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Editor-In-Chief of First India, Jagdeesh Chandra, in The New JC Show, speaks about media management of Yogi’s government, CWC & Gehlot as trouble-shooter for Gandhis including impact of Assembly elections on the Presidential poll and more...(Part 2)
One section in BJP and RSS considers Yogi as its ‘dattak putra’. What does that mean?
Jagdeesh Chandra: This means that he is favoured. His ideology, his image, his attire, his no-nonsense attitude, non-appeasement of minorities etc all is preferred by this section. So, they see him as a future prospect after Modi who can be sent in the field.
But Shah, who does not have a monk like image but his image is of a strategist and stands with them. He does not have a hardcore image but he has strategy and hard work to his side.
Modi and Shah need RSS’s help but not to extent that RSS needs these 2 . It is due to strategic importance that saffron is spread across nation. Yogi too needs RSS & perhaps more than Modi & Shah.
It is said that Yogi’s media management and his CMO have also played an effective role in the election victory of UP. What is your assessment about this?
Definitely it has been there. No govt can enter electoral foray without media management. During Akhilesh Yadav’s govt media management was at its lowest ebb & then Navneet Sehgal was brought in after which situation improved.
When Yogi govt was formed, Sehgal was away from media management but later high command and Yogi himself realised that it is important to put an experienced person in charge of media management.
Awanish K Awasthi was handling it then but he also had law and order charge which is basically the image builder for Yogi as strong law and order has been his mainstay. So, Sehgal was brought back and UP media gave credit of the victory to Yogi, more than Modi-Shah.
This was Yogi govt’s media management. There is a minor coordination issue between Sehgal and the director there but that will smoothen out with time. CMO there is effective.
The one similarity between Modi and Yogi’s work culture is that they give free hand to bureaucracy and delegate power.
Since both of them remain extremely busy in political assignments so they emphasise on total delegation with total trust. Overall, CMO and media management team played a good role.
What will be the major challenges before Yogi in his second term?
Challenges are many. there is a long way to go. Firstly, he has to ensure that his coordination and understanding with high command is better than before and there is no confrontation like earlier. For this he will have to delegate this coordination responsibility to some trusted individual.
Secondly, he will have to look into the poll percentage for 2024 general election since this time around a lot of votes have been cast due to Mayawati factor, so next time BJP will have to bring LS seats on its own.
Thirdly, he will have to move ahead in administrational field.
Fourthly, there is a perception about him that he promotes Thakur bureaucracy, even if he does not do so. So, he will have to work to end that perception.
Fifth and perhaps the biggest issue is of coordination with the central nominees. there are individuals who will be part of the Yogi government as nominees of Central leadership so they may have some attitude.
The smooth functioning of government will depend on Yogi’s coordination. Development agenda has brought votes and that should continue.
Now elections will be held in Gujarat, Rajasthan and many other states. Will Hindutva be a factor and will after Ayodhya and Kashi, focus will now shift to Mathura?
Hindutva has become agenda of every Hindu now. They have ensured that Hindutva is accepted as a value system for masses. So now they do not have to do anything it will be people who will take it forward. Kashi and Mathura is a policy matter and they will pick up when they want.
What was Mayawati’s role in BJP’s victory in UP?
Extremely crucial. Mayawati’s image has been formed of a party which has cut votes of BJP’s rival parties. BJP should thank her for this. Mayawati has been a crucial factor, her vote percentage, which was around 22% came down to 12% or so.
But she must have thought that if I cannot be in power, then why should Akhilesh be? Secondly, Modi-Shah contested election through mind games and not through votes, wherein Mayawati could fit in strategy. Mayawati shifted her votes to BJP and Amit Shah acknowledged it and stressed that BSP is still relevant.
There are murmurs that BSP may get included in BJP and Mayawati could be made the Presidential or Vice-presidential candidate. Do you think so?
I have heard about it and it is not impossible since Modi and Shah are known for experiments. I can’t say that the parties will become one but there can be an unannounced coordination likes of which we saw in UP election recently.
Mayawati can be a candidate which will send good message in Dalit community and as such there has been some understanding between BJP and Dalit community now.
Did Vikas Dubey encounter have any effect on the election?
There was no effect on election of the encounter. Even on Brahmin dominated seats BJP has performed well.
Did the Lakhimpur Kheri incident have any effect on polls?
There is just one answer to all this. Modi wave. What to do about it? Add to this is Amit Shah’s strategy and it becomes a miracle of this century.
It is nothing short of a miracle that all 8 seats of Lakhimpur district have been won by BJP. Congress fielded someone from the victim’s family but their security deposit was forfeited. It is a tremendous victory for BJP to win all seats in the Lakhimpur district.
And how successful was Priyanka Gandhi’s decision to give 40% tickets to women?
The sentiment behind it was good, but it proved to be a disaster. Priyanka was Congress’ last hope after Rahul. Rahul is there, but some people, including me, believed that she will be able to do something. But keeping in mind the overall structure of the Gandhi family, she has not been able to achieve anything.
