Monday, October, 03,2022

The message of Punjab: Fall in line and change with times

What’s next after Punjab? The most exclusive analysis on the political  crisis of Punjab and the political situation in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh by Editor-In-Chief of First India, Jagdeesh Chandra, in The New JC Show

How do you see the change in leadership in Punjab? So, what after Punjab?

Jagdeesh Chandra: There is only one message from Punjab episode—extra attachment to power and chair is cause of death.

He (Captain Amarinder Singh) ruled for 9.5 years and when the party says leave, you leave. It should be understood that command has changed at 10 Janpath.

Do not argue against the mandate of High Command, do not indulge in arrogance, resistance and defiance.

Fall in line, this is the message from Punjab! As far as question of what next is concerned, only two states are left with the Congress, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

The messages for CMs of these states is similar that time has changed, so change as per the times. And if you do not change, then it is not good. 

Is Captain’s resignation, who was close to Gandhi family, on Rahul’s insistence or advice, not a sign that command of the Congress has now shifted from Sonia to Rahul?

Certainly. The decision making of the Gandhi family and High Command is certainly now lies with Rahul. Punjab is start of this and further there will be more changes in AICC, may be in states also. 

Does Sonia’s telling Captain, ‘I am sorry, Amarinder’ reflects her helplessness or compulsion?

Sonia has handed over the command to Rahul. Had Sonia been in decisive mode, Captain might not have to leave this way.

Rahul is decisive, focused. It was his decision to change so he made the change. This is a fact that Sonia’s remark expressed her helplessness.

Is it true that Rahul, who is called ‘a reluctant bride’, has taken over party reins without a formal proposal from CWC?

This is a wrong precedent. This should not happen in a democratic country and in a 100-year-old party. CWC meeting should be held, resolution should be passed, coronate and felicitate the new head.

But why Rahul is called ‘reluctant bride’ is because he cannot decide whether he is to become party President or not?

He may have his reasons as he says that he would not accept the post if not given a free hand.

So it may be that before taking over the position, he wants to ensure himself that his writ is being implemented in the party.

Today, 1 CM has been removed, later he will remove more people and bring more changes. When he gets confidence, he may take over as party President formally after CWC meeting.

But this tradition is wrong. Had he entered through democratic process, then it would have been pleasant. 

Is it true that after Punjab, Rahul’s agenda is to take resignation of Chhattisgarh CM & get rebel leader TS Singh Deo crowned there? 

The decision is clear by now and its reason is that when Baghel was coronated 2.5 years ago in Chhattisgarh, Baghel and TS Singh Deo had gone to Rahul who was in favour of making someone else the CM.

Both the leaders, however, proposed to High Command that they would run the regime for half term each and it got Rahul’s stamp.

Now 2.5 years are over but the problem is that no one wants to relinquish the rule. Baghel did not fulfill the commitment so Singh Deo reached Delhi and met Rahul, who is hardcore and professional kind of a guy.

He made both leaders sit together and reminded Baghel of the consensus reached. So the message was conveyed outside that as per 2.5 years formula, Baghel is likely to resign but it did not happen.

He played pressure politics that Rahul did not like and  was clearly told that he has to resign. However, Priyanka intervened and praised Baghel for election management in UP and said he should continue.

So Rahul is in a dilemma and is scheduled to visit Chhattisgarh. Sources say that the decision, which was likely in a few days, may be deferred till after the UP elections.

But Rahul may go ahead with changes in Chhattisgarh and new CM may be coronated. 

It is being said that after Chhattisgarh, Rahul’s focus will be on Rajasthan, where he has to bridge gaps between Gehlot & Pilot camps & unite party for 2023 polls?

It is true and is priority of Rahul. Someone told me that Chhattisgarh issue is on the back burner and Rajasthan episode is on Rahul’s priority.

It seems the process has started in Delhi to bring both together, to sort out issues between the camps, so that the party can contest 2023 polls unitedly. Congress has good chances of winning in 2023 as BJP stands divided.

Is Rahul’s thinking about Rajasthan limited only to Cabinet reshuffle or beyond?

