Inside Track: Modi centrichttps://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/inside-track-modi-centric/

Inside Track: Modi centric

The spokespersons in the Congress media team,led by Ajay Maken,have been instructed to highlight Modi’s spurious claims and dwell on his chequered past.

Modi centric

A point of contention between the old-timers and the new generation in the Congress is whether Narendra Modi should be made the constant focus of attack in the electoral campaign. The spokespersons in the Congress media team,led by Ajay Maken,have been instructed to highlight Modi’s spurious claims and dwell on his chequered past. The old school believes that a Modi-centric approach in television debates is not advantageous to the Congress. It gives the Gujarat Chief Minister unnecessary publicity and will make him the central theme of the 2014 campaign. In contrast the earlier Congress media team led by Janaradhan Dwivedi made it a point to ignore Modi as far as possible.

Getting acquainted

Until recently,Jagan Mohan Reddy,the president of the YSR Congress,was familiar only with people from his former party,the Congress. Now convinced that he will be a major player in the formation of the next government in 2014,since his party is expected to perform very well in the Seemandhra region,Reddy has opened channels with almost all non-Congress players in the national polity. Reddy has met BJP president Rajnath Singh,JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav,CPM general secretary Prakash Karat,Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee,and BJD boss Naveen Patnaik.

Reddy also called on President Pranab Mukherjee. The meeting was to discuss the Telangana issue,but since Reddy was in jail for 16 months in a case of disproportionate assets,some question whether it was appropriate for the President to have granted Reddy an appointment.

Hotel in the news

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Two Central ministers attended Tehelka’s THiNK Fest in Bambolim,Goa,last month but a third,Jairam Ramesh,declined the invitation. As environment minister,Ramesh had opposed the construction of the Grand Hyatt Hotel,which was the venue of the festival,for alleged violation of environmental laws. The hotel’s promoters are Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka,both accused in the 2G scam. The charge of violation of CRZ notifications by the hotel is now in courts.

CM hopefuls

Encouraged by the high voter turnout in Chhattisgarh,the Congress is hopeful of a victory in the Assembly elections. And there are several already jostling for the chief minister’s chair. Ajit Jogi and PCC chief Charan Das Mahant are the obvious contenders for the job. Old warhorse Motilal Vora is also keen to throw his hat in the ring,as he hopes to remain relevant in politics and not be put out to pasture as a governor. But none of them may find favour with Rahul Gandhi,who is looking for a fresh face.

Breaking tradition

The unwritten law in the highly politicised Scindia royal family is that though members may contest from different parties,they do not campaign against one another. Jyotiraditya Scindia broke the convention when he entered Shivpuri,the constituency from where his aunt Yashodhara Raje Scindia is contesting,and campaigned there briefly. As the head of the Congress campaign committee in Madhya Pradesh,Jyotiraditya could not resist party pressure. Still he avoided mentioning the BJP candidate from Shivpuri by name.

Feminist ruse

The All India Mahila Congress organised a meeting with women NGOs to invite suggestions regarding issues relating to women which could be included in the party manifesto. The manifesto discussion was an excuse; the real purpose of the interaction was to recruit NGOs for a programme to present a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee protesting against the snooping operation apparently undertaken by then Gujarat minister of state,Home,Amit Shah against a young woman. Of the 46 NGOs expected to sign the petition,less than half showed up. Most of the bigger NGOs stayed away.

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