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Junior Raj

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<b>BACK TO BASICS </b><br><br><b>RAHUL GANDHI <br></b><br><br>As the eldest son of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, Rahul can claim to be the bluest-blooded new generation political leader on the horizon. But unlike his father, Rajiv, who rode on a huge sympathy wave after Indira Gandhi's assassination to bag the biggest ever majority in Parliament, this 41-year-old Congress heir apparent is having to work hard to earn his political spurs. His high-voltage, personalised UP campaign, carefully crafted around his family name, proved to be a flop show with voters sending out a strong message that the down-to-earth, direct appeal of local boy Akhilesh Yadav had more traction in an assembly election. Rahul will have to now go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate his politics to be a player in the next Lok Sabha elections. <br>The challenges are enormous, the biggest being the slow but steady decay of the party organisation. It is visible across the country, proved not only by the poor performance in UP but also by the debacle in Punjab and Uttarakhand. Rahul faces another problem. The India that is emerging seems to have lost its taste for umbrella national parties like the Congress and is choosing regional parties and leaders who represent their aspirations better. They want their own leaders at the high table on Raisina Hill so that they get a better bargain when the development pie is being shared. Rahul will have to consider allowing his party to go back to the era of his great grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, when the Congress was run as an alliance of powerful regional satraps. Indira Gandhi emasculated them when she fought this syndicate to establish her authority. <br>Today the central government is increasingly being run by a coalition of independent parties. Can Rahul create a coalition within, under the umbrella of the Congress? His strength lies in his unchallenged position as the party's top leader. He also has the advantage of a pan-Indian appeal. He has often said that he has time on his side. At 41, he can certainly afford to spend some years in the opposition to rebuild his party. He was a reluctant entrant into politics, having come in initially as his mother's helper. But after sticking it out for eight years, he seems to have developed a taste for it. Rahul Gandhi is here to stay, he assured the people of UP everywhere he went. Now he has to prove that he is a worthy heir to the Nehru-Gandhi legacy.

Junior Raj

With Inputs From Praveen Kumar, Sameer Arshad, Ambarish Mishra, Arati R Jerath | March 10, 2012


BACK TO BASICS

RAHUL GANDHI


As the eldest son of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, Rahul can claim to be the bluest-blooded new generation political leader on the horizon. But unlike his father, Rajiv, who rode on a huge sympathy wave after Indira Gandhi's assassination to bag the biggest ever majority in Parliament, this 41-year-old Congress heir apparent is having to work hard to earn his political spurs. His high-voltage, personalised UP campaign, carefully crafted around his family name, proved to be a flop show with voters sending out a strong message that the down-to-earth, direct appeal of local boy Akhilesh Yadav had more traction in an assembly election. Rahul will have to now go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate his politics to be a player in the next Lok Sabha elections.
The challenges are enormous, the biggest being the slow but steady decay of the party organisation. It is visible across the country, proved not only by the poor performance in UP but also by the debacle in Punjab and Uttarakhand. Rahul faces another problem. The India that is emerging seems to have lost its taste for umbrella national parties like the Congress and is choosing regional parties and leaders who represent their aspirations better. They want their own leaders at the high table on Raisina Hill so that they get a better bargain when the development pie is being shared. Rahul will have to consider allowing his party to go back to the era of his great grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, when the Congress was run as an alliance of powerful regional satraps. Indira Gandhi emasculated them when she fought this syndicate to establish her authority.
Today the central government is increasingly being run by a coalition of independent parties. Can Rahul create a coalition within, under the umbrella of the Congress? His strength lies in his unchallenged position as the party's top leader. He also has the advantage of a pan-Indian appeal. He has often said that he has time on his side. At 41, he can certainly afford to spend some years in the opposition to rebuild his party. He was a reluctant entrant into politics, having come in initially as his mother's helper. But after sticking it out for eight years, he seems to have developed a taste for it. Rahul Gandhi is here to stay, he assured the people of UP everywhere he went. Now he has to prove that he is a worthy heir to the Nehru-Gandhi legacy.

<b>COMING INTO HIS OWN </b><br><br><b>UDDHAV THACKERAY <br></b><br><br>With the cash-rich Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (annual budget: Rs. 21, 000 crore) under his belt, Uddhav Bal Thackeray is obviously purring with delight. Political pundits say the Thackeray scion has passed the litmus test with flying colours - the Shiv Sena and its two allies, the BJP and the Republican Party of India (Ramdas Athavle faction), won a little over 100 seats in the 227-member civic body. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has failed miserably to clip the Sena's wings in Mumbai, say political observers. Uddhav may lack his father's - and his estranged cousin, Raj Thackeray's - charisma and rabble-rousing ability. However, he compensates the loss with political savvy and organizational skills. Uddhav and his acolytes have established a firm control over the party machinery, say Sena insiders. With an ailing Bal Thackeray confined to his well-fortified Bandra residence, it is Uddhav who often hops around Maharashtra building a rapport with the rural voters. Uddhav's top priority is to project the Sena as Maharashtra's major regional force ahead of the 2014 state assembly elections in Maharashtra. "The latest poll results in UP, Punjab and Goa show that voters prefer regional parties and local icons to national parties and pan-Indian heroes, " he says.