So far, focus apparently seems on Cabinet reshuffle, political appointment, and PCC reorganisation. But if any other factors come in this way, Rahul’s mood changes and he becomes decisive.

So it will depend on suggestions of Rahul about Cabinet reshuffle and it will depend on Ajay Maken and Ashok Gehlot to implement them. So far, it can be said exercise will be limited only to cabinet reshuffle.

According to indications from 10 Janpath, after reshuffle scheduled following Shradh Paksha, the present face of Gehlot Cabinet will completely change. Do you think so?

The High Command will do everything as per its wish, is an eternal truth. The decision making process has changed and the new person will conduct Cabinet reshuffle accordingly.

If Rahul does not think beyond Cabinet reshuffle, then the reshuffle will be a complete bloodshed and a new face of Gehlot Cabinet.

It may take time because of long consultation, like in Punjab, and consultation has been going on for 6 months.

Rajasthan in-charge Ajay Maken has claimed often that a consensus has been reached between the high command, Gehlot and Pilot camps on Cabinet reshuffle and political appointments, but as per Gehlot camp sources, Gehlot is still mentally not ready for this. So, what’s the solution?

This is true. A source associated with Gehlot camp told me that he is not in a mood. He is not ready to ignore 102 loyal people and give space to rebels in the Cabinet.

He is mentally not ready for it since last one year but circumstances have not changed.

Will he be able to overcome his mental block, his conviction or his political value system in Rahul’s rule?

We hope that Gehlot will be flexible and understand High Command’s point of view. Gehlot is actually, a very seasoned and experienced leader and knows how to be flexible and take a u-turn.

As such, I do not think there will be confrontation with the High Command. There will be some changes and he would agree.

There has been a long political meeting between Rahul and Pilot in Delhi recently. What’s your take?
In the present political scenario, Rahul’s long meeting with Pilot is an important incident, regardless of the exact length of the meeting what is important is that they had a long meeting.

One of the first points they must have discussed would be how to strengthen the party, the 2023 elections are looming and must be fought unitedly.

The second point which definitely would have been taken up would have been the long pending political appointments, PCC reorganisation and the third is the connected issue of change, I can say with conviction that leadership change was not discussed at all.

In fact leadership change in Rajasthan is not an issue at all, the point is of PCC change. Someone informed me that Pilot has been given full independence to decide whether to stay on in Rajasthan or move to Delhi in AICC. Rahul and Sachin must have definitely discussed Pilot’s future plans.

What will be Pilot’s role after adjusting people of his camp in Cabinet and political appointments? Can he take over command of PCC again?

As far as Pilot’s wish is concerned, he also wants to do politics in Rajasthan like Gehlot. There are less chances that he would accept important responsibilities in AICC.

If there is an order, he will have to go. If left to him, he will prefer to stay in Rajasthan.

Even as an MLA from Tonk, he would like to remain here. So far, there are talks he may be made general secretary in AICC and given charge of Gujarat, Maharashtra or North Eastern states and strengthen the party at national level. There are chances of him becoming PCC chief too and I think he is willing.

After this meeting, Pilot camp sources have indicated that like Punjab and Chhattisgarh, there will be a change of leadership in Raj & party will contest 2023 polls by bringing in a new face. Your take?

In politics anything is possible! About six months ago, my stand was that Congress in Rajasthan means Gehlot and whenever Congress makes government in Rajasthan, Gehlot will be the face.

This was my assessment at the time of Sonia but now time has changed, decision making has changed at the 10 Janpath and Rahul has emerged in picture.

I cannot say surely that leadership change won’t happen before elections because these days it has become a fashion to change CM.

 It happened in Punjab, almost happened in Chhattisgarh and some advisors may advise that there are elections in Rajasthan also so change Gehlot, even though he has done good work.

 During Sonia’s time this possibility was zero but it cannot be said if this will remain or not because Gehlot is a mastermind.

If high command wishes for change in leadership in Raj before 2023, then when will this happen?

It will be a very big and important decision to change guard in Rajasthan. If a policy decision has been taken to change CM face, then it should happen at least 1 year before polls.

