For months, the UPA mantra was growth and development at the cost of food and general inflation. Gigantic projects and investments at the cost of spreading Maoist violence. Infrastructure development over the rights of tribals and other indigenous people, no matter the environment.
Suddenly, the Congress seems to have done a u-turn at a hairpin bend. P. Chidambaram‘s my-way-or-the-highway approach has few takers in his own party. Dozens of projects are hanging fire under Jairam Ramesh‘s environment ministry. There is talk of giving locals a 26% stake in projects, etc.
Course-correction? Or just clever politics?
The veteran editor and wordsmith M.J. Akbar provides perspective on the Congress’ sudden leftward lurch, as evidenced by party general secretary Rahul Gandhi‘s rally in Orissa after the Vedanta project had been shown the door, in The Sunday Times of India:
“It is axiomatic that a largely impoverished nation needs a political party that the poor can identify with. The Congress has set out to be the party of the poor in daytime, and of the rich at night. Its sunlight politics will fetch votes, its twilight policies will enable it to govern.
“This is an extremely clever act whose opening scenes are being played out for a new generation that is vague about Indira Gandhi and amnesiac about Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The hero of this drama must have the charisma to dazzle the poor and the flexibility to keep the rich onside.
“That is the challenge before Rahul Gandhi. His avowed role is to be the guardian of the poor in Delhi, which means that the poor need protection from Delhi. He is at home with the elite in the evening and is now making the effort to capture the sunshine hours.”
Cartoon: courtesy Prasad Radhakrishnan/ Mail Today
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