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Monday, May 11, 2009

Looking beyond MMS

For the past 24 hours, the political grapevine in Lutyens' Delhi has been buzzing with the news that the Congress is readying with an alternative to Manmohan Singh. The assumption is that if the Congress doesn't perform too well, it must be ready with a name who can command more support than a Third Front candidate. More particularly the Congress wants someone who can out-Pawar Sharad Pawar.

The name doing the rounds is the ever-faithful Sushil Kumar Shinde from Sholapur. Shinde fulfills all the criteria:

  • He is unquestioningly loyal to the owners of the Congress Party
  • Coming from Maharashtra, he can undercut Pawar's Marathi manush claims. Maybe the Shiv Sena will support him (or not oppose him).
  • He is a Dalit and the Third Front parties will not risk opposing a Dalit. The Congress can hog the credit for being the party that installed the first Dalit PM.

The detractors say that Shinde is a non-starter. They point to an emerging controversy arising out of Pune (this part is deliberately cryptic as I have no means of checking the credibility of scurrilous whispers).

Politically, the floating of Shinde's name suggests that there is a powerful section of the Congress that will not abdicate the post of Prime Minister at any cost.

Let us see if other names emerge in the next four days.

Postscript: MMS isn't going to yield ground so easily. He and his supporters believe that the Congress has secured a lot of incremental middle class votes in the metros (particularly Delhi) because of his "benign" presence. There is also a feeling that he has added to the pro-Congress mood in Punjab. But the Left is implacably hostile to him. This may explain his "forgive and forget" overture to the Left on the final day of campaigning.


Anonymous said...

Knowing your love for the Queen's English, it should be 'fulfills all the CRITERIA'

Anonymous said...

Wow! Congress will never accept defeat!

But you haven't calculated the unlikelyhood of Congress installing Marathis in both the PM and President's chairs.

So Shinde seems a good choice by the criteria you've listed, but this could work against him.

Ashish said...

Any chance of the good ol' media speculating on this, when they spent most of the last 10 days speculating on whether Nitish would jump from the NDA?

charuvak said...

If Congress plans to hold onto the PM post, with such (f)rigid position will any of the prospective partners wanna do business with the party ?

May be this means the chances for BJP led NDA are getting better day by day. Wishful thinking makes you feel good!

All kidding aside, love to see Advaniji become the PM for a change.

Swapan Dasgupta said...

Anonymous is quite right, it should read criteria (in the plural). Thanks for pointing it out. Correction made.

Venkatesh said...

Completely OT,

Strange that more NRIs visit your site than Indians? I wonder why?

Venkatesh said...

Swapan Da,

Your comments are invigorating. One question is why is the BJP not challenging the concept of secularism in every programme that they are labelled as communal. They should have a pretty long list against the commies. So every time any of the panelist or hosts mention, they should be kept coorecting. if they do that the programmes will get so drab that the media houses will stop using terms like this. A perfectly non-violent way of putting NDTV and ilk in place

Return_of_Chanakya said...

For NDTV like propaganda show, may be BJP should think of boycotting them. In USA this treatment was tried last time by democratic party against FOX. I think BJP takes abuses from NDTV and all too mildly. It is standard practice in western media (Nytimes and all) to constantly right BJP as right-wing extremist party. Just stop entertaining such journalists for a year and they will amend their ways. BJP is too big and powerful for them to completely ignore it.
Swapan da, M.M. Shinde is in deed a dark horse. However, if left remains in a bargaining position they will try to save their face by trying to install someone who is more favorable to them. At this point sycophant like Mani Shankar Aiyar has a better chance.

ayush said...

Swapan Da,

great to see the frequency of your blogs increasing by the day, i cant wait for more from you.

theres not much doubt left that the congress has become desparate, i feel they are shit scared of the prospect of an NDA govt going about finding all the Swiss Bank accounts of all the congressis including the "parivar" , they just cant risk that

Anonymous said...

