N or M

BY Darius Nakhoonwala| IN Opinion | 16/10/2007
The Congress is more worried about Mayawati than the nuclear deal. No edit writer mentioned this.
Darius Nakhoonwala on his favorite subject.

You don¿t say!
Darius Nahoonwala

Doubts as to who the real head of the government is were dispelled last week when Sonia Gandhi accused the Left of being enemies of development and said the Congress was prepared for elections ("We have to give them a strong and befitting reply"). When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had dared the left to "do it worst" people had reached for their salt dishes.
So, is it over for the UPA government or not? Pretty much, over, one must say but that is not the real question. The key question is when the next general election will be held: before or after the 2008 kharif. If they are held after, one can say the government served its full term, otherwise not.
Leader writers failed to pose this question and therefore told the reader what he already knew, namely, that the Congress-Left alliance had come unstuck. Talk about herd mentality and lack of original insights. 
The Times of India said Sonia Gandhi¿s "stepping in suddenly, with an uncharacteristically strong speech… suggests that the UPA-Left breach is beyond repair and the Left could vote to bring down the government over the issue." Yes, we knew that. The right is never in question, only the wisdom. 

The Hindustan Times, given where its sympathies lie, chose to divert the issue. The issue is not the election; it is whether the nuclear deal is a good thing or not. "What started with the cheerleaders of the  deal accusing the Left of holding the government to ransom (¿scrap the deal or else we will withdraw support¿) has now turned into the UPA government being seen as the folks with their fingers hovering on the ¿election¿ button... As for the prospect of untimely elections, one shouldn¿t make a deal that serves national interest so convincingly hang fire just because of the bogey of polls. It won¿t be the first time that polls will be thrust upon us. But it could be the last time that India gets an opportunity like the nuclear deal again."

The Pioneer was gleeful and gloating. "Ms Gandhi¿s comments on Saturday, reiterated with greater emphasis on Sunday, indicate that the game is up - the Left can go take a walk. For good measure, it has been suggested that those against the deal are "enemies of development"; earlier, Mr Manmohan Singh had made support for the deal into a test of patriotism. . If the Left had any sense of dignity, it would have distanced itself from the Congress and the UPA Government on Monday, rather than make a fresh effort to keep the arrangement from collapsing. By choosing not to do so, it has only reinforced the perception that, for a change, it is the Congress calling the shots while the Left is looking pathetic."

The Telegraph said "There is a point beyond which death cannot be deferred… the earlier the Congress goes to the people the better. The time has come to reiterate this position. The Congress and its allies need a fresh mandate from the people which will allow the UPA to be free from the pressure tactics of the CPI(M) and its ilk."
The Asian Age said. "The bells have started tolling for the coming national polls which now seem unavoidable." Yes, dear, but when?

And the Hindu and the Indian Express? Astonishingly, neither said anything at all. Now that takes some doing, you will admit.
And no one mentioned the M (Mayawati) factor at all. My guess is the Congress is more scared of her than it is of Mr Karat. The longer it holds off an election the more ground she will gain. But much is going to depend on the Gujarat election where she is fielding candidates in all constituencies.
So my prognosis is this: if she does well in Gujarat, the elections will be before the next kharif; if she does badly, they will be after.


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ET reports that the Congress party will  have a hyperlocal social media strategy for the forthcoming state elections. It says the Congress social media cell has "identified block level social media warriors" who will give feedback on community level issues to the party's social media  war room. Such as which local temples  with a particular caste following the Congress state unit chief should visit, or in which areas farm loan waiver schemes are going badly, giving the Congress an issue to raise.                    

Doordarshan interviewed  two BJP ministers in the afternoon about what they thought of Rahul Gandhi's speech during the no-trust motion, and why BJP MPs had felt the need to come outside Parliament and attack him. Ministers of state Ashwini Chaubey and Ram Kirpal Yadav answered at considerable length and were allowed to have their say. The reporter also asked one of them what he thought about RG's hugging the PM and he effectively snorted in disapproval. When a panel discussion began after this,  more leading questions from the news anchor about this 'jadu ki jhappi."  And more criticism followed.                        

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