Elections in India are a special time when we get to see our political class up-close, when they choose to reveal a bit of themselves to the people. That is the only time when we see our leaders are somewhat like us, vulnerable and human as they interact with ordinary people, take up a one-hand push-up challenge, share a meal with us or join us in the ordinary chore of picking tea leaves. Yes, in the last few days we got a taste of Rahul Gandhi’s fetish for physical fitness ,witnessed Home Minister Amit Shah’s sharp ear for accuracy (of translation)in an unfamiliar language(Tamil) and Priyanka Vadra’s capacity to blend easily with the milieu be it Mathura or tea gardens of Assam
Yet the award for making the most awesome political statement of self-confidence or atma nirbharta will go to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
She was the first to get off the block with; release her list of candidates for 291 of 294 assembly seats that her party would be contesting –and that too all in one go .No cat and mouse game for her ; no waiting for the BJP list — her main challenger. More importantly she declared that she would take on her bête noire Suvendu Adhikari in his home turf Nandigram and wasn’t going even to take a chance by fighting from a second seat. Whether it was mere bluff and bluster or a very bold move, we will know only on May 2 when the results come in but must say the decision carries the risk of pinning Mamata down to Nandigram seat. After all she is the star campaigner of her party. Nonetheless, it helps in taking away a campaign point from the BJP against her . And perhaps that is the whole idea.
In contrast to fast paced development in West Bengal , in Tamil Nadu , the DMK- Congress alliance has been making slow progress in clinching seat sharing agreement . This even after dates have been announced for elections to the 234-member Tamil Nadu legislative assembly .” Nominations are opening from March 12. We have already signed a pact with three of our allies . It is only the Congress insistence on a certain number that is delaying it. We will fight the election together, ” assures a DMK leader. He insists that it is important for the DMK to fight at least 175 seats and the Congress must not hark on 2016 formula that it contested 41 seats and managed to win only eight seats.
Going by the strike rate of the Congress in Bihar, the DMK hasn’t been too keen to part with too many seats to its major ally. Besides , it seems the Congress also compounded its mistake by deputing its manager for Bihar elections, Randeep Singh Surjewala to negotiate with the DMK. It is being said that the Bihar performance of the Congress was repeatedly being brought up in DMK-Congress discussions, much to the irritation of Rahul Gandhi’s aides.
The DMK side which had deployed a veteran like former Union Minister T.R.Baalu and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi would have been more comfortable if they had to deal with senior Congress leaders such as Ghulam Nabi Azad or M.Veerappa Moily– both of whom are old Tamil Nadu hands. Unfortunately, both Azad and Moily were not involved in election matters as they belonged to the G-23 set of leaders. In a last minute effort at damage control, Moily has been deployed as an observer along with two other leaders in the state. ” We need to be in alliance with the DMK as much as they need us, ” admitted a senior Congress, debunking reports of the party exploring other possibilities. Election time– it is not just people, electoral allies also set new ground rules as the Congress learns in Tamil Nadu.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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