Sunday, 23 August 2015

A MUCH NEEDED RESPITE!

Shivraj Singh Chouhan - Facebook
Move over the Opposition disrupting the entire monsoon session of the Parliament over the Vyapam Scam or the non-NDA political parties calling for the resignation of Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan for his alleged role, rather, his inability to prevent the scam and later protect the accused and the witnesses in the case. If the results of the ten municipal corporations that went to the polls this month are to go by, the Chief Minister who has won two straight terms in the state assembly continues to 'rule' the hearts of the people and the BJP remains to be the party of their choice. Of course, the municipal polls are in no way, a referendum on Chouhan and the victory in few cities and towns scattered across MP cannot be extrapolated to the entire state. As the saffron outfit's detractors will tell you, the BJP has traditionally done well in urban centers, the 2009 General Elections being a rare exception. However, the extent of BJP's win and the decimation of the Congress in the thick of media's relentless coverage of the Recruitment Scam has punctured the Opposition's stand. This coming at a time when the Congress wanted to use the episode as a tool to 'gherao' the Modi regime.

For a leader who was fighting fire on all fronts, the emphatic victory would have come as a much needed relief for Chouhan, especially after there were murmurs within the state unit of the party of a possible rift. The results have pretty much laid to rest all the clamor, at least from within the saffron ranks, for his ouster. The CM is an astute politician; aware that the results of the polls could to a large extent decide his political future, he actively took part in the campaigning, attending several road shows. There is no surprise then that he was quick to leverage political mileage once the news of BJP's impressive win were declared. On his twitter handle, Singh played the 'victim' card, accusing his detractors of trying to maligning his image and that of the Madhya Pradesh while promising to fight to uphold the prestige of the state.

Besides the CM, the victory is also a big shot in the arm for Narendra Modi. If you notice, the Congress' strategy primarily focused on puncturing Modi's poll promise of wiping out corruption from the country. By sweeping the civic polls, Chouhan has to some extent reposed the PM's faith in him. There is little doubt that the Congress now will have to re-think its move of blocking key reforms thereby allowing the NDA to table some of its pet Bills. Ditto for the BJP. The saffron outfit is likely to use the results of the local body elections to counter any further efforts by the Opposition to corner it.

On the opposite end of the political spectrum, the Congress camp is in a mess, a state that it has been in for long. In spite of all the hue and cry about the Vyapam Scam, it has failed miserably, managing to win just a single municipality while losing two to the BJP. Having been out of power for 12 years, the INC lacks any sort of organizational structure in the central state. This is perhaps the reason that it could just not capitalize on this golden opportunity. The party on its part, needs to retrospect as to why it has not been able to win the trust of the electorate here for so long. Another point to ponder about for the INC is that whenever it is pitted against the Modi-led BJP, its performance has been dismal. In fact, the party seems to have completely botched up the campaign. The protests against Vyapam were centered in Delhi and ironically, not in MP, where it is alleged to have taken place, a classic case of barking up the wrong tree. Surprisingly, none of its top leadership was seen at party rallies held in the state before the polls.

It is now for the Congress to decide whether it wants to continue holding the nation and the Parliament hostage over the issue or abandon it and move on. Frankly speaking, there is nothing wrong in fighting the saffron camp over the Recruitment Scam; I mean, the number of deaths and the money involved is too high for the Congress to let this 'opportunity' to pass by. But then, there are other, more mature ways of fighting the government. Hope, Rahul Gandhi is listening.

Speaking of the junior Gandhi, since he was the one leading the Congress protests in the Parliament, he has a lot to answer. Though he is trying to break the mould and meet more people, he was missing from action in Madhya Pradesh. Think about it, for a cadre which has been demoralized and directionless after a spate of losses, the very presence of the Vice President could have fused in a lot of confidence. And then, how can one absolve leaders like Jyotiraditya Scindia and Digvijay Singh of the blame? Though he has been at the helm of party affairs for sometime now, the junior Scindia has just not produced any results. Certainly, the party high commands needs to rethink its decision of placing such an important state unit in the hands of such a young and politically immature leader.