All this talk is meaningless if on 16th May, neither the Left or Congress has the numbers/

NR said...

Swapan Da,

Dont you think Shinde is a too risky name for congress. It can hand BSP on a platter to NDA. The moment mayawati gets a whiff of this attempt by congress she is likely to declare unconditional support to NDA to ensure that she is in chance to become countries first dalit primeminister if not now some time later.

Anonymous said...

Swapan Da,

won't having a marathi President AND a marathi PM become an issue.

Add to that the likelihood of Sharad Pawar hogging some important ministry and we may have other states objecting to this arrangement.


Prakash said...

Shinde's name has been floated previously, but did not get much traction.
How about Meira Kumar? Wouldn't that fulfill Mayawati's demand?

Anonymous said...

If BJP forms government and doesnt throw this NDTV and ibnlive wala padmashrees to jail,, I am never voting for BJP again!! Plese convey this to Advaniji......

Soham Das said...

Shopon babu,

Its nearing 3 in the morning,yet I had to have one last glimpse of this blog before I sleep.

Fantastic articles from Center-Right.


charuvak said...

After NDA govt is installed, one of its first tasks should be to undo Mani Shanker Aiyar's despicable acts. Restoring Veer Savarkar's statue in the Andamans. This congressi sycophant replaced it with Mahatma Gandhi's statue.

This act of this low life is distorting history. NDA should do it loudly and mercilessly. Shiv Sena must be given free hand in dealing with the likes of Aiyar.

parasuram81 said...

While all you guys tear ur hair speculating of an imminent vicory of Congress(going by the comments),let me give u folks another potential ally's stand in future coz iam goddamn sure BJP will be the SLP even by a mere 5 seats n stake a claim.
"The Biju Janata Dal, which had recently severed ties with the BJP, has indicated that it may be willing to return to the NDA.
BJD sources said the party had a change of heart as it feels it is likely to fall about 15 seats short of a majority in the Orissa Assembly and the numbers cannot be made up by its current allies, the Left, NCP and JMM.
The BJD’s internal survey has revealed that it was falling short of the magic figure of 74. The BJD is expected to get about 60-62 seats while its allies may get between three and five seats. The survey has predicted between 15 and 20 seats for the BJP and the Congress getting anywhere between 50 and 60 seats."

Ajay said...

Hmm, Congress prefers to put its own dark horse in race, rather than risk a non-congress guy sitting on the chair.

BJP will need to cross 150 and maintain a 30-40 gap with congress if it has to have any chances at govt. formation.

Anonymous said...

Dear Swapan,
It seems clear that though the Congress will lose big in AP and Tamil Nadu,it will gain big in Orissa, Punjab,Rajasthan, Kerala and will pick up small consequential gains in MP, chattisgarh, Karnataka. Also it will gain seats to an extent in West Bengal. On the other hand, under no circumstances is it clear that the BJP will get anywhere near 160. In fact it seems the BJP will end up at 145 or so even if it picks up 10+ in UP and the Congress at 150+ without any gains in UP. But then it is also clear that the NDA as it stands will be the largest alliance by some distance. That is however small consolation since it is certain the NDA will fall apart once the congress returns as the single largest party. The catchment areas of the BJP have to expand and that wont happen this time.

Anonymous said...

Dear Swapan,
It seems clear that though the congress will lose seats in AP and Tamil Nadu,it will gain in Orissa, Punjab,Rajasthan, Kerala and will pick up small gains in MP, chattisgarh, Karnataka. Also it will gain seats to an extent in West Bengal. On the other hand, under no circumstances is it clear that the BJP will get anywhere near 160. In fact it seems the BJP will end up at 145 orso and the Congress at 150+. But thenit is also clear that the NDA as it stands willbe the largest alliance by some distance. that is howevere small consolation since it is certain the NDA will fall apart once the congress returns as the single largest party. The catchment areas of the BJP have to expand and that wont happen this time.


