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Pallavi Ghosh
Tuesday , March 15, 2011

High stakes elections for Congress

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Not many noticed when Sonia Gandhi quietly made Digvijaya Singh in-charge of Assam last month. Despite the general perception that Congress has no real opponent in the state and that a win can be taken for granted, Sonia was unwilling to take a chance. Digvijaya replaced law minister Veerappa Moily who is seen as slow and not clued in. Digvijaya is dynamic, hands on and more importantly, seen as a champion of minority rights. This becomes significant given the fact that in Assam, Muslim votes count a great deal. The larger point I am trying to drive at is that Sonia is giving a lot of importance to the Assembly elections. She usually does but this time there seems to be a mission to it. It's a high stake elections for Congress. Even though the two most interesting states where elections are being held are Tamil Nadu....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Finally, a Congress MP

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A minister close to 10 Janpath told me: "Being a Congressman is all about sweat and no equity". Shashi Tharoor must have realised this, after losing his job. Tharoor is well travelled, moves in high profile and well-connected circles, is articulate and world wise. Unfortunately, he wasn't wise about the ways of the Congress party. To become a Congressi, you have to take a silent, unwritten pledge: "I cease to become an individual with a mind of my own." Only that Congress leader ticks who speaks less, makes time to go to Congress headquarters, has tea with the old guards of the party. Tharoor was none of the above. He was seldom seen at 24 Akbar Road, the party headquarters. The only time he turned was just after the cattle class controversy. Sources say he was given a lesson in the art of speaking as a Congress....

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Reporting Rahul

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Recently, during Rahul's visit to Thrissur, a lensman trying to click him was hit by an SPG and lost an eye in the process. We, covering Rahul, have lost our sleep. In his beginning years, Rahul kept away from the public, keeping his public interactions few and guarded. It was easy to track him because he was mostly indoors or in Amethi. Over the years, reporting Rahul Gandhi has become a nightmare. He turns up everywhere, speaks more often and is more aggressive. Handling a shy, reticent Rahul was actually easier. He may not have been a television journalist's delight with few sound bytes but at least he let us sleep in peace. Now, it's difficult to know what his schedule is likely to be. He can turn up just about anywhere. Those who think Rahul's room at the Congress headquarters is permanently locked, guys....

Saturday , October 31, 2009

Lessons from Indira

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A general secretary taking charge of Andhra Pradesh during YS Rajashekhar Reddy's tenure went to meet Sonia. She wished him luck but also told him to "see to it that YSR's opponents are not crushed by him". Closest to Indira and her favourite bahu Sonia had learnt from Indira's mistakes. Absolute power usually destroys the one who exerts it. So keep the party divided. Sonia encourages it. It's there to see. The first leader she met as soon as Haryana results poured in was not chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, but his arch rival Birender Singh. Birender Singh has lost in these assemble elections, ending competition to Hooda. Sonia was people tell me more worried about this than the fact that Congress had not performed well in the state. Sonia has been watching Indira. She has learnt from Indira's mistakes. But she has also carried on....

Monday , October 26, 2009

Why the Congress needs to keep its partners happy

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May 2009. A day before counting for Lok Sabha polls, Sonia was spotted coming out of a swanky shopping complex. She had bought sarees from her favourite store and had a quiet lunch. October 2009. Hours before counting was to begin for Haryana, Hooda was caught by cameras enjoying a badminton match. Going by the unexpected results, Sonia seemed to have earned her rendezvous. While Hooda's match missed some points, the Congress was let struggling for help to form a government. As results for Haryana began pouring in, Sonia's thoughts must have gone to former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Rajashekhar Reddy. He had promised in the run-up to state elections in 2009 that he would come back with a larger margin. Sonia had given him a free hand and he had delivered, a point raised by Sonia herself at her condolence speech after....

Tuesday , September 29, 2009

Table Manners

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A general secretaries meeting with Sonia had just ended. One of them came back to her for a brief and found her wiping the dining table. A sheepish Sonia told the general secretary, "People leave the table dirty and I have to clean up". Post Rajendra Shekhawat being given a ticket for Maharashtra elections, it's going to be much more difficult for Sonia to clean up. Rajendra Shekhawat is not only the President's son. Worse he has been given the ticket in place of a two-time sitting MLA, Sunil Deshmukh, who also happens to be the finance minister of the state. It goes against what Rahul has been telling his boys -- do your work, merit will pay. For Sunil Deshmukh it hasn't. For Rajendra Shekhawat, lineage has clicked. Ironically, Shekhawat's candidature has reinforced what Rahul has been lamenting, that a powerful surname and a....

Saturday , June 27, 2009

Look who's talking now?

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Not everyone within the Congress was watching the developments in the BJP with glee. Some were actually a bit envious, moaning the fact that in their party no such freedom of speech or even letter writing was possible. One would have thought that armed with more than 200 seats, a performance which took many a Congress neta, even those who claim to have been born a Congressi, by surprise, would give the party confidence to permit a little democracy. It a party which should have had its netas walking straight and tall. The Congress headquarters in Delhi should have been smelling of victory, confidence and freedom. Instead, it's a party which has been hushed. Congress leaders who would happily have endless cups of tea with beat reporters, have told them to keep away. In private, they admit that they have been told by the 'high command' to....


More about Pallavi Ghosh

Pallavi Ghosh is IBN7's Political Editor and has been covering the Congress and the Government for over a decade. She was the first to interview Rahul Gandhi when he joined politics in 2004 and has been following him closely since then. She was also among the first to interview to Sonia Gandhi after the Women's Reservation Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha. She has covered 3 General Elections and gets very excited with any political development. She’s doing a PhD in International Relations and has worked for the BBC, The Telegraph, NDTV and Aaj Tak in her 12-year career.


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