Saturday, March 22, 2014

Varanasi- Waterloo of the East

Varanasi is actually the Jerusalem/Mecca of the East- the holiest of holy locales for the Hindus.

Right now however it is the Waterloo analogy that fits. The Napolean of our times calls out the republican guards to be committed  to battle as a last (lost) hope solution- if this does not work, nothing else will.

And in the (upper-caste dominated) battle-fields of Varanasi it will be a face-off between a divine Brahmin (Congress) and a lowly Shudra (BJP). The Shudra is favored to win and has a shot at becoming the next PM. This is how a slow revolution (67 years) looks like.

It would be psychologically traumatic for the Grand Old Party (not to mention hurtful for the top leadership under a brand new leader) to score below 114 (the previous low point 15 years ago in 1999).  

Hence we have Mission 115.

As per our (wild) predictions this is the Congress (and allies) top-line:
Telengana (10), Karnataka (20), Kerala (10), Maharashtra (10), North-East (10). It is doable to get (40) from rest of the nation to get to (100). But beyond this will be difficult and will require lots of luck.

A lot will depend critically on the muslim block vote, going by the experience of Delhi, the old generation will probably stay loyal, however it will be grim news if the young muslims abandon the party in favor of the AAP in urban areas (and BSP is rural ones).

The Congress has rolled out its heavy artillery to salvage as many seats in what threatens to be its toughest election in recent times and dodge what is considered to be a serious risk of party posting its lowest ever score.

Sources said that the decision to persuade its reluctant leaders to take the field was a deliberate one, influenced by party's desire not to slump below its 1999 tally of 114 — its worst-ever LS election tally.

The party has nominated its senior leaders, former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, Union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad,and senior party functionary Ambika Soni.

Amarinder Singh , put on combat fatigues by dubbing Arun Jaitley, his BJP rival in Amritsar as "outsider". However, the former Punjab CM was not very keen to enter the fray, and tried to bat aside suggestions that he contest by saying that he could do so only at the cost of the prospects of his spouse, minister of state for foreign affairs , Parineet Kaur, in her Patiala constituency.

Union health minister Azad was also not enthusiastic about putting on war paint ,but changed his stance because of the promise of the J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah to transfer votes of National Conference in Udhampur . Party's assessment that the candidates of both BJP and PDP in Udhampur were 'weak" also helped Azad summon the nerve.

The party brought in Soni as a replacement for Ravneet Singh Bittu who was adjudged to be "extremely vulnerable" because of high level of incumbency against him.

Anxious to duck the threat of crashing to its lowest score, party had to cajole a number of party leaders in Rajasthan to enter the ring, although the persuasion was of no avail in the case of finance minister P Chidambaram who vacated his Sivganga seat in Tamil Nadu for his son.

"The political and psychological consequences of folding up below 114 can be debilitating", acknowledged a party source.

Meanwhile deliberations in the party over who should be its candidate against BJP's PM candidate in Varanasi continues. Party sources said that the choice could be between party general secretary Digvijaya Singh and known Brahmin face, Pramod Tiwarii, Rita Bahughuna Joshi or a local choice.

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