December is a beautiful month. Weather in this part of the world is cooler, despite global warming and all. Christmas is round the corner. There is a spirit of giving in the air. This year, christmas has come early for Mr. Rahul Gandhi and congress party.
- First, Mr. Gandhi has been selected as president of Indian National Congress.
- Second, under leadership of Mr. Rahul Gandhi, congress party has given a better show in Gujarat state assembly election. Mr. Rahul Gandhi fought well in Gujarat. His arguments had traction. His body language was more confident.
- Finally, a CBI court has acquitted all accused in 2G telecom spectrum scam. 2G scam was one of corruption issue that BJP had highlighted during national election. The value of one lac seventy six thousand crore loss to exchequer is etched in public memory.
Developments of past week has made many to think downturn Narendra Modi lead NDA government has started. Under leadership of Mr. Rahul Gandhi and his astute alliance building skill, UPA and congress will take back reins of government from NDA in 2019. We do not know what will happen in 2019 general election. But the following points are worth considering:
- At the present time BJP and its allies are ruling in 19 states of India. Congress party on the other hand rules two states, namely Punjab and Karnataka.
- Leadership of congress party did not expose Mr. Rahul Gandhi to Himachal Pradesh, a state where congress had to defend its track record. In way, congress party sacrificed Himachal Pradesh to fight Gujarat election. BJP won Himachal Pradesh with two third majority.
- Congress party chose to fight Gujarat election with full force in the hope that
- 22 years anti-incumbancy coupled with impacts of demonetisation and GST will very likely bring down BJP.
- A victory in the home state of prime minister of India, would have been a feather in the crown of new president of Indian National Congress, Mr. Rahul G.
- A victory would create a template for formation of a multi party alliance to fight Narendra Modi and BJP at the level of different state and national elections.
Coming to 2G case, many are questioning if there was any corruption at all in distributing 2G spectrum? All noise was created to unseat an elected government. The following points must be considered :
- if there was no corruption why Supreme Court cancelled licences?
- Why was Mr. A Raja, telecommunication minister, sacked?
- Why did Mr. A Raja serve jail term?
- Why did the then prime minister of India not stand up in parliament and declare his government is squeaky clean?
- Charge sheet for 2G scam, was filed in UPAII era. There was evidence in another scam, coal block allocation scam, a senior minister was caught dressing up chargesheet. There is no evidence, the same happened in 2G case.
- All said and done, a judge can pass judgement on evidence that is presented before it. If quality of evidence is poor, judgement that is pronounced will also be poor. Like Hafeez Saeed is declared innocent in 26/11 attack case by Pakistani court, becuause court could pronouce judgement on evidence that was presented to it. Similarly, our 2G accused are as innocent as Hafeez Saeed.
- I am hoping 2G verdict will be challenged
Many journalists and political commentators that are considering poor showing by BJP in Gujarat to be a moral victory for congress party. It is important to remember that unlike congress party that sacrificed Himachal Pradesh, BJP did not or could not give up on Gujarat despite all potential issues of anti-incumbancy, impact of GST and demonetisation. BJP won both Gujarat and Himachal. BJP also improved its vote share in Gujarat after two decades of governance. Say what anyone may, a real win on ground is always better than moral victory.
Finally, Mr. Rahul Gandhi may have done well in Gujarat. His real test will come when he defends a state where his party is ruling. By the way, Rahul Gandhi also has to prove his persuastion ability to convince big leaders from other states and regions, who may have prime ministerial ambition. To add to discomiture of Mr. Rahul Gandhi, his alliance partner Mr. Lalu Yadav has been convicted in fodder scam case. This will be a weapon in the hand of opponents of Mr. Rahul Gandhi.
Bitterly fought election campagin for Gujarat assembly is now over. Bitterness quotient of campaign has been high. Allegations had flown thick and fast. Competitors, ruling BJP and challenger Congress, had thrown every thing at each other viciously. Winner and losers will be decided by voters. Let us look at why Gujarat election was so bitterly fought.
Outcome of Gujarata state election may have the following long term consequences:
- Victory for congress lead opposition may galvanise other opposition parties in different states of India, to come together under one banner, for next general election barely a year away.
- Dislodging ruling party from fortress Gujarat may show that a different narrative of growth and development has takers in India.
- Chief general of opposition force, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, has recently got a promotion. Thre is murmur of dissent that elevation of more selection and less election. Coming on the back of string of defeats, win in Gujarat will strengthen Mr. Gandhi’s position in the party. A loss, however, give further strength to dissenting voices.
