Bhagwant Mann for CM?
There is a quiet confidence in the Aam Aadmi Party camp after the high voter turnout during the Punjab elections with the party sensing a win. The big question, of course, is should this optimism turn out to be correct, who will be the party’s CM face? Will Arvind Kejriwal shift to the neighbouring state and fulfill his dream of ruling an entire state? It is correct that he has denied this during the campaign, claiming that the AAP’s CM face will be from the state, but turnarounds can always be “organised” with pressure from the cadre. Or will he stick to his word and choose a candidate from within the AAP unit in Punjab? In case of the latter, it is Bhagwant Mann who will win the popular vote, for he has a certain mass base in the state that is not shared by any other leader. In which case, Kejriwal will get more than he bargained for, as it is not easy to control Mann.
But this speculation is interesting given the PM’s recents comments to Mann during his reply to the President’s address in Parliament where he quoted a Charwaha poem saying Jab tak jio mauj karo, karz karo aur ghee piyo (live well as long as you are alive, have fun and drink ghee), and then he turned around and singled out Mann, saying magar agar aap hote toh kuch aur hi peene ko bolte (if it was you, you would want to drink something else perhaps). Mann, however, did not see any humour in this!
The Jat Vote
The Jats voted for the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha and this had given the BJP some hope in these Assembly elections. But three things seem to be driving the Jat vote away from the BJP. One is the presence of Ajit Singh’s RLD. Evoking Chaudhary Charan Singh’s legacy, he has fielded as many as 57 candidates this time round. The other is demonetisation which has made a huge impact in this sugarcane belt. A third factor is the recent agitation for Jat reservations. The Jats are not happy with Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
The Gen Next Connects
Much is being made of the optics of two Gen Next leaders coming together. The jeans clad, smartphone toting duo make for great TV as they bond together and take on PM Modi. But this is not the first time Rahul has played this youth card. Does anyone remember the alliance with Omar Abdullah and Rahul Gandhi in 2008 where there was much talk of the Rahul-Omar dostana and their talk of development and new age politics? Nothing much happened really, with the Congress pulling out of the alliance midway. Even then, just as Rahul made it clear that he preferred to ally with Akhilesh over Mulayam, he had made it clear that the Congress would support the younger Abdullah over his father Farooq. The one difference between that alliance and this one is of course that unlike Omar, Akhilesh Yadav is not a first time CM. He has experience under his belt and this may help stabilise the alliance. As a side note, what is interesting is that while the SP-Congress seat sharing negotiations were on, and the talks were in danger of breaking down with the Congress demanding more seats, Omar tweeted some advice to his former ally, saying: “One can really bargain from a position of strength, so am not entirely sure why the Congress thinks it can extract more seats from the SP.” Interesting to see the Gen Next connect here.