Modi Vs Rahul in 2019?
Rise of the Congress in the saffron bastion; When the Ramlila grounds turned red and Noida may get an airport at last
The Congress – once in an ICU - has been resuscitated and is fighting to take on the Narendra Modi juggernaut in the 2019 elections. In Chhattisgarh no one expected Raman Singh to cave in. That a party without a chief ministerial face could put up such a stupendous performance – speaks volumes about the underlying anti-incumbency in the state. Raman Singh had been an efficient administrator, and voter fatigue with the BJP for three terms may have contributed to the landslide win for the Congress. Madhya Pradesh, by any reckoning, is a political bellwether. It is witnessing a see-saw battle between a reinvigorated Congress under Kamal Nath (ably supported by Jyotiraditya Scindia) and outgoing Chief Minister, the low-key Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The state has continuously had an agri-boom, yet farmers there are in distress. It has efficiently reached out to the poor and Chouhan is more of a benevolent “mama” (uncle) than a ruler far removed from ground realities. Many saw him as a long-term player, whose governance template could be used nationally to mount an election campaign around a welfare state.
Many in the BJP had given up on Rajasthan, so high was the anti-incumbency against outgoing CM Vasundhara Raje. By that reckoning, Raje managed to put up a good fight, and the Congress may need allies to form a government. In Telangana, K. C. Chandrasekhar Rao continues to ride the ‘Jai Telangana’ wave, and has virtually swept the state, pushing the grand alliance of the Congress and N. Chandrababu Naidu and others to the periphery. In Mizoram, the Congress has been edged out, with the Opposition Mizo National Front scoring a thumping win. The election results say a lot about Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s evolution as a leader. He was initially projected as a leader, who groomed Young Turks, but in both Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Gandhi’s confidantes, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot, will have to wait in the wings, while seniors like Kamal Nath and Ashok Gehlot take to the driver’s seat. To sum up, the Congress’s rise in the heartland does poses a threat to the BJP in 2019. Will it then be Modi vs Rahul in 2019? The jury is still out on this!
— Team BW
Painting Ramlila Maidan A Lurid Red
Prices of farm produce are falling and are below the minimum support price offered to farmers by the government. Left-leaning peasant organisations and farmers took to the streets in Delhi, in a bid to make the government sit up and take notice. Ashok Dalwai, CEO of the National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA), though, says the government had already taken measures to ensure remunerative prices for farm produce through a comprehensive package of policies, based on market reforms and robust procurement operations. Bhartiya Janta Party Kisan Morcha president Virendra Singh Mast says the demands for loan waivers were unjustified. But who heard them at the Ramlila Grounds?
— Prabodh Dubey
An Airport At Noida At Last
The much-awaited, much-delayed construction of the Noida International Airport (NIAL) at Jewar, in Gautam Buddha Nagar seems to be moving at last. The Uttar Pradesh government under Yogi Adityanath has taken several key decisions that should make the Rs 16,000 crore project see the light of day in 2019.
The upcoming airport, for instance, will be executed as a public-private-partnership (PPP). Rs 4,500 crore has been cleared for acquiring 1,240 hectares of land. The acquired land will be given to NIAL on a 90-year lease.
The UP government also assures a level playing field for global infrastructure majors vis-à-vis Indian companies keen to bid for the NIAL airport project, which has been hanging fire since it was first conceived in 2000. Let’s hope that the jinx has worn off at last.
— Ashish Sinha