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Chinks in the Cong armour

Thursday’s clashes between Congress workers and the police outside the Orissa Assembly have yet again brought the limelight

Written by D K Singh |
September 10, 2012 3:41:13 am

Thursday’s clashes between Congress workers and the police outside the Orissa Assembly have yet again brought the limelight on a man who has been reviled by public at large for his various acts of omissions and commissions but in whom the Congress leadership seems to have immense faith — Jagdish Tytler.

While it was ironical that the Congress was protesting against the Naveen Patnaik government’s alleged involvement in mines and coal scams,an issue that has bedevilled the UPA regime,a bigger irony was the fact that protesters were led by Tytler who himself is under CBI scanner for his alleged links with arms dealer Abhishek Verma. Incidentally,another protagonist of the show,state Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik,had to resign from the JB Patnaik Cabinet in 1986 after the Orissa High Court described him as a “habitual bribe-giver” in a case relating to a mine he owns. These remarks were expunged later under Supreme Court directions. And these are the leaders the Congress is banking on to dislodge a well-entrenched Naveen Patnaik!

With the Orissa Police registering FIRs against him,Tytler may have further consolidated his position in the party because every controversy,every allegation against him has only brought rewards for him. A part of Sanjay Gandhi brigade in the late 70’s,Tytler’s political career had taken off after the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. He made it to Rajiv Gandhi’s Council of Ministers and to P V Narasimha Rao’s and then to Manmohan Singh’s from which he had to resign in 2005 following indictment by the Nanavati Commission. The CBI’s clean chit to him in 1984 riots and subsequent shoe-throwing incident involving P Chidambaram led to the denial of a Congress ticket to him in 2009. Within three months though,he was appointed AICC in-charge of Bihar. He was removed as Bihar in-charge in June 2010 only to be given the charge of Seva Dal. In the next AICC reshuffle in 2011,he got the additional charge of Orissa and was appointed Permanent Invitee to the Congress Working Committee.

Tytler’s case throws up many questions. Why is it that the Congress cannot dispense with a leader with a not-so-glorious past? There is nothing to write home about his administrative or organisational skills,nor does he have the mass base. If it is loyalty to the Nehru-Gandhi family,how was it earned? While there are no answers forthcoming,you can bank on the Congress to keep on sermonising about probity and propriety in public life.

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