PC’s Official Blasphemy

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 27 Oct 2018 10:09:22


Chennai, October 22 (IANS): The Congress has not officially declared Rahul Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in which its main objective is to defeat the BJP and usher in a progressive Government at the Centre, senior party leader P. Chidambaram has said. The question of the Prime Minister is not the issue at all for the Congress, he told Tamil TV channel News18. “We will decide on the issue once the alliance wins. The alliance partners will sit and decide on it,” he said.

THIS is nothing but political fudging by Congress. This is obviously an effort to ensure that many possible allies did not go away irritated by the one-side declaration of Mr. Rahul Gandhi’s name as the prime ministerial candidate before a grand alliance is formed actually. And the manner in which the Congress has sought to do that indicates how desperate the party has become in a hurry to form an Opposition alliance. In all probabilities, all Opposition parties understand this very well, and are least likely to believe the Chidambaram refrain.

For the past few months, attempts to forge a grand Opposition pre-poll alliance had come to naught because of the several reservations most parties felt about the attitude the Congress party had been displaying. Most parties felt that the Congress was slighting them in terms of seat-sharing and also about the leadership issue. Though the Congress might not have said actually that Mr. Rahul Gandhi would be its official prime ministerial candidate, its methods were indicative enough about its intentions about Mr. Rahul Gandhi as the PM candidate. Cheesed off on the two counts, seat-sharing and PM candidate, most Opposition parties began withdrawing interest in formation of a grand pre-election alliance. The Chidambaram clarification must have become necessary in that light.

Yet, things are not likely to move in the right direction even after the clarification, and reasons could be many. One, no matter his or his party’s claims, Mr. P. Chidambaram no longer enjoys the credibility that he did earlier. Two, anybody and everybody could read between the lines in Mr. Chidambaram’s statement. And three, it is unthinkable that the Congress party could develop any alternative to a Gandhi when the party is indebted to the aristocratic style of the Gandhis and is under their influence.

Yet, as days and weeks and months passed, Congress party’s collective leadership started realising how difficult it was to find pre-poll partners to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. For, most parties in the Opposition camp felt it tiring even to think about the possibility of Mr. Rahul Gandhi being pushed into contention. Most meetings, dinners and public relations exercises kept proving fruitless, thus leading the Congress party to make Mr. Chidambaram issue a denial that could fudge the issue and defuse anxieties.

There should be no doubt that even Mr. Chidambaram is not very sure of what he said. Or, in other words, he knew what he was doing and was conscious that the party had chosen him to act as a facade to mislead other parties in the Opposition camp. Naturally, when such an attempt is made, others in the arena understand it quickly, as has happened in this case of Mr. Chidambaram issuing a denial in whose veracity no one has faith.

The reasons are simple and clear: Not just the Opposition parties but also the whole nation has known by now that the Gandhi family cannot survive without power. For them, pushing a Gandhi into a leadership position is an imperative, even though he may be absolutely incapable of offering a decent leadership to the friends. The Opposition leaders shuddered at any such possibility, and shunned alliance efforts. At any cost, they wanted to avoid Mr. Gandhi.

However, let us not miss the fact that the biggest irritant is not Mr. Rahul Gandhi; it is the ambitious men and women in other parties. For, women like Ms. Mamata Bannerjee, Mr. Chandrababu Naidu, Mr. Akhilesh Yadav or Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav or Ms. Mayawati also form the other end of the paradoxical continuum of the political divide in the Opposition camp. When so many persons aim to become Prime Minister and only one could be chosen for the post, then a feud is the only expectation from the camp. The so-called denial of the Congress party about candidacy of Mr. Gandhi is an indication of how things are getting messy.  But then, this has been the story all along of the non-BJP parties not for now but all along in long decades of battles of attrition.

It is more than crystal-clear to the Opposition as well as the nation that the Congress will never give up the claim of Mr. Rahul Gandhi as a prime ministerial candidate. And that move was unwelcome to others became clear when Mr. Sharad Pawar, the big boss of the Nationalist Congress Party, insisted that the better way of doing things was to avoid making any pre-poll alliances and deciding upon a prime ministerial candidate. By that way of suggestion, Mr. Pawar was trying to stress that if the Opposition parties collectively garner numbers, then a post-poll alliance, too, could be made to work. And in that case, all pre-poll ideas would be meaningless.

The top leadership of the Congress party is not foolish not to understand the fine print in Mr. Pawar’s statement. The Chidambaram statement appears to come as a belated but properly-deliberated response to all those possibilities. But let us make no mistake that people would believe it. For, everybody in politics knows that Mr. Chidambaram’s statement was an officialised blasphemy, if one chooses to use the word, only possibly to fudge the issue and mislead possible allies into believing something untrue.