On Modi’s campaign trail,friends turn foes

Ever since Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has been appointed as in-charge of the BJP’s party affairs in Maharashtra...

Written by Rakshit Sonawane | Published: March 5, 2009 11:53:21 pm

Ever since Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has been appointed as in-charge of the BJP’s party affairs in Maharashtra,he is moving around in the state addressing rallies and talking tough,as always. His image as a Hindu hardliner draws crowds and state BJP leaders are so happy over his appointment that leaders,like national general secretary Gopinath Munde,have started comparing him with the late Pramod Mahajan. In the process,however,the BJP’s ally — the Shiv Sena — is not comfortable with Modi. The Sena mouthpiece,Saamna,contained an editorial lambasting Munde for comparing Modi with Mahajan and pointed out that the BJP would never find a person like Mahajan,the architect of the Sena-BJP alliance in the state. Now,senior Sena leader and former Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi (who is,otherwise,known for circumventing inconvenient issues) has suddenly remembered (after five years) that he got defeated in the last polls,because after Modi campaigned for him,the Muslims did not vote. The moot question is why has the Sena started hating a Hindu hardliner like Modi? The possibilities are: either the Sena wants to dump the BJP or because it finds Modi too aggressive; or because Raj Thackeray,who has accused Gujarat of luring away industrial investments from Maharashtra,could use the Modi card against the Sena.

No barriers in Maya’s social engineering

After sweeping the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh,BSP chief Mayawati wants to become the prime minister and is eyeing Maharashtra to replicate her “Sarvajan Hitaya” experiment. In the last polls,the party had spoiled the winning chances of half-a-dozen Congress and NCP candidates,including NCP’s Praful Patel (who lost to BJP’s Shishupal Patle by a margin of 3,009 votes with the BSP candidate securing 90,672 votes) and Congressman Naresh Pugalia (who lost to BJP’s Jansraj Ahir by a margin of 59,919 votes as the BSP nominee fetched 1,04,416 votes). The BSP is now planning to field Brahmin candidates in Nashik,Pune,Beed and Aurangabad. It is also focusing on minorities and north-Indian migrants,apart from Dalits and OBCs.

Interestingly,keeping with its philosophy of ends justify the means,the party is in a no holds barred mode. It is planning to field gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli (who is the sitting MLA from Chinchpokli) as its candidate from Mumbai South-Central Lok Sabha constituency. Gawli is behind bars,charged under MCOCA for extortion.

Still divided,despite Chavan’s best efforts

After taking over the reins from Vilasrao Deshmukh,new Chief Minister Ashok Chavan is desperately attempting to placate warring groups within the Congress. He has expanded his Cabinet to induct rebel Congressman Narayan Rane (who was suspended after his outbursts against the high command for not making him the chief minister) and two others. But,it left Deshmukh (whose supporters were campaigning against the inclusion of Rane in the Cabinet) disappointed as he wanted his brother Dilip Deshmukh to be accommodated in the Cabinet. Hence,a day before the election code of conduct was announced,Dilip was sworn in as a minister. But that has not left everyone happy. Rane is still enraged because none of his supporters (who defected from Shiv Sena to Congress) were made ministers.

To add to his woes,enior Congressman and former PCC chief Govindrao Adik walked out of the party to join his friend Sharad Pawar,after writing a letter to Sonia Gandhi that Pawar should be the prime ministerial candidate and Rahul Gandhi should be put under Pawar’s training for five to 10 years so he could be groomed to take up higher political responsibilities.

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