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Was there a hidden message behind CBI raid on Stalin?

By Renu Mittal
March 22, 2013 01:59 IST
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Congress leaders say that even if the Samajwadi Party stops supporting the government, there are other parties that will bail the government out as they need more time to prepare for the elections, reports Renu Mittal

The searches at the residence of M K Stalin, the son of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader M Karunanidhi, a day after the DMK withdrew support from the UPA government is being seen as a case of “kahin pe nigahen kahin pe nishana”. In political circles the raid is being interpreted as a warning to Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati to not underestimate the power of the ruling party of India and its main tool the Central Bureau of Investigation.

This comes despite huge denials from Finance Minister P Chidambaram and later from the prime minister himself of being unaware about the raids and not sanctioning them. Chidambaram said he was very unhappy about it and had spoken to the concerned minister (Narayanswamy) after which the searches were stopped at Stalin’s house.

While the issue of the raids has raised a hornet’s nest with Union minister Narayanaswamy saying it proves the CBI is autonomous, the prime minister went red in the face admitting that the government was not aware of what the CBI was doing.

The assessment at the highest level in the government is that there is no danger to the government, and it would last its full term unless the government takes a call to advance elections by a few months. If it decides so, the government could call for elections after the monsoon session of Parliament say highly placed sources in the government.

The Congress is confident that the Janata Dal-United, the Left parties and Mayawati’s BSP do not want an early election as it does not suit them politically. Even Mulayam Singh Yadav does not want an immediate election as he needs time to put his party apparatus in order, post key officials and basically do the groundwork to ensure that SP can improve its strength in the Lok Sabha.

A senior Congress leader admitted that even if SP pulls out, there are other parties which will bail the government out as they need more time for the elections. As far as Mamata Banerjee’s offer to the government to support them on the Sri Lanka issue is concerned, Congress leaders say it is a tit for tat by Mamata. Since Mulayam Singh stepped in to save the UPA government after Mamata pulled the plug, she is now keen to retaliate and send the message that she may save the government if Mulayam Singh decides to pull out. It is being seen as a purely retaliatory gesture with senior Congress leaders unwilling to bet on how far Mamata’s cooperation would extend.

Congress leaders admit that the DMK was looking for an opportunity and the right issue to sever ties with them. It was just a question of what that issue would be.

However, the Congress also feels that this is the right time for them to move into election mode and use the remainder of the year to prepare the party state-wise for the polls. Rahul Gandhi has already begun the exercise both in Parliament by meeting groups of MPs state-wise as well as in the All India Congress Committee. He has been meeting Congress Legislature Party leaders and Pradesh Congress Committee presidents along with the concerned general secretaries. He has told the MPs to spend more time in their constituencies as they should not be caught unprepared. He has urged PCC presidents to initiate district and block level programmes.

The assembly election in Karnataka is crucial for the party, as a victory in the state would send a message that the Congress is still on a winning trail. It would also boost the morale of the party workers across the country.

The special group constituted for strategy and monitoring in Karnataka has the specific brief of ensuring that there is no trickery in ticket distribution and senior leaders do not damage the party prospects by working against each other. Rahul Gandhi’s diktat on Karnataka is clear: Congress has to win the state.

Sources say that there is a division of labour with Rahul Gandhi focused on reenergizing the party and putting systems in place while the government has been told to pass crucial bills like food security, land acquisition and other legislation which will help the Congress reach out to the poor and the marginalized, and helped them score a hat trick at the hustings.

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Renu Mittal in New Delhi