As the election season draws close, there will be no shortage of challenges for Rahul Gandhi, the vice-president of the Congress, and most likely its candidate for prime minister. Gandhi’s campaign, though seemingly energetic, has been almost smothered by the rally tour of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
Though Modi has detractors within his own party, including the formidable Sushma Swaraj, they have been more or less silent for the larger interest of the party. This is helping the BJP put up a united front in the elections, as was evidenced when the party chose Dr Harsh Vardhan over Vijay Goel as its chief minister candidate for the Delhi elections. There was not a murmur of public dissent, however, strong the private bickering may have been.
NCP leader Sharad Pawar, though has no such qualms about expressing his displeasure over his party’s chief ally in the UPA government, Congress. He has been vocal about Gandhi’s ability to lead the coalition to victory in 2014. Effectively, he was telling his party, working with the Congress will be tough if Gandhi is going to be the face of the alliance.
This is good posturing. Pawar knows that he has few options, and since the NCP does not have a strong national presence, this is the best way to bargain for more seats for the general elections. Pawar’s other option is to divorce the Congress and end a marriage that has seen more fights between partners than any constructive relationship.
The latter option can give the party the independence it wants, but it will end up committing political suicide as the Congress-NCP vote will be split with their prime enemy, the BJP, gaining the advantage. Which is why Pawar’s harsh statement on the Congress scion is intriguing, to say the least. He has nothing much to gain, and everything to lose.