By now it is clear that the BJP is not going to declare a Chief Minister candidate for the coming Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh elections. The Prime Minister has held around 11 rallies in Rajasthan already with Vasundhara Raje on the dais, where she has not been given an opportunity to address the crowd. In fact soon after the Women’s Reservations Bill was passed it was Lok Sabha MP Diya Kumari who was given a more prominent role at the PM’s rally than Vasundhara Raje. Ditto for Shivraj Singh Chauhan who has shared the dais with the PM and Home Minister Amit Shah, with the duo keeping mum on his chief ministerial future. As for Raman Singh, he has been sidelined ever since the last Assembly elections in 2018 and it’s unlikely that he will be pulled out of the mothballs now. Instead the principle of collective leadership is being touted and several Union Ministers are being fielded in both the states. But Vasundhara for one will not go down without a fight, especially if the BJP does not get a comfortable majority in Rajasthan. Then it would be difficult to ignore her claims as she has the potential to form a breakaway faction.
Reshuffle at Akbar Road?
Will Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge undertake an organisational reshuffle soon? He has formed the new Working Committee and reshuffled most of the state in-charges. What is left is the administrative hierarchy at 24 Akbar Road including the general secretaries, treasurer and the media department. There is a buzz that Kharge is looking for a new treasurer and will also implement changes in the media department. The appointment of current treasurer Pawan Bansal was largely seen as a stop gap replacement after the sudden demise of Ahmed Patel in November 2020. Jairam Ramesh, the current head of the communication department, has certainly energised the Congress’ media presence with an aggressive push, taking on detractors and also putting out the party’s point of view in real time on social media. His comments are pithy and well researched. However, he may be drafted for the 2024 election preparations, either in the manifesto committee or the campaign strategy. Don’t forget the importance of the right slogan: in 2004 the catchy Congress Ka Haath, Aam Admi Ke Saath totally decimated the BJP’s India Shining claim—and Jairam was part of the war-room team that finetuned that campaign. The question is who will Kharge bring in to replace Jairam: or will he promote someone from within the media department?
Will Mayawati join the I.N.D.I.A bloc?
The BSP is sitting on the fence as far as the I.N.D.I.A bloc is concerned, sparking off speculation that Mayawati could join the BJP. Certainly she has been supporting the BJP on crucial bills in Parliament and not voting with the opposition bloc. However, there is a danger that her vote bank could shift away from her to the Samajwadi Party as is what happened in the Ghosi byelection recently. Will this force her to rethink her options and once again throw in her lot with the rest of the opposition including the Samajwadi Party—and if so, how will Akhilesh Yadav react?