ArpitGarg's Weblog

An opinion of the world around me

Strokes of a Political Genius

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Indian politics has always excited me. From time to time we come across political news that makes headlines. Some of them are really special. They involve a showstopper and work of shrewd political genius. How the masters of the game are able to come out of it with flying colors makes the crux of a great politician. The top three that I observed during recent years are as below:

1.    Mulayam Singh and Nuclear Deal
During UPA-I Congress was struggling to get the nuclear deal passed. PM had stated that theirs was not a one-point-understanding with the allies (presumably the Left). When Left decided to part ways, it seemed all but over as far as the deal was concerned. Just then Congress received support from unexpected quarters. Mulayam Singh who had always lambasted Congress and BJP for Babri demolition and undermining Muslim interests came to the rescue. There was a bottleneck though. BSP projected the deal as anti-Muslim and there was a threat of SP losing Muslim votes which were its bread and butter in UP.

It looked a Catch-22 situation for Mulayam Singh. He stated that his party would be taking an independent advice from the experts as per the viability and usability of the deal. They could confirm anything only after the said advice. It didn’t seem enough. If he supported the deal, BSP was bound to make it difficult for SP to hold the Muslim votes. A lost battle.

Mulayam then showed why is he the gladiator of Indian politics. Next day, papers were filled with details of the meeting between APJ Kalam and Mulayam Singh. Kalam like any other scientist and expert was expected to support the deal and he did. It was a master move by Mulayam. He brought in a Muslim expert to counter the threat to Muslim vote. Support of Kalam countered any threat by BSP. Clean Sweep.

2.    Sharad Pawar, Congress and Price Rise
The issue unfolded over the last few weeks. Spiraling prices of food items left Congress with little space to breath. Government of the Aam aadmi was seen as a pickpocket. Congress diverted the blame to Pawar. He was after all the agriculture minister. There were noises from Congress calling him a direct beneficiary of spiraling sugar prices. The Sugar King! Pawar never likes to be cornered. There was a need to shut the Congress up, which he also perceived as a threat to the solidarity of NCP. There have been overtones from State Congress from time to time to assimilate NCP and Congress. There was an urgent need for a master stroke. But what?

The genius of Pawar came into play. He took advantage of being involved with cricket and being the ICC President in waiting. Shiv Saina, which had almost given up on opposing entry to Aussie cricketers in Mumbai, was used as a pawn. Pawar took BCCI chief and met Thackeray at his residence. Gave a presentation and asked him to allow Aussies in Mumbai.

What it did was to give credence to Shiv Sena, undermining the authority of State Congress. The coalition party chief himself questioned the authority of the CM. Congress backed off immediately giving Pawar latency to tackle opposition over the price rise.

3.    Rahul Gandhi and The Mumbai Local
Rahul Gandhi proclaimed from Delhi that Mumbai was for all Indians. It created ruckus across the party lines in Maharashtra. A kid from Delhi trying to dictate to Mumbai. How dare he? Shiv Sena protested hard against Rahul Gandhi and tried to project him as an enemy of Marathi Manoos, successfully enough. Rahul was viewed as a Delhi lad who lacked courage to take on Sena in Mumbai.

Rahul arrived in Mumbai. Changed his travel plans at the last moment, boarded the local and mingled with the commuters. He travelled to Dadar into the Sena’s bastion and at one go, Sena stood defeated. His Mumbai local trip took everyone by surprise. He showed courage. Dared to go the extra mile. He was admired by Marathi Manoos. “My father was born in Mumbai, my mother in Italy, my great grandfather in Allahabad, and I live in Delhi. Where should I say I belong to?” He floored even the skeptics. The Sena Bastion stood demolished.

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