Sushil Kr Shinde - interesting choice.

A devotee of the miracle "worker" Sai Baba and also a devotee of "multi crore rackateer - Telgi", Shinde embodies the twin pulls of "Almighty" and "Lucre" that Congress to embody and traverse with and cross with ease !!

horizon said...

There is a report in Deccan chronicle today stating that Naveen Patnaik might fall short of majority and he might take BJP support. So few more seats in the kitty for greater NDA.

Anonymous said...

At this point sycophant like Mani Shankar Aiyar has a better chance.Isn't he a Christian? In the Congress, that would be a plus I suppose.

Anonymous said...

There is another possibility - Owners may offer themselves if they see power going to NDA or TF.

Ravindra said...


This is like replacing one puppet with another!

Venkatesh, Return of Chanakya,

I agree that the BJP has a tendency to take the "communal" and "secular" definitions as propounded by the p-sec media lying down. However, last night I saw a glimmer of hope when Ravi Shankar Prasad challenged the Congress spokesperson (is he still?) Ashwani Kumar on this constant talk of "secular forces"! Lets see if this spine develops further

theprudentindian said...

This proves my gut feel were somewhat right about the 'forced Balidaan of MMS this time' at your previous post.

Though the reasons are surely 'politically correct' yet, Shinde somehow - again my gut feel - would not make it.
My reasons...
1. Despite all the noise about Pawar being the possible candidate of Third or what ever front, he simply would not have nos. At least not as much as Jayalalita or Maya or even Mamta could manage.So preempting Pawar by floating Shinde balloon might not work.

2. If being Dalit is of any advantage to Shinde, then remember Maya has thrown her hat too in the ring and she has an added advantage of Left being with her even with truncated nos they still would be a force to recoken with.

3.As for Shiv Sena it might not support this time as they did to Tai simply because they would not be given any importance or share or even credit in any front of this type as the word 'Communal' is attached to them :)

Now for God sake why would they support Marathi Manus who in all likelihood would not treat them at par? Secondly by supporting Marathi Tai earlier they have amply proved their love for Maratha Pride. :)

Well all this is still in the realms of speculation and busy bodies in Studios ( u excluded :) )are splitting their hairs over this issue, whatever the future holds two things are near certain...

1. MMS will be meted out the same fate as the hapless Kesari suffered at the hands of same congressmen. Remember PVN Rao (arguably one among the best three PM) too was not spared the wrath of Congressmen/women/babas and babes simply he did not belong to 'Owner family'. His mortal remains too were denied entry in Congress HQ and yes, I have seen the TV footage of his cremation too.

2. GOD FORBID if BJP fails to do well,then certainly we will witness our own beloved Nation being torn in to shreds by the 'Secular Jihadis'.


Nagaraj said...

It would be a masterstroke from the Congress if they were to do this. Kill many many birds with one stone.

1) Easier govt formation - abstention from Shiv Sena
2) Cut Sharad Pawar to size
3) Cut mayawati to size - she loses half her appeal which is first dalit pm
4) Dalits will dump Mayawati and move towards Congress en masse in the future. Rahul Gandhi becomes PM in 2014!

But Swapanda, any chances of a revolt from within the Congress Party if this were to happen? It is well known that many higher ups in the Congress were unhappy with MMS as PM. Arjun Singh thought that after her 'inner voice abdication', Sonia should have turned to him. Pranab clearly sees himself as the number 2 in the current govt, and clearly the next in line if MMS cant make it...

(Also, Pranab would make it easier to get the Left Parties on board.)

I know the Congress is built on the basis of absolute servility to the holy bloodline, absolutely accepting whatever the high command decides. But any chance of a revolt like this?

Anonymous said...

There's no need to put up Shinde. If it comes to that they will just support T.Front from outside, withdraw support in a year and launch Rahul 'Dubya' Gandhi as PM candidate.

Someone should right away set up a site for Rahulisms - his bizarre, incoherent, foot in mouth remarks will be the stuff of legend.


