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Gandhis suit BJP’s designs

opinionGandhis suit BJP’s designs

The Bharatiya Janata Party seems to have put its own strategy in place to counter any offensive from a collective Opposition ahead of the 2024 Parliamentary polls. With West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Maharashtra strongman Sharad Pawar amongst others making attempts to put together a Federal Front in place of the UPA, to take on the challenge from the saffron brigade, the BJP has chosen the easiest path to move ahead.
Most political analysts would agree that with the Congress unable to consolidate its position as the number one Opposition party after losing one state after the other, the Gandhis’ claim over the leadership role of the collective coalition, to take on the NDA, has been weakened.
Therefore, before the Opposition is able to declare its own face to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who would be seeking his third term, the BJP has got into the act to dictate the political narrative. Mamata Banerjee or any of the leaders of the regional parties is not suitable to the BJP’s way of doing things, so there has been a subtle but well thought through plan which seems to have been put into motion.
The Gandhis, who control the Congress politics, are most vulnerable at this juncture and it is unlikely that any of the three family members of late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi would be able to make their mark in Uttar Pradesh or win any seat from there in the next round of confrontation. The Gandhis and other opposition leaders are also aware of this, and taking advantage of the situation, the BJP knows how to score and divide its adversaries.
The latest attack on the Gandhis, Sonia Gandhi in particular, is precisely aimed at keeping them in public perception as the principal leaders of the opposition. The prolonged interrogation of Sonia Gandhi by the Enforcement Directorate, followed by her being accused by Union Ministers Smriti Irani and Nirmala Sitharaman as the person, who prompted Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, to make a sexist remark against the first tribal President, Droupadi Murmu is part of a larger blueprint.
It is evident to the BJP that Rahul Gandhi would not be acceptable to his own party activists which became clear when at least four leaders of the now defunct G-23, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Manish Tewari and Shashi Tharoor, who were absent when the former CP was being questioned, joined the agitation after Sonia Gandhi was summoned.
In other words, before the Congress gets cornered and is forced to surrender its leadership role of any proposed Federal Front, the BJP has consciously and deliberately decided to help Sonia Gandhi to resurrect herself. It is nobody’s suggestion that the Gandhis are hand in glove with the BJP, which they are obviously not. However, their being in the control of the Congress suits the saffron brigade more than anything else.
It should not be forgotten that in every election, the BJP surges ahead from the very beginning since it is pitted against the Congress in more than 200 seats in a direct fight. In this confrontation, the success rate of the BJP is very high as compared to its record when contesting against candidates of the regional parties. It is true that in Uttar Pradesh in particular, even the regional players could not do much in the 2019 elections but in other places, they did put out a semblance of a fight.
The Gandhis in public discourse are not as popular as they were in 2004 and 2009, and after the alleged involvement of the UPA government in multiple scams in the pre-2014 Lok Sabha battle, they have lost a lot of ground. They are perceived to be anti-Hindu and that is what the BJP has managed to tarnish them, even though they remain perhaps more secular than others in the political arena.
The other opposition players have also identified the weaknesses of the Gandhis and are convinced that they would not be able to help the Congress revive itself in the near future, and this would be at the cost of the opposition and to the liking of the BJP.
The TMC, which was emerging as a strong contender for the leadership role, has for the time being suffered a major setback, with senior functionary Partha Chatterjee’s alleged involvement in a major scandal, which has led to the recovery of over Rs 55 crore in cash and gold from the premises of his associate and companion. A shocked Mamata Banerjee is trying to control the damage, which could wreck her image if she does not do something expeditiously, even though she has removed her colleague from the posts he held. Partha has been Mamata’s oldest supporter and his being under the lens is something which would singe the West Bengal Chief Minister’s persona.
So far as Sonia Gandhi is concerned, her supporters may try to make it look like one woman versus the combined BJP, but this is not going to yield the desired results. When in July 2003, she had given a call for opposition unity against the BJP at the Shimla conclave, her image was untarnished. She was advised by some of the topmost political minds such as Arjun Singh, Pranab Mukherjee and M.L. Fotedar. This counsel is absent now and the likes of K.C. Venugopal lack the experience and political acumen.
The BJP realises that the projection of the Gandhis as its main adversaries suits its narrative. Between us.

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