- Leader of opposition forces, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, has shed his reluctant politician image and shown a certain combative ability. From visuals projected on TV, there is no doubt he had asked right questions and people have listened. There is no denying it is easy to challenge performance of incumbent government that is on power for two decades. May be that is why opposition strategists had exposed their leader more in Gujarat election compared to Himachal pradesh, where they were ruling.
- If ruling party in Gujarat, BJP, can snatch a victory despite two decade long anti-incumbancy, it may vindicate prime minister Narendra Modi’s economic policy and spell a doom to opposition unity.
- If prime minister can sell his vision to one of the more prosperous states and that is highly business oriented, then he can realistically hope for a victory in next general election.
Pollsters believe, election this time will be much more competitive. Ruling party (BJP) may retain power, albeit with thinner majority. Some others like Mr. Yogendra Yadav, predict an outright victory for opposition. There is no doubt opposition campaign has caught traction in Gujarat election. Only time will tell, which narratives voters of Gujarat buy. Will Gujaratis vote against a fellow Gujarati prime minister?
I think, whatever may be the outcome of the election, BJP has less to lose compared to congress. Because BJP, the ruling party at the centre will in all likelihood retain control of same number of states, plus or minus one, if they manage to capture congress ruled Himachal Pradesh or lose BJP ruled Gujarat. It may be a matter of personal prestige of prime minister who had thrown his might behind winning his home state. Yes, there may be question on success of Gujarat model of development.
On the other hand, will result of Gujarat election be considered coming of age of Mr Rahul Gandhi, the President elect of congress party? There is no doubt, Mr Rahul Gandhi has shown combative trait, emerged from reluctant politician image, and asked many relevant questions. Many pollsters believe Congress campaign has seen traction. As described above, some believe congress may improve it’s tally of seats or may even score an outright victory in Gujarat. But it must be remembered that it is relatively easy to fight against two decades of anti-incumbancy. So far Mr Gandhi has been able to poke hole in ruling BJP agenda and claims. His own agenda, and success there of, will emerge only if Congress can retain Himachal Pradesh or Karnataka. May be that is why congress party elders have exposed Mr Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat campaign more, compared to Himachal Pradesh.
Billionaire business tycoon, Mr. Vijay Mallya, who ran an airline and a liquor business, defaulted on loans taken from nationalised banks in India. Amount of his due was believed to be upwards to 3000 crore rupees. Tycoon did not pay salaries to his airline employees, let alone the money that was due to banks. Finally, Mr. Mallya left with all his bags and baggages, twenty two large suitcases, in a private plane and settled in his mansion in London. Government of India is trying to bring him back to India to face trial. First hurdle being getting an UK court to let British government to pack Mr. Mallya off to India. Without going into intricacies of legalese, what has come to attention of a lay person like me is Mr. Mallya is contending that Indian prisons are not suitable to hold him. Mr. Mallya fears his life may be in danger in Indian prison.
My pure blue nationalist blood boils at such aspersions being cast against our jails. That too on a foreign soil. Though, Indian side has assured UK judge that Mr. Mallya will have good time in Indian jail, I think, it is time, Indian government must parade in front of UK court, the likes of
- Shri Lalu Yadav, Ex chief minister of Bihar, convicted in fodder scam;
- Ms Sasikala Natarajan, right hand person on Tamil Nadu chief minister convicted on disproportional wealth case;
- Mr. Subroto Roy, a billionaire chairman of Sahara India, very much like Mr. Vijay Mallya, arrested in chitfund scam;
- Mr. Suresh Kalmadi, sports minister accused of CWG scam;
- Mr. A Raja, ex telecommunication minister in UPA II government, accused of 2G spectrum distribution scam;
- Ms. Kanimoji, powerful daughter of DMK supremo, also accused in 2G spectrum scam.
These are only a few prominent names. Many others run a complete business empire from within jail with access to full privileges.
We must assert that if one has adequate money and access to power, both of which Mr. Mallya is not is short supply, one can have access to private toilet, personal office equipped with fax machine. Ask Mr. Subroto Roy, who owes a measly sum of 3000 crore to his clients. With adequate power, one may enjoy privilege of having snacks and chai with jail superintendent. Ask Kalmadi and A Raja. One may have a bungalow fitted with all amenities to rule a state, if you happen to be ex CM of a state. Ask Lalu ji. One may even go out for shopping, have a masseuse and home cooked food. Ask Ms. Sasikala Nagarajan.
Indian side must parade these worthies in London court to reassure the judge that Mr Mallya has nothing to fear. He may have his scotch whiskey, his mutton biriyani and a bevy of girls in attendance in jail. He will not have to face pesky reporters and answer their questions. In fact, Mallya will have a better life in jail, all expense taken care of by Indian tax payers. Is this not what is happening in London too?