She fielded 144 women candidates of which security was forfeited of 137. This is Priyanka and Congress’ report card. Ashok Gehlot says at least she contested, so yes that point is there, she did move about & campaigned for party. But at end of day delivery counts. Where is delivery?
Do you think Congress will repeat this formula in 2024 Lok Sabha elections?
I don’t think so. Neither in any state nor in 2024. Priyanka must have become extremely demoralized due to the failure.
They have managed just 2 seats whereas they had 7 earlier. Even in CWC the participants did not say anything out of courtesy and respect and said to Priyanka that she did a good job. That is alright, elders do say encouraging words to children. But the result is before all to see. So, there is no chance that Congress would give forty percent seats to women.
What was the result of the five-hour CWC meeting held on March 13 after the defeat of the Congress in these five states?
There has not been any conducive result. The same script has been repeated. One Rajasthan CM is Ashok Gehlot, stands up as saviour and as defender of Gandhi family.
He changed the entire discourse of the talks but what was the result? Sonia did show large hearted approach and offered to resign.
But everyone knows where is the option. There is no option for leadership in Congress other than Gandhi family. The real issue is how does Gandhi family provide leadership.
They said they will hold a Chintan Shivir and CM Gehlot is expert in organising such events. Cong says those that are left are BJP’s men.
Ghulam Nabi was alleged to have an alliance with BJP but it was a sin to term a leader like Azad with BJP. CWC was ritual which was carried out nicely due to courtesy of Rajasthan CM Gehlot.
Congress will get a full time President in August-September this year and it is believed that Rahul Gandhi will be appointed as President. But has Rahul accepted this?
I have had my doubts since day one about Rahul. He is brilliant person, but he will avoid taking any direct responsibility.
I still have my doubts that even if the working committee passes the proposal, he will go to the next room and say sorry to his mother that he will not be able to carry out the role. And his mother knows about his anger too. This is the difficulty faced by Congress.
Party has been swinging between Rahul becoming President or not. Half of the people say something else and in anger he leaves for Italy to meet his grandmother.
His colleagues like Surjewala can’t give leadership in his absence. problem in Gandhi family is that Sonia is the only person left with whom people connect but her health does not permit her to move about too much.
Rahul’s problem is that he is not regular, you may see him once and he may disappear for days altogether, he isn’t easily accessible, you don’t want to consult anyone.
I have said it before too that only Rahul can take on Modi. In 2015 I interviewed Rahul and Priyanka and during off-camera interaction they asked my view of Congress.
I told them that either of them should move away from nation and tell people to support the one staying behind. Priyanka then immediately said to me, “why should I leave?” I had said then that she has a passion to lead the nation.
The solution now is that Rahul should be appointed leader in LS and Priyanka should be sent to RS from Raj where she should be given place of Ghulam Nabi and also made party president which Sonia should enforce. They need this moral courage. Unless there is this clarity in Cong nothing will change. Then decision by President should not change.
Gandhi family, I am sorry to say, is a house of confused and disappointed people. Only hope is Gehlot but what will he do in Delhi, Cong may lose Raj then. And if remote has to be with Rahul or anyone else, then what good will Ashok Gehlot do?
Who could be the party president if Rahul declines taking the mantle?
Such a role can be played by those who are okay with being run through remote control. For example, there is Mallikarjun Kharge. Another name doing rounds is of Mukul Wasnik. He knows the Delhi culture and is a loyal worker like Avinash Pande.
There are some people who are simple, mature and loyal. But the first issue is whether Gandhi family will decide on appointing a president apart from the family.
Few days back there were murmurs in Congress of which 10 Janpath also took notice, that perhaps someone from G-21 may come at helm.
So, they became active to safeguard their survival. Mukul Wasnik, I think may be one of the best choices at the moment. He is from South-India but has a good image in North too.
He has good liaison abilities and enjoys good rapport with Gehlot. He can coordinate with everyone since he does not have a state to run, unlike Gehlot. Wasnik is therefore a good name, provided Gandhis move out of their self-drawn lakshman rekha.
How do you visualise the role of G-21 after the CWC meeting?
G-21 has become more sensible now. Earlier there was a disappointment, but off late Gandhis have recognised that. They realised their mistake and honoured G-21, to some extent. Secondly, even the members of G-21 are behaving properly, but sometimes frustration does happen, Kapil Sibal has said a lot of things, without mincing words, blaming Rahul.
Even G-21 does not have a future without Gandhi family. I had read that someone proposed Pilot’s name saying he could be brought, to which someone else proposed Wasnik’s name. So, point is that anyone other than Gandhi family will be run through remote control & will have problems in running too & there will be nothing more than this.
Ashok Gehlot changed the entire paradigm of CWC meet. Do you think he yet again emerged as man Friday for Gandhis?
100% this has been the case. He is one of the most sensible leaders not only in Congress but across the nation. I have firm belief that even Modi must have admiration for Gehlot. being in different party and Opposition on political issues is a different thing.
He changed the entire script of the meeting just through his interviews and he virtually emerged as principal trouble-shooter for Gandhis in that critical CWC meeting.
During the show #JConModiUPWave trended top All-India on Twitter
To be continued...