Anonymous said...

The congress party has infinite guile and cunning- it uses its intelligence for negative purposes as trying to form an unholy alliance with the left, just to keep the BJP out. If they used this intelligence positively India would be a much better place to live in considering the Congress ruled India for more than 45 years.
Also please look up this group on facebook , which is a group formed against these very biased English TV channels:
‘Biased anti-bjp english tv channels such as IBN, NDTV’

innqubus said...

Yet another Dynasty Dog?? Nooooooooooooooo...

Mithun said...

Well it surprises me that you took SK Shinde's name. A person who cant even keep his CM's post even after winning the last assembly elections is just too weak.
If not MMS than I think Pranab Mukherjee could be the consensus candidate for UPA ,but will largely depend on the Left.

Mahesh Prabhu said...

When will this dynastic politics and loyalty to one Congress family get over. I am fed up to be part of system that calls itself biggest democracy in the world. I think we are ruled by Nehru clan like military superpowers.

Shinde ,God must be crazy. Marathi Manus..well i need an Indian and not PM based on religion (dalit).

I request even you swapan to stop making assesements on religion.

Untouchability in politics will end soon.


Anonymous said...

MMS's supporters? Didn't know there were any within the Congress Party!

Cmon Swapanda, MMS has no dedicated support base within the Congress Party. There is not even a constituency which he can call his own. People might respect him for his clean image, and perhaps developmental record etc, but you can't call them supporters...will they stand firm and protest if Her Holiness the High Command deigns that Shinde should be PM? No chance in hell.

MMS is to the Congress Party just like the other allies are - a condom to be used when needed and useful, and thrown away after use. He has helped the party get middle class votes and votes in Punjab. Now that elections are (almost) over, his use is over. Now if the numbers are favourable, MMS will stay. If not, throw him away and get Shinde or someone else who can get other allies for the Gandhi Family to hold on to power.

No doubt MMS wants to remain in the PMs chair (sureshot way of going into history as a successful PM is coming back for a second back to back term). But I don't think he has the spine or the political power to insist on him staying, or evening convincing the Left to support him. Everyone knows that the Gandhi Family has the absolute veto on who becomes PM.

So all the Baba talk of no negotiation on MMS as PM is good before the election. After the elections, he who can get Baba Power will be PM. I don't know if you count Baba among MMS's supporters, but I don't.

Incognito said...

It's a catch 22, really. It could cut-lose Shiv Sena and earn kudos from dalit mongers, but dishearten SP, who sees in the weak Dr. MMS their only form of consensus with the Congress and base their support vis-a-vis the same. And I wouldn't know how Lalu and Paswan react, who despise Maharashtrians as it is.
Also that they're open to be eaten alive by the oppn. if they actually go ahead and drop MMS.

Anonymous said...

Who is a BJP Supporter ?

While not quite relevant to this post, here are some thoughts:

1. The BJP supporter roots for India.
2. There are 115 crore people in India, 114 crores are middle class or poor. By definition, the BJP should be on the opposite side of the rich.
3. Over the last 5 years, 55 million people have been added to the poverty line, while the super rich had increased their wealth from 19 billion US dollars to 200 billion. the BJP is NOT on the side of the super rich.
4. Fight for drinking water, free health, free good quality education, ladli lakshmi scheme, increased taxes on the rich, more relief to the pooor and the middle class. If we do this, the BJP will rule for the next 100 years.

Venkatesh said...


Your comment on SKS being too weak. He cant be any worse than MMS who has not come in through the lok sabha and worse is not even competing this year's election!!!

IF SKS is weak that is precisely the reason why he will be put up. How else do you think the gandhi's can control him.

Anonymous said...

