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BUSTED! Rahul Gandhi, the anti-corruption crusader

Last updated on: March 05, 2014 22:38 IST

BUSTED! Rahul Gandhi, the anti-corruption crusader

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Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s recent attempts to fashion himself as an anti-corruption crusader were blown apart on Wednesday.

Rediff.com’s Anita Katyal reports

The hollowness of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s claims on fighting graft were exposed on Wednesday when the Nehru-Gandhi scion shared a platform with scam-tainted former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan at a rally in Aurangabad and his party stitched up an alliance with Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, who has been convicted in the fodder scam.

An embarrassed Congress had a tough time explaining Chavan’s presence at Rahul’s rally in Aurangabad on Wednesday for it was little over  two months ago that the latter had publicly disapproved the Maharashtra government’s decision to reject the judicial commission report on the Adarsh housing scam in the presence of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

Serious attempts have been underway for some time now to rehabilitate the former Maharashtra chief minister. There are reports that Chavan could be appointed as the party’s election campaign committee chief before next month’s Lok Sabha polls.  

While this move has met with vehement opposition by Chavan’s detractors, a section of the Maharashtra Congress wants him to be rehabilitated to fill the vacuum left in the Marathwada region by former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s death.

“We need a Maratha leader from this region as there is nobody after Vilasrao,” a senior Congress functionary told rediff.com while Maharashtra Unit Chief Manikrao Thakre had recently said, “Chavan could be useful for poll preparations.” The former CM has met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in connection with his possible return to active political life.

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Image: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi
Photographs: Congress party
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If the Congress had no plausible explanation for Rahul sharing a platform with Ashok Chavan, it was equally bereft of answers when asked about the party’s tie-up with RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav.  

In September last year, Rahul had walked into a press conference unannounced and dramatically declared that the United Progressive Alliance government’s ordinance to negate a Supreme Court order disqualifying convicted MPs was “nonsense” and should be “torn and thrown out.”

The ordinance, which was eventually rejected by the Union Cabinet after Rahul publicly slammed the move, would have provided relief to Lalu who lost his Lok Sabha membership and was disqualified from contesting elections in the wake of the Supreme Court verdict.

Privately, Congress leaders explain that a tie-up with RJD would be politically beneficial for the party in Bihar as this partnership could help consolidate the Yadav and the Muslim vote.

They point out that an alliance between the Congress, RJD and Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party had helped the UPA bag 29 seats in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, but they all fared poorly when they contested separately in 2009. The Congress-RJD alliance has been weakened after Paswan tied up with the BJP but the two parties have no choice but to stick together.

Overall, Wednesday’s developments demonstrate that political pragmatism eventually gains precedence over idealism.


Image: Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Yadav


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