Congress claims opposition space in UP as Priyanka wins hearts
The Congress has clearly scored over both the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on the migrant crisis in Uttar Pradesh. It has emerged as the face of the opposition in the state with its aggressive posturing against the ruling BJP led by Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath. Significantly, the Congress general secretary and younger of the Gandhi scions, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, has finally left a strong imprint on the political clay of India’s most populous and volatile state, and has displayed leadership skills that have been sorely lacking in the party horizon for a while. Priyanka Gandhi’s firm but polite overture to the migrant labourers stuck in UP borders and yearning to go back to their home towns in the middle of the nationwide coronavirus lockdown has struck a chord with millions. Gandhi insisted that the Yogi Adityanath government allow her party to ply 1000 buses with migrant workers from UP’s borders back to their homes across the state.
However, the state government denied permission to the buses on technical grounds. The Congress claimed that the BJP has been rattled by Priyanka Gandhi’s stand and hence obstructed her attempt to help migrant workers. While the BJP and the Congress slugged it out in the open, the two regional parties SP and BSP watched the development from a distance. It’s quite obvious that the Congress has grabbed the opportunity to occupy the near-vacant opposition space in UP, with BSP supremo Mayawati too reluctant to meaningfully intervene and SP chief, Akhilesh Yadav, preferring to wage mere virtual war from the safe distance of social media. The emergence of Priyanka Gandhi in the political vacuum of the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP ruled Uttar Pradesh is a fascinating development, since Gandhi’s political messaging of compassion and justice for migrant workers has not gone unnoticed. Priyanka Gandhi’s model of strong leadership with a heart is already being touted as a possible alternative to Yogi Adityanath in UP.
Mayawati praises Yogi, Centre; Blames Congress for migrants’ plight
Ever since the BJP came to power in Uttar Pradesh in early 2017, the BSP supremo Mayawati has kept her silence on the issues of Dalits, Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), and even the coronavirus lockdown. However, the eerily quiet leader has come out of the woods to praise Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, for bringing back the students from Kota, Rajasthan. In fact, Mayawati now is busy criticizing the Congress on the issue of migrant labourers and she is supporting the stance of the Centre as well as the state BJP, despite the flurry of news reports of the pitiful condition of the jobless millions stuck in their cities of work ended by the lockdown. Amusingly, Mayawati even blamed the Congress for the very sad condition of migrant workers across the country, while apportioning some blame on the Rajasthan government for demanding the payment of buses for the students who were being transported to UP. Mayawati has also announced that her party will fight in all 24 by-election seats in Madhya Pradesh, and according to observers, BSP will definitely dent the votes of Congress, thus helping the BJP.
Confusion over BJP’s Rajya Sabha nominations from Rajasthan
The three vacant Rajya Sabha seats from Rajasthan for which the elections were to be held have had their polls postponed by the Election Commission owing to the coronavirus crisis. In fact, initially Congress had filed the nomination for two Rajya Sabha seats and the BJP had filed only one — that of former minister and vice president of state BJP unit, Rajendra Gehlot. However, at the last moment, the BJP filed a second nomination, that of Onkar Singh Lakhawat, thus forcing the election. It must be noted that while BJP is now contesting in two Rajya Sabha seats, it has only 76 MLAs in the state and 51 MLAs are required for winning one Rajya Sabha seat. On the other hand, Congress has filed nomination for two candidates—KC Venugopal and Neeraj Dangi, a former Rajasthan Youth Congress chief— and has the strength of 107 MLAs on its own as well as the support of independent and RJD MLAs. At the time of nomination of Congress candidates, Chief Minister, Ashok Gehlot and Deputy Chief Minister, Sachin Pilot were present with full strength. On the other hand, when Onkar Singh Lakhawat of the BJP was filling his nomination, neither the leader of opposition Gulab Chand Kataria, nor former Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje, was present. Everybody, even in the BJP, seemed to be wondering why the party has filed the second candidate nomination, when their strength of MLAs is only 76 in the house.
Bengal reels under cyclone Ampahan impact amid TMC-BJP face off
West Bengal remains on the boil post Cyclone Amphan, as neither the TMC nor the BJP is losing any chance to indulge in one-upmanship, whether it is on the matter of coronavirus or any religious issue. According to the BJP, their West Bengal unit chief Dilip Ghosh was prevented from visiting a cyclone-hit area even for a day before CM Mamata Banerjee warned her party workers not to do politics at this time of unprecedented crisis. The BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said that if there was no politics at play, then why was the BJP state president stopped from visiting an affected area? Sinha also noted that the administration did not stop the CPI(M) leader Kanti Ganguly from visiting that area. According to TMC sources, Dilip Ghosh was stopped because of Covid-19 protocol of maintaining social distancing and Ghosh’s presence would have led to gathering of a crowd. This bitter political fighting in the state between the TMC and the BJP is because the Assembly elections are due next year, 2021. The tension escalated in April after the Centre blamed the West Bengal state government for ‘mismanagement’ of Covid-19 situation. It must be noted that the BJP emerged as TMC’s principal opponent in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when it got 18 of out of 42 seats from the state. Meanwhile, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury claimed that the Rs 1000-crore assistance that the Prime Minister announced during his visit is grossly insufficient for the state.
Yediruppa tightens hold on his government
The Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has been tightening his grip over the government in the last few months. Since taking over power by toppling the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition, Yediyurappa was thought to be a chief minister who couldn’t bridge the gap. But the Covid-19 pandemic has allowed the Lingayat strongman much leeway. So much so that he has started openly chiding hardliners.