood a good chance at winning the presidential election. Kesari was singularly unqualified for the job and yet Congress delegates voted overwhelmingly to elect him not because they thought Pawar was any worse but simply because the Congress mindset is not to upset the applecart, go with the tried and tested (Kesari had been working president for a while) and maintain the status quo.

Where the situation is different today is that while Rahul Gandhi might be a dynast, he is not clueless like Kesari who almost gave up mid-way through the 1998 elections when the Congress was on the verge of decimation and Sonia Gandhi stepped in to salvage the situation. Unlike Kesari, Rahul is a fighter, does not give up (he has, after all, kept plodding in the face of successive defeats and so much ridicule poured on him) and is leading the fight in Gujarat from the front. And, technically, the field was open to Poonawalla (or anyone else) to contest against Rahul if he so wanted, though there are no guarantees that he would not be mauled as badly as Pawar was two decades back. In fact, I am pretty sure he would have fared worse - at least Pawar got all the votes from Maharashtra. Poonawalla may not have even a fraction of that support base.

But it is the second incident that has tickled political observers pink and furrowed the brows of the BJP top brass. On Sunday morning, the Maharashtra BJP’s Twitter handle tagged Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam and party spokesperson Sachin Sawant, along with Rahul Gandhi, to alert them, in pidgin English (perhaps for the benefit of Gandhi), that Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis was retrenching 30 percent of government staff and making a “fool” of Maharashtra while hypocritically mouthing “Make in Maharashtra” !

It was some hours before the BJP noticed the breach and deleted the tweet but by then screen shots were taken and Congress leaders, including leader of the opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, had a field day “congratulating” the BJP and crowing about how truth finally outs itself.

There is much resentment in the BJP against not just Fadnavis but also the manner in which the party is admitting outsiders (including Congressmen) and giving them more importance than the old hands who worked hard over years to help the party to power. Then, again, many old BJP hands are upset with Fadnavis’s style of functioning and are worried that the mess his government has made of its, well, governance of the state could prove detrimental to party interests at the next elections. This could be their way of drawing attention to their own top party leaders - to whom they have less access than Congressmen have to their own high command - rather than to that of Rahul Gandhi or other Congress leaders per se. For the immediate hullaballoo and unusual attempt to draw the Congress into an internal matter of the BJP would be sure to cause concern among party leaders and get them to sit up and take notice - as has now happened.

The BJP account is handled by just four persons but if it was not one of them who tweeted that message (as BJP leaders now deny their complicity), there has been a serious security breach in the party office. This incident is somehow worse and more worrying than when the Congress mouthpiece ‘Congress Darshan’ carried a piece in December 2015 attacking Jawaharlal Nehru’s Kashmir policy and praising Sardar Vallabbhai Patel to the skies by comparison. Congressmen then were convinced the writer had been a BJP mole who had somehow infiltrated their party office and sabotaged their interests.

But now has a Congress mole wormed his way into the BJP office? Even the BJP wants to know.

First Published: Dec 05, 2017 18:18 IST