I don't see the owners themselves taking up the PM post. Bahu/Maa will lose the aura around her after the 'inner voice' fiasco, she prefers to be the Thackerayesque remote control. Beta wants a comfortable majority for himself, doesn't want to have to deal with pesky allies especially the left. Beti ofcourse just wants to lead a happy life with her kids & family, but irritating sycophants want her to get involved in politics. She just comes out occasionally to compare her nose, face, sarees etc with the Saas/Baa. A full Baa, Bahu aur Beti saga going on here.

Think about it. If Sonia becomes PM, it would be a 'Kyunki Saas bhi kabhi PM thi' show going on.

harish k said...

Shinde will very likely fit the Madam's Chela bill as well, which was MMS's forte as well. Do we need to make ourselves remember shinde statement that he and vilasrao deshmukh are Yes, Madam types :)

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of speculation here whether Shiv Sena (SS) will suport Shinde for PM post just because he is a Marathi Manoos. Those making the claim unfortunately do not understand the psyche of SS and Bal / Uddhav T. First in their mind the support to Patil was showing off their Marathi pride (a defence against aggressive MNS) without paying too much cost. Shekawat was not going to win anyway and for them the President's post is inconsequential in the larger scheme of things. They will not support any Marathi person for PM blindly (Uddhav has gone on record and said that there is no Maharashtrian now capable of becoming a pM). They will never support Shinde for PM because
a) He is from Congress -SS hates Congress a little less than the lefties
b) Assembly polls - Maharashtra goes to the polls in Sept; a Marathi PM from congress may help inept government led by Congress retain power. SS lives for the assembly elections (t is clear from the candidates they have chosen for Lok Sabha seats in mumbai - Thane; apart from Kirtikar and Paranjpe most of the candidates are have beens and they are sort of being eased into Lok Sabha....MNS got the better of SS by fielding in young professional candidates who would have easily won their seats had they been fielded by SS...The Modi formula ) - if they lose this time SS may find it difficult to keep its flock of voters from jumping to MNS.
c) There is a section within SS who wants to support Pawar for PM - But that scenario will be wholly dependent on SS-NCP aligning for assembly elections. How Pawar becomes PM with only 10-12 MPs and without Congress or BJP support is beyond me . Nixing SS-NCP assembly tie up will be the 1st thing Congress or BJP will ask in return for Pawar outside support.


Anonymous said...

I don't think Sonia will go for 2 Marathi rubber-stamps. The last five years have been run with a Punjabi/Assamese rubber stamp, the last 2 additionally with a Marathi rubber stamp....I'm predicting a Bengali rubber stamp this time around :)

socal said...

What distinguishes the Congressi secularists from BJP is their killer instinct. Hopefully, BJP will learn this time, if they get a shot at govt. formation. The floating of Shinde's name is a reflection of the former's cold calculating cut-throat elitist tendency.

Anonymous said...

vision VISION vision

This is what we need.

Infrastructure: Highways, State roads, Water projects - River linking, Electricity - Wind farms, Solar projects, Environment- Pollution free vehicles.

This will also increase jobs not just in urban areas but also in rural areas.

Vajpayee had this vision. MMS did not. He showed he is BIG ZERO as far ideas are concerned.


Vinay said...

looks like BJP is on a roll and has built up the momentum to form the next government...;+election+results;+global+economy;+ICICI+Ba&SectionName=HFdYSiSIflu29kcfsoAfeg==

BharGo said...

A little birdy told me that Madam wanted to make Shivaraj Patil the PM in 2004... but he lost the elections and MMS ascended the throne!

I have my doubts if SSK will win the elections this time... my bet is that NDA grab the gaddi!

Anonymous said...

Here's a lighter, humourous take on election 2009.

Anonymous said...

