Congress whirrs for reverse engineering of ‘haath ki safai’

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In the last Assembly elections in Manipur, the Congress leaders lament that the party was not able to campaign in the Kuki dominated region of the state which accounts for 20 seats.

Rahul Gandhi in Manipur

Rahul Gandhi in Manipur

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, January 15: There is a world of difference between print and television journalists – the former smoothens rough edges to spotlight truth while the latter loudmouths to steal sunshine from entertainers. Amid this harsh reality, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi launched his ‘Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra’ from Manipur.

Television anchor Rajdeep Sardesai ridiculed Gandhi on his day in Manipur by posting a photograph of Rahul loyalists in the erstwhile Manmohan Singh government. He captioned it, saying all but one from ‘Team Rahul’ have left. Sardesai was obviously spotlighting Milind Deora breaking 56-year of family ties with the Congress to join the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena.

Aditi Phadnis, former political Editor of Business Standard, wrote a column a fortnight ago which invited just over 1500 views from the Twitter handle of the newspaper. In the column headlined ‘When ethnicity & economy overlap’, Phadnis dwelt on the newly sworn-in Mizoram Chief Minister Lalduhoma carefully distancing the BJP from power in the state while also pursuing independent statecraft, including his opposition to centre’s bid to fence border with Myanmar.

A few of the journalists in Delhi, who were trained in the rough terrains of Manipur, Mizoram, and Nagaland, have been arguing in discussions that Chief Minister N. Biren Singh is now the most automous among his peers in the BJP. The Manipur chief minister, according to such journalists who remain anonymous, has taken such a Meitei shield that “Delhi cannot dare to touch him”.

In Nagaland and Meghalaya, the BJP by all accounts is an artificial partner of the ruling parties. These states in the Northeast are just a few dots in the political map of India. But they link up to the contrasting tales of the BJP and the Congress in the last decade.

In the last Assembly elections in Manipur, the Congress leaders lament that the party was not able to campaign in the Kuki dominated region of the state which accounts for 20 seats. Gandhi began his ‘Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra’ yesterday, vowing to get justice for the pain of Manipur.

Gandhi said: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi doesn’t have time to meet the chief minister of Manipur. He doesn’t meet the MLAs of Manipur.” His party leader Mallikarjuna Kharge, the president of the Congress, said: “The Prime Minister has time to go to beaches. But he doesn’t have time for Manipur.”

While Sardesai ridiculed Gandhi for going on another yatra while his old loyalist quit the party, the Congress is clearly whirring the reverse engineering of ‘haath ki safai’. It has tested the template in Telangana. The party is now taking it to the eastern parts of the country, as well as Andhra Pradesh.

A seasoned Bhubaneswar-based political journalist explains the winning streak of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to his art of ‘haath ki safai’. Patnaik nibbled away the rank and file of the Congress in the last two decades. K. Chandrashekhar Rao had done the same in Telangana. The BJP too gained from it in various parts of the country, including the Northeastern states. But Telangana showed the reverse engineering could whirr really too fast to take wind out of the sails of the BJP, which in the company of actors had been aiming to rule Hyderabad.

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