It is a matter of fate also. I would like to mention that in ‘jyotish market’ of Jaipur, Pilot’s horoscope is in great demand these days.

If this happens then who will be this new face in Rajasthan?

This is very tough. Kumar Ganesh, a numerologist, had said that in 2021 Gehlot will go to Delhi as party president or working president and his nominee will be the CM here.

His nominee, could be Dhariwal or Kalla. But situation has changed now and projecting a nominee is tough. Gehlot may have only 51% say in that. And then a face like Channi in Punjab may come to the fore irrespective of the fact whether the party wins or loses after that.

How do you see the long meeting between Assembly Speaker Dr CP Joshi and Sachin Pilot in the backdrop of Rajasthan crisis? Is Joshi mediating between Gehlot & Pilot?

If we forget that there was any direction from High Command for the both to meet, it may be termed as a meeting of two like-minded people.

Pilot may be exploring his possibilities whether Joshi is with him or not? During last few days, unexpectedly the Joshi camp has remained active in Delhi.

There were reports that Joshi met Venugopal and there was enthusiasm in Joshi camp that he can be the CM!

What is the future of Revenue Minister Harish Chaudhary, who played an important role in Punjab crisis?

His future is bright. He is the only gainer in all this crisis. He attended meetings at Rahul’s residence and is comfortable there.

He may become Punjab in-charge also. As far as Rajasthan is concerned, he praises Gehlot but does not have much stakes here.

There was a period of turmoil, CBI case and news about that, but now his achhe din have come.

Will Rahul make a radical change in AICC before Assembly polls in Feb-March and after resolving Chhattisgarh & Rajasthan issues?

There will be massive changes in AICC. 40 secretaries will be changed, 8-10 general secretaries will be changed, Ghulam Nabi Azad will be roped in for coordination among the states, Kamal Nath may become executive president or treasurer.

So I feel, these changes will happen between the interim period of resolving Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan issues.

Captain Amarinder is deeply hurt and has made it clear that Gandhi family has humiliated him. How do you see this?
He is right to some extent. He is hurt with three things. First, he says when there were talks of change and meetings were held in Chandigarh, he was not aware. Secondly, he sought time to meet Sonia but did not get.

The same evening Priyanka got Sidhu appointed as PCC chief through Sonia. Third, he opposed Sidhu a lot but even then he was made PCC chief.

Are old guards in Congress upset and restless with these developments? Do you see a possibility of second phase of G-23?

G-23 is an old chapter which is in cold storage. There is no leader in Congress that can challenge leadership of Sonia, Rahul, and Priyanka. Leaders like Gehlot and Baghel, who have mass base, do not have in their nature to challenge High Command.

Rahul once expressed displeasure to Sonia about G-23 meeting. It is said that Rahul leaked  G-23 leaders’ letter to media to expose their nature. He sought free hand first to fix his family, then the AICC, then to target BJP, and then to focus on the country even if it takes 50 years.

Captain has been very close to Gandhis, so what reason do you see for his humiliating departure?

The main reason was that his time was over. But if we list the reasons, the first was his defiance towards the High Command or extra self-respect.

From the very start, when he defeated Arun Jaitley in 2014, he became an apple of the eye of High Command. He was adamant that he would continue politics in Punjab only.

So in 2015, Sonia had to make him PCC chief. After that there were derogatory remarks on Rahul. One factor was his rigid attitude about Sidhu, which I perceive about Pilot in Rajasthan.

The party High Command’s decision should be respected but sometimes ‘dil hai ke manta nahin’.

One more point was that 35 MLAs had written to take action against Badal family in drugs and firing cases but Captain failed.

In a direct attack on Rahul & Priyanka, Captain made a public statement that both are still immature in politics and are acting on wrong opinion of advisors. Is this a sign of Captain’s complete disenchantment?

It is certainly disenchantment. He is hurt so he made this comment. It was an unfortunate chapter but it is closed now.

BJP & Congress changed 6 CMs in last 6 months. Has it become a fashion to change CMs?

It is a new phenomenon in the country’s politics. Sometimes it becomes a trend. Whether change is right or not will be decided after elections.

Congress has adopted BJP’s fashion of changing the CMs.

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