Saturday, January 12, 2019

Sheila Dikshit's Selection Shows Lack of Choices

The appointment of Delhi former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as Head of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee comes as a very disappointing decision. It shows that Congress leadership is bereft of choices and has to fall back on old guards. This was evident in choosing choosing Kamal Nath as the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and Ashok Gehlot as CM of Rajasthan. In an era where young voters are going to determine the future of majority of candidates in the ensuing Loksabha elections, choosing choosing 18 year old Sheila Dikshit will not help attracting the youngsters in any particular manner.

Sheila Dikshit, three times CM of Delhi, was appointed the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president on Thursday. She will replace Ajay Maken who had resigned from the post citing ill-health a few days ago. However in the political circles it is widely speculated that he made way for the new president to facilitate an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party. P. C. Chacko, the in-charge of the party's Delhi unit, made the announcement. He said that Dikshit would be assisted by three working presidents -- Devender Yadav, Haroon Yusuf and Rajesh Lilotia.

In a true Congress fashion, Maken congratulated Dikshit. "Congratulations and well wishes to Sheila Dikshit on being appointed as president of Delhi Congress. I had the opportunity to work and learn under her as a parliamentary secretary and as a cabinet minister. I believe under her leadership we will play the role of a powerful opposition against Modi+Kejriwal governments," Maken tweeted.

However, Sheila Dikshit will be hard pressed to infuse life in an almost dead party organization still reeling under the shock of defeat in Delhi. She is old and is not supposed to provide dynamic leadership that Congress requires at the moment. The Congress veteran was made the Chief Ministerial candidate for the Uttar Pradesh elections but it didn’t yield any worthwhile results for the Grand Old Party of India. Granted, Sheila Dikshit is the longest serving Chief Minister of Delhi, serving for a period of 15 years from 1998 to 2013 and she led Congress party to three consecutive electoral victories in Delhi; that is a past now. It is true that leaders seldom retire in Indian politcs, but to expect same performance from the octogenarian politcian will be nothing less than a cruelty.

It was Sheila Dikshit who was the CM of Delhi when infamous Nirbhaya episode happened that damaged Congress's reputation for a good part. The Congress at the time was always on the backfoot and its leadership was lusterless. A kind of fatigue caughts up with the cadres and Congress gradually lost its footing in the competitive politics between BJP and the AAP.

The need of the hour, for Congress, is a young and suave leader who could talk youths in their own language. Especially, when a large section of media is playing cheer girls for Rahul Gandhi, and a perception is being built that the party is on pheonix-like rise under his leadership, this was the least that he could do. Thus, he could ensure that the party would cover lost ground in the political epicentre of India.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Flogging a Dead ‘Rafale’ Horse: Rahul Gandhi Refuses to Mend Ways

Even after receiving severe admonition from the court, Congress dynast Rahul Gandhi refuses to mend his ways. He continues to flog a dead horse in the form of Rafale deal and hopes to gain windfall by raking up this issue in the run up to the impending Lok Sabha elections.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid Rs 20,000 crore to France's Dassault Aviation even though it has not delivered a single Rafale jet, but refuses to pay the dues of the Indian aerospace major.

Gandhi scion’s attack two days after Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman ripped apart arguments in heated debate in the Lok Sabha. The Defence Minister gave a spirited reply and refused all charges leveled by Rahul Gandhi. A day prior to that, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley buttressed the government’s stand that the multi-billion deal with French fighter jet manufacturer was in the nation’s interest.

Yet, Rahul Gandhi, who has professed his readiness to become future prime minister, hangs on the already weak branch in the form of Rafale deal. On Tuesday, he accused the Modi government of weakening public sector undertaking Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and destroying India's strategic capability to benefit industrialist Anil Ambani.

"The PM pays 20,000 Cr. to Dassault before a single RAFALE is delivered but refuses to pay HAL 15,700 Cr. it is owed, forcing it to borrow 1,000 Cr to pay salaries," Gandhi tweeted. "Meanwhile, the RM (Raksha Mantri) spins lie after lie but cannot answer my questions," he said according to PTI. 

The Congress and the BJP-led NDA government have been involved in a war of words after a media report claimed that HAL, grappling with low finances, was forced to borrow Rs 1,000 crore to pay salaries to its employees, for the first time in years.

BJP Modi Rafale

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government has accused the Congress of not supporting HAL during its rule and asserted that the government is now strengthening the defense public sector undertaking.

Since the court having settled this matter decisively, the Congress scion’s attempt to malign NDA government and especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whom Rahul have personally targeted on many occasions, seems to be futile.

The Supreme Court on December 13 dismissed all the pleas challenging the deal between India and France for procurement of 36 Rafale jets saying there was no occasion to "really doubt the decision making process" warranting setting aside of the contract. The apex court also rejected the pleas seeking lodging of an FIR and the court-monitored probe alleging irregularities in the Rs 58,000 crore deal, in which both the countries have entered into an inter-governmental agreement (IGA).

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi dealt with "three broad areas of concern" raised in the petitions -- the decision making process, pricing and the choice of Indian offset partners (IOP) -- and said there was no reason for intervention by the court on the "sensitive issue" of purchase of 36 jets.

The court’s verdict helped clear the air which was beyond doubt in the first place. All the experts and defence analysts had put their weight in favor of the Modi government. But, Congress and its coterie is not satisfied even after the apex court of the country outspoken in no unclear terms. It seems that the liberal camp is bent on creating confusion in the country to achieve their goals. Thankfully, people are not mislead by search tactics in this age of social media and free information. Therefore, Rahul crusade on Rafale will remain grounded and not take off as the liberal camp envisages.