Cong won't name its biggest challenge!

Modi is party's Voldemort, who cannot be mentioned

bhavdeepkang

Bhavdeep Kang | January 21, 2013


Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi

Like arch-villain Voldemort in the Harry Potter series, Narendra Modi was “he-who-must-not-be-named” at the Congress shivir in Jaipur. For, like Voldemort, the very mention of the man appears to send shivers down the collective spine of the Congress brass (with a few notable exceptions).

More from Chintan Shivir: Rahul gives Congress new mantra: continuity with change!

Modi's name was not mentioned at all during the course of discussions at the chintan shivir, Congress leaders were at pains to tell the media. He did not come up even during the in camera discussions on “Emerging Political Challenges”. But the very silence brought Modi into sharper focus.

Privately, Congress leaders acknowledged that Modi was perhaps the biggest “emerging political challenge” for the party. However, while some felt the BJP would never allow Modi to take the centre stage, others said pitting him in a direct battle with Rahul Gandhi would work to the Congress advantage. Firstly, because the NDA might well split along “secular” lines and secondly, because Modi's appeal was limited to Gujarat and it was high time that this was exposed.

It was left to the Congress master blaster Mani Shankar Aiyer to articulate this viewpoint. After having famously referred to Modi as “lahu purush (blood man)” during the Gujarat election campaign, he told reporters at the shivir that Modi would trigger the NDA's collapse. “I want Modi to become their leader because if a communal leader who is anti-poor is leader of the opposition, our victory is guaranteed”.

The other Congress leader to mention Modi was AICC general secretary Digivjay Singh, who - like Aiyer - enjoys a reputation for shooting his mouth off first and answering questions later. Singh noted Modi's prowess as a communications tactician, pointing out that he ran a social media management centre at Ahmedabad. The Congress was trying to find ways of counteracting it, he added.

Delegates criticised the fact that the secular versus communal issue did not figure prominently either in the speeches of its leaders, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, or during discussions.

Fear of “NaMo” was evident in the new-found focus on the urban middle-class, a hard core constituency of the Gujarat chief minister. The educated middle class' disenchantment with prime minister Manmohan Singh, whom they had wholeheartedly endorsed in 2009, is evident in the public protests against corruption and gender violence. Winning this demographic back, particularly the youth among the urban educated middle-class, has become a priority for the Congress.

But the most clear evidence of NaMo-phobia was Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde's speech at the chintan shivir, launching an inane attack on the BJP and RSS for running “Hindu terror” camps. The allegation, coming as it did immediately after Rahul Gandhi was formally anoninted party number 2, was totally out of context. One reporter, tongue-in-cheek, asked Shinde if he would ban the RSS as a terrorist outfit. The home minister had no reply.

The Congress leadership chose to fire its guns against Modi from Shinde's shoulder. It was sabre-rattling of the most transparent kind, a warning that if Modi were to take on a pivotal role in the BJP, the central government would seek to undermine him.

Comments

 

Other News

Improving livelihood with financial access is the task ahead

“Demonetisation has created an entire system of digitisation and financial inclusion,” said PK Gupta, managing director (Retail and Digital Banking), State Bank of India, at the launch of the Governance Now India Financial Inclusion Case Book in Mumbai on Friday. He further stated though there

How Bhutan is enuring food security

When Bhupen Gurung from the Royal University of Bhutan told the audience at the TERI School of Advanced Studies, New Delhi, about dropping levels of poverty in Bhutan, many public policy academicians were left intrigued. Coming from the ‘Land of Happiness’ (Bhutan ranked 97 among 155 countr

Uncivil servants

An IPS officer of Tamil Nadu cadre holding the post of assistant superintendent of police was caught cheating, using high-tech gadgets, while appearing in the IAS examination in October, as was widely reported in the media. The case has shaken the conscience of the enlightened citizenry and shows the rot t

Manufacturing will remain dark horse for economy: Niti Aayog expert

Manufacturing will remain the dark horse for the Indian economy, especially as labour-intensive industries shift from China, writes Sukhgeet Kaur, director, project appraisal and management division, Niti Aayog in an official

The un-importance of being Pravin Togadia

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) working president Pravin Togadia is in the news after a long time. This week, Togadia went `missing` for an entire day as the Gujarat and Rajasthan police were on the lookout for him, arrest warrant in hand. Togadia was later brought to a hospital in an unconscious state. At a p

Confused signals

Of late, there have been some anxious moments for broadcasters and no one knows where it’s been coming from, and why it’s happening. For starters, the ministry of information and broadcasting is the licensor for TV channels, in two categories: (i) news and current affairs (&lsquo

Current Issue

Current Issue

Video

CM Nitish’s convoy attacked in Buxar

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter