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Friday, 19 August 2011

Congress misses Sonia amid Anna gaffes

NEW DELHI: The Anna Hazare-centric aggression in Congress is making way for sober introspection with an increasing number of party leaders punching holes in the party's faltering strategy, a departure underlining the disarray in the ruling party with many linking it to the absence of supremo Sonia Gandhi.

Congress ministers and MPs on Friday protested the aggressive stance against Anna as manifested in accusing the Gandhian of corruption and branding him of being propped up by foreign forces. Delhi MP Sandeep Dikshit said, "It was a mistake to arrest Anna. The government has realized it's mistake and rectified it. I want the way Anna has supported the public, he should also guide the government and help break this impasse."

The humble words marked a drastic change from statements accusing Anna of being "corrupt from head to toe" and his agitation being propped up by "foreign hand". A minister said the fundamental mistake in the Centre's approach in tackling Anna was the raised pitch of its interlocutors. "We are aligned with the sentiment of the agitation - which is corruption - but we projected ourselves as antagonistic to it," he lamented.

The counter-Anna operation, replete with flip-flops and poor strategies, has set off murmurs that the Gandhi's absence had reduced it to a rudderless ship. Nothing explains it better than the media wing, which conveys the party line but is appearing a house of babble.

Manish Tiwari has been virtually grounded since his spiel "Anna is corrupt" triggered reaction among the middle class and Anna followers. The party has washed its hands off him, saying he chose his harsh words and went over the top with his anti-Anna tirade. It is, however, clear that he was only carrying out the orders decided at an AICC meeting.

Rashid Alvi's statement that the government should probe the US hand behind Anna's protests to destabilize India evoked sniggers and made the party explain later that he over-read the brief given to him.

The repeated flip-flops have raised serious questions about the efficacy of Congress to hold press briefings in the current crisis, with many seeing the cancellation of daily interaction with scribes as an attempt to end its misery, albeit temporarily.

The sustained failure has led to a strong section in the party train its guns on "lawyer advisers" of the prime minister, with the Opposition zeroing in on Kapil Sibal, who is also a favourite whipping boy of the civil society. The attack on lawyer advisers by BJP leader Arun Jaitley has ironically met with cheers in the Congress, which feels they enjoy disproportionate weight in the party and disagree with their strategy.

Gandhi is said to be missed because party leaders find an absence of political approach in dealing with crisis management, but are unable to reach the government brass directing the operation.


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