War of words
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was upbeat after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said BJP state unit chief Manoj Tiwari will be the first to leave the national capital if the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is implemented in Delhi. Tiwari, a second-term Lok Sabha member from Delhi, hit back saying the remark exposed Kejriwal's "real face" and alleged that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief wants to evict migrants such as 'purvanchalis'. The term 'purvanchalis' denotes people from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and over the last couple of decades they’ve become a significant part of Delhi's electorate. Tiwari, a Bhojpuri actor and singer, alleged that Kejriwal "wants to remove people from Bengal, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and other states in Delhi". Assembly elections are due in Delhi in February. Meanwhile, the Congress continued to struggle to pick its state unit chief. With Ajay Maken ruling himself out, speculation is former Lok Sabha member Sandeep Dikshit could be in contention. Dikshit, son of Sheila Dikshit, met Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday.
Given the sad state of its organisational structure in Uttar Pradesh and the evident factionalism, even the most diehard Congressmen seem despondent about the party’s chances in the bypolls to the 11 Assembly seats scheduled for next month. Interestingly, senior Congress leaders have already started the process of ring-fencing the party’s general secretary in-charge of eastern UP, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, from any negative publicity following expected poll reverses. They have refuted the possibility of Priyanka campaigning for these polls, saying "national" leaders do not canvass for "local" elections. This, however, stands in contradiction to her spirited sit-in to highlight the Sonbhadra massacre case and her much publicised statement that she would continue to highlight people’s issues under the “anti-people” and “anti-poor” Adityanath dispensation.
Will he, won’t he
The Congress has planned padyatras across the country on October 2 to mark the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who has kept himself away from political work after the Lok Sabha poll debacle, is likely to be in Maharashtra's Wardha to lead the padyatra. The Mahatma set up his ashram in Sevagram, a village in Wardha, in 1936 and remained there until his death. There was apprehension in the Congress that Rahul Gandhi might not campaign for the party at all for the upcoming Assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana. However, his decision to lead the padyatra has made leaders hopeful that he might decide to begin his election campaign with the padyatra.