Forget graft, political wisdom is Congress mantra

Forget graft, political wisdom is Congress mantra

Political pragmatism appears to score over morality in the Congress as it goes about preparing for the Lok Sabha elections after a rout in the recent polls in four states.

Despite party vice-president Rahul Gandhi's overdrive for anti-corruption laws, the Congress appears to be following plain political wisdom while eyeing alliances with parties such as the RJD and the JMM for the Lok Sabha elections next year.

Earlier this week, minutes after RJD supremo Lalu Prasad walked out of Ranchi jail, where he was lodged following his conviction in the fodder scam, he received a phone call from Congress president Sonia Gandhi triggering speculation about an alliance with the party in Bihar and Jharkhand.

Senior Congress leaders here also were in favour of an alliance with the RJD and the LJP in Bihar and neighbouring Jharkhand for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The two states elect 54 members to the Lok Sabha.

Incidentally, in Jharkhand, the Congress has propped up a government led by JMM supremo Shibu Soren’s son Hemant. The senior Soren also has a chequered past with his name cropping up in the infamous JMM bribery scandal in which the party’s MPs were allegedly paid huge amounts to vote in support the minority government led by the then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao.

The alliance with the JMM would continue for Lok Sabha elections, Congress leaders said adding that the party was also veering towards an alliance with the RJD in both the states.

“Lalu has been convicted not the RJD,” was how one senior leader remarked when asked about the alliance with the RJD in the backdrop of Rahul’s strong views against corruption. Congress leaders believe that the Congress-RJD-LJP combination would be unbeatable in the state where caste equations matter more than issues. “There are not people in Bihar, there are only castes,” remarked another Congress leader.

The contrary stands of the Congress do not end with the alliances. The party is also considering rehabilitation of former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan, who was named in a charge sheet was filed by the CBI in the Adarsh Society scam.

The first indications of the Congress shielding Chavan were available when Maharashtra Governor denied permission to the CBI to prosecute him. On Friday, the Maharashtra government rejected the report of a judicial commission of inquiry in the Adarsh scam which indicted several politicians, including three former chief ministers for “blatant violation” of statutory provisions.

All this comes at a time when Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has launched an overdrive to burnish the Congress’ anti-corruption credentials by taking a firm stand to ensure the passage of the Lokpal Bill by Parliament.

Gandhi has also pitched for a strong anti-corruption laws and wanted the government to extend the Winter Session of Parliament to pass the pending legislations in this regard.

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