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Capital Matters

Capital Grapevine   

China backs `iron friend’ on Masood Azhar and gets isolated in world forum

Even if the objective behind Rahul Gandhi’s cheap shot was to somehow detract from Narendra Modi’s image of a strong leader, his barb failed to hit home. Taunting the Prime Minister for China’s refusal to sanction Masood Azhar as a global terrorist in the UNSC only revealed his own lack of maturity and an abiding failure to grow up. Rivalry and bitterness of partisan domestic politics should be kept separate from the intricacies and nuances of foreign policy. But Rahul Gandhi follows no rules, period.

The way he railed against Modi after China alone among fifteen members blocked the move to blacklist Azhar as a global terrorist, it would suggest as if he actually wanted Modi to fly across to Beijing and slap Xi Jinping across the face. This alone would have convinced the Great Helmsman of the Grand Old Party that Modi indeed is a strong leader with a “Chappan inch ki Chatti”. Such a childish reaction of the Congress President came as no surprise. Even though India had pushed China in a corner as the lone hold-out in the 15-member UNSC in failing to rebuke its `iron friend’ for harbouring a global terrorist. It was a diplomatic plus for India.

Meanwhile, commentators lamenting a lack of stronger condemnation of China only reflect a pro-American bias and/or are oblivious to the geopolitical situation and the way diplomacy is conducted between nations of asymmetrical military and economic prowess. China feeling obliged to explain itself in protecting a globally known terrorist is proof enough that the Indian diplomacy is succeeding in forcing it on the back foot on Masood Azhar.

Of course, if Rahul had a clue how India had fared in the same UNSC when the UPA government wanted Azhar to be declared a `global terrorist’ he would have refrained from making such a tart comment. Sushma Swaraj did well to set the record straight. In 2009, in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack, when India sought to have Azhar blacklisted, it had no other nation on its side. This time the move was initiated by USA, France and UK and all other members barring China endorsed it.

Mind you, in 2009 India moved the UNSC after Azhar’s jihadis had killed over 170 innocents in Mumbai and devastated iconic properties. But India had to remain content with zilch support, so fully isolated it was in the UNSC. Following Pulwama, fourteen of the fifteen members of the Security Council took the lead in seeking to blackball the terror ringmaster. And yet in the warped mind of the Congress boss it was a diplomatic disaster. Does one need to say more on the Congress Chief’s mental growth?

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Priyanka makes little impact

She was supposed to be the key to the revival of the Congress Party. She had more charisma, more spontaneity than her somewhat awkward brother who nonetheless was handed the key to the Family Firm by a doting mother. Yet, we are sorry to report that contrary to the friendly TV channels, Priyanka Gandhi has not exactly set the Yamuna on fire.

Her two public shows since she formally entered active politics were underwhelming. The street show in Lucknow which was billed to be her launch- pad saw rather poor participation, though Congress leaders from various provinces dutifully marked presence. Again, her public meeting in Ahemdabad last week after the passage of the obligatory resolutions by the Congress Working Committee attracted thin audiences.

Her induction has made no difference to the decision-making process of the party either. The same confusion, the same tentativeness persists. It is best illustrated by the ongoing yes-no- maybe stance in Delhi. With the poll process already on, the party has failed to make up its mind whether or not to tie up with the treacherous AAP. Its initial no was backed by a sound logic. But then dithering started, with Kejriwal continuing to supplicate in the hope that after the Congress gives in he would gobble up whatever remains of the party’s base in the capital.

Ditto in some other states, notably in UP, where instead of settling for seats in proportion to its ground-support, the party insists on a large number of seats which Akhilesh and Mayawati would never grant. Instead, the SP-BSP duo would play spoiler in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. There is confusion in Maharashtra as well.

The Congress’s indecisiveness stems from its failure to come to terms with its much diminished popular support. It cannot live in the past. Its dilemma is clear: whether to share power as per its ground strength, or to go it alone until it has rebuilt itself brick-by-brick to regain its old glory. It is hovering between these two positions.

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Why is she not contesting?

While still on the Congress, it is puzzling why Priyanka Gandhi is not contesting the poll. If she had, there would have been a genuine hope of its tally in UP going up from the current two to at least three. Or is the task of campaigning in eastern UP so hazardous she wouldn’t be able to devote time to her own constituency --- when her brother is such a big leader that he can contest and take charge of campaigning nation-wide?

Or the reason for not contesting is the fear that in case Rahul failed to make it to the Lok Sabha, and she did, courtiers would insist on her being made the leader of the party in the House. Or could it be she has opted out fearing the spotlight that would remain on her land-shark husband, Robert Vadra. Whatever the reason, such speculation assails Congressmen in UP.

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Double whammy for Delhi voters

It is a double whammy for the Delhi voters. They seem to be paying for being fooled by the Aam Aadmi Party through call- centre reminders that their deleted votes were restored courtesy the Kejriwal party and therefore they should vote for AAP.

The call centres in question were set up for the much-touted home delivery of services, such as birth and death certificates, but it was a ploy to carry out Kejriwal’s con trick. After falsely claiming that 30 lakh names were deleted, he pressed the taxpayer-funded call centres to falsely claim that it was he who had them restoed.

A video on social media exposes the crookedness. A harassed householder is heard shouting at the caller, “ … My grandfather died in 1987 before anyone heard of the Aadhaar card, and you are insisting you have restored his voter card… you have got the list of those in whose name power bills are issued and you are harassing them… you phoned me three times, it is not a wrong number… last time I may have voted for you, but this time no way will I vote for such fraudsters…” (ENDS)