No blame attachedhttps://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/no-blame-attached/

No blame attached

In the sycophantic Congress,a Gandhi is above reproach.

No blame attached

Rahul Gandhi and Nitin Gadkari have something in common. Neither of them is being held accountable by their respective parties for the poor showing in UP,even though both led from the front and micromanaged the strategy. In the sycophantic Congress,a Gandhi is above reproach. While followers of Narendra Modi and LK Advani believe that the result might have been different if they had been closely associated with the campaign,this is not the view of the RSS. The RSS was actively involved in the campaign with sangh pracharak Sanjay Joshi in charge,and it is hardly likely to indict itself.

The indications are that the RSS is pleased with Nitin Gadkari and plans to let him continue as party president when his term expires at the year-end. This will mean a change in the party constitution. The other key question is whether Joshi,despite his failure in UP,will be made party organising secretary. That would be one more rebuff to Modi.

Communication gap

Pankaj Pachauri,the PM’s communication adviser,has moved into the office of Harish Khare,the former media adviser to Manmohan Singh. This indicates that there is going to be no replacement for Khare,even if Pachauri’s designation is differently worded.

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The PM’s three successive media advisers,Sanjaya Baru,Khare and Pachauri,all placed their desks in

different positions from their predecessor. It is not clear whether Vaastu was behind the rearrangement of furniture. Incidentally,there have already been some hiccups in Pachauri’s new communication strategy for the PMO. When the PM invited suggestions on twitter for the 12th plan,the PMO received a deluge of mail most of which was irrelevant and included a large number of hate messages.

Secretly pleased

Not everyone in the Congress is unhappy with the poor showing in UP. Indeed,the coterie around Sonia Gandhi is secretly pleased. After the UP debacle,it is unlikely that Rahul Gandhi and his young Turks would take over the reigns of the government and party just yet,so there is no immediate threat to the old guard. When the media met some of the older generation on counting day,they seemed relaxed and unperturbed and used the opportunity to criticise Digvijay Singh for misguiding the heir apparent.

Faceless campaign

The BJP campaign in Uttar Pradesh was uncharacteristically low profile since the party was not in a position to project any single individual as its chief ministerial candidate. It was the media desperately looking for a face for the BJP campaign,which plumped for Uma Bharti. Incidentally,despite the prominence given to Bharti and tainted former BSP minister Babu Singh Kushwaha,the BJP managed to win only three out of 19 seats in Bundelkhand. (The silver lining was that the party’s vote share in the region increased substantially from 2007.) The BJP did not even project any particular leader at the national level. It was reduced to putting up posters of Atal Behari Vajpayee,when it is widely known that the aged patriarch is bedridden and in no position to play any role in the campaign.

Verma’s zero return

The early bird gets the worm and unlike the Congress and the BJP,the SP and the BSP selected their candidates for the assembly elections over a year in advance. The SP had the advantage over the BSP since the imperious Mayawati frequently changed prospective candidates. Some of the BSP’s rejected candidates joined the SP and were victorious. At least two former BSP candidates from Bulandshahr and one from Gorakhpur won on the SP ticket. Kurmi leader Beni Prasad Verma,who was formerly with the SP,was given a major say in the allotment of tickets for the Congress much to the annoyance of old timers in the party. Verma inducted a large number of SP rebels but none of his candidates was victorious,including his own son.