There are too many power centers, aspirants and even black-mailers within the so-called secular parties to allow Congress to make a minor player like Sushil Kumar Shinde, the PM and let the Congress walk away with laurels.
No Doubt the BJP will be the single largest party. But somehow I dont see the NDA mustering the required numbers.
I strongly suspect a Left + AIADMK supported Congress government with Pranab Mukherjee as the compromise candidate. Mukherjee is in the good books of the Left. Lets not forget his role in trying to convince the Left over the nuclear deal. He is also acceptable to the middle class. The Left will also take the advantage of isolating Mamata in the coming Bengal elections as she can neither align with the Congress nor with the BJP, thanks to the Muslim votes she got this time.
AIADMK is sure to support the Cong in return for its withdrawal of support to the DMK in TN.
Lastly , even as I write this the most shameful politician in the country and the 'Founder'of the Third Front, Deve Gowda has sent his son Kumaraswamy to 10 Janpath for talks!

Anonymous said...

The unbiased CNN IBN does itself proud this week

1. Embarrassingly prostrates before Rahul Gandhi

2. Rajdeep Sardesia develops a crush on Priyanka

3. The shrill Sagarika Ghosh secularly intones "Salaams and Pranams" at the beginning of each show of Face the Nation, and tells the Left to join the UPA or face the blame for a hindootva government.

Need more evidence that CNN IBN is India's Fox News?

Oldtimer said...

>>Need more evidence that CNN IBN is India's Fox News?

Then what is NDTV? India's Doordarshan? :-)

Anonymous said...

CNN-IBN is NOT India's Fox News.
FOX news in US is unabashedly pro-nationalist, anti-jihadi, anti-liberal and pro-christian.
And it beats pinko-liberal outlets like CNN, BBC etc. hands down in ratings.

India needs its own version of Fox news for the sake of fairness.

Anonymous said...

CNN IBN is India's Fox News in the sense that they have become Congress ideologues i.e. they have pre determined support for the Congress that will not change regardless of the facts.

And no, India doesn't need it's own Fox News thats pro-nationalist - that will only make people hate the BJP more, much as ideologues like Bill O Reilly cause more harm to the Republicans than good through their partisan coverage.

What we need is a more dispassionate news channel that presents all sides with fairness, and more importantly calmness. I don't understand why our news channel heads need to froth at the mouth and scream each night as they present the news - just switch over to bbc world to see the difference in attitude of our newsmen and the more mature ones in the west.

robin said...

I think Newsx is a reasonable news channel.BJP supporters dont watch it .Otherwise its TRP would have been up by now. BJP spokesmen also give short shrift to this channel.Newsx should be the first choice of BJP spokesmen and NDTV can have Prakash Jawdekar all the time.

Anonymous said...

A gold-letter day when our nation is freed from this most opportunistic, fake, SERF!

Swapan Dasgupta said...

An interesting article:
Congress might dump Dr Singh

It is not official yet, but...

By Lakshmi Iyer

Posted On Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Delhi: Two days before the last phase of the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress apparently took steps to let go of its PM candidate, Dr Manmohan Singh, to secure the backing of the Left.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi reportedly told a member of Delhi Science Forum, a pro-CPI(M) group, on Monday that her party will accommodate the Left’s policy concerns and change the PM candidate, highly-placed UPA sources said. Sonia did not reveal probable alternatives to Dr Singh, but one name being discussed in UPA circles is Sushil Kumar Shinde [a Dalit]. Sources said a change of PM is imperative for securing Left’s support.

A UPA leader said, “Despite CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat going on record that he has nothing personal against Dr Singh, the Left needs a face-saver to get back to supporting the Congress after staunchly opposing the Indo-US nuclear deal.”

Sources said Sonia is determined to prevent the NDA from coming to power, one reason being their demand for getting money stashed away in Swiss banks. With all opinion polls indicating that there is not much gap between the UPA and the NDA, Sonia does not want to take any chances.

Officially, the Communists are not willing to say anything.

The only indication came in the form of CPI leader A B Bardhan’s statement that the Left could support a Congress-led government only if the country gets a Dalit PM.

But CPI National Secretary D Raja clarified, “That remark was meant for Mayawati [a Dalit].”

CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury said, “The Congress has not officially communicated any new name. Let us wait for the numbers on May 16.”

Copyright 2008 Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd