NEW DELHI: As political parties announced their first list of candidates on Friday, the Congress announced its vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s somewhat lonely poll programme in West Champaran.
He will be addressing a public meeting on Saturday, which neither RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav nor Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will attend. Both have deputed their second fiddles — Lalu his son Tejashwi Yadav and Nitish his party MP KC Tyagi — for the meeting.
The Congress and JD-U’s Tyagi justified the Lalu-Nitish ‘no-show’ saying the focus will be Rahul. But the fact that Rahul had absented himself from the JD(U)-RJD-Congress ‘grand alliance’ rally in Patna, which Sonia Gandhi attended, fuelled speculation about Lalu’s unwillingness to share dais with the Congress scion. It’s apparent that Rahul has not been accepted as a leader by other political parties’ leaders like his mother has. Besides, in a tough election crowded with quick-alliances, Rahul’s political branding is hardly the agenda. The irony, however lies in the decline of Congress clout, as BJP’s has equally increased. Once a supporting party of Nitish Kumar-Sharad Yadav-led JD(U), BJP is the lead player in the NDA grouping, this time.
Despite Jitan Ram Manjhi’s hardball act and Ram Vilas and Chiraj Paswan’s sulk over seats, the jitters they gave the BJP camp were temporary. The Congress, appearing much like a party of the yesteryears, is content backing a combination that’s determined to keep the BJP at bay. The BJP, by contrast, is playing to win.