Junior Raj

With Inputs From Praveen Kumar, Sameer Arshad, Ambarish Mishra, Arati R Jerath | March 10, 2012


COMING INTO HIS OWN

UDDHAV THACKERAY


With the cash-rich Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (annual budget: Rs. 21, 000 crore) under his belt, Uddhav Bal Thackeray is obviously purring with delight. Political pundits say the Thackeray scion has passed the litmus test with flying colours - the Shiv Sena and its two allies, the BJP and the Republican Party of India (Ramdas Athavle faction), won a little over 100 seats in the 227-member civic body. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has failed miserably to clip the Sena's wings in Mumbai, say political observers. Uddhav may lack his father's - and his estranged cousin, Raj Thackeray's - charisma and rabble-rousing ability. However, he compensates the loss with political savvy and organizational skills. Uddhav and his acolytes have established a firm control over the party machinery, say Sena insiders. With an ailing Bal Thackeray confined to his well-fortified Bandra residence, it is Uddhav who often hops around Maharashtra building a rapport with the rural voters. Uddhav's top priority is to project the Sena as Maharashtra's major regional force ahead of the 2014 state assembly elections in Maharashtra. "The latest poll results in UP, Punjab and Goa show that voters prefer regional parties and local icons to national parties and pan-Indian heroes, " he says.

<b>UNEASY LEGACY </b><br><br><b>OMAR ABDULLAH <br></b><br><br>Omar Abdullah made great strides very early in his political career, becoming a minister in the BJP-led government at 29 in 1999. He came across as a refreshing contrast to his happygo-lucky father, Farooq Abdullah. But his lack of connect - having been born, largely brought up and educated outside J&K - has proved his biggest bane. He earned acclaim as a Union minister but his alliance with the BJP antagonised his support base in the Valley. Omar took over as the leader of his National Conference and contested assembly elections in 2002. He could not even manage to hold on to his family pocket borough while his party lost power to the fledgling PDP. Omar remained a fringe player in state politics till he took a tough stand on police firing on unarmed protesters and his famous I-ama-Muslim-and-an-Indian speech in Parliament in 2008. He was particularly able to connect with the youth and emerged as a realistic politician. He rode to power on a historic 68 per cent voter turnout in the last elections. But he has since failed to deliver on his promises. Omar's promise of revoking the much-hated AFSPA "in a few days" in October last year remains unfulfilled like his "zero-level <br>tolerance" pledge on rights abuses. Worse, more civilians have died in armed forces' firing on protesters than in militant violence under Omar's rule.

Junior Raj

With Inputs From Praveen Kumar, Sameer Arshad, Ambarish Mishra, Arati R Jerath | March 10, 2012


UNEASY LEGACY

OMAR ABDULLAH


Omar Abdullah made great strides very early in his political career, becoming a minister in the BJP-led government at 29 in 1999. He came across as a refreshing contrast to his happygo-lucky father, Farooq Abdullah. But his lack of connect - having been born, largely brought up and educated outside J&K - has proved his biggest bane. He earned acclaim as a Union minister but his alliance with the BJP antagonised his support base in the Valley. Omar took over as the leader of his National Conference and contested assembly elections in 2002. He could not even manage to hold on to his family pocket borough while his party lost power to the fledgling PDP. Omar remained a fringe player in state politics till he took a tough stand on police firing on unarmed protesters and his famous I-ama-Muslim-and-an-Indian speech in Parliament in 2008. He was particularly able to connect with the youth and emerged as a realistic politician. He rode to power on a historic 68 per cent voter turnout in the last elections. But he has since failed to deliver on his promises. Omar's promise of revoking the much-hated AFSPA "in a few days" in October last year remains unfulfilled like his "zero-level
tolerance" pledge on rights abuses. Worse, more civilians have died in armed forces' firing on protesters than in militant violence under Omar's rule.

<b>THE JAT INHERITANCE </b><br><br><b>JAYANT CHAUDHARY <br></b><br><br>Like many other political heirs, 33-year-old Jayant Chadhary is rather overqualified for his job as an MP from Mathura. The grandson of former prime minister Charan Singh, and son of RLD chief Ajit Singh, Chaudhary junior has done his MSc in accounting and finance from the London School of Economics. He also holds a political science degree from a London university. Chaudhuary's agenda revolves around rural UP, especially agriculture. "Our agriculture related infrastructure like the mandis, irrigation and storage needs investment. Rural electrification is another sector which needs private investment. We will, if voted to power, launch an ambitious programme to electrify non-grid connected rural areas through decentralised renewable energy technologies and village mini-grids through the private public participation mode, " he had said while speaking to TOI-Crest on an earlier occasion. He also played a key role in raising the Land Acquisition issue and has introduced a Private Member Bill on Land Acquisition in the Lok Sabha. He has also been putting together a front to get job reservations for the Jats. Chaudhry had managed to snatch the Mant constituency of Mathura from sixtime MLA Shyam Sunder Sharma, who, this time contested as a Trinamool Congress candidate. He was also projected as a chief ministerial candidate by some RLD workers during the sixth phase of assembly elections when the party had the 10 seats it won in the 2007 assembly elections at stake. According to an Association for Democratic Reform (ADR) report, Chaudhary has assets worth over Rs 6 crore, which include over Rs 2 crore as movable property and over Rs 4 crore as immovable property. He also has liabilities worth Rs 26 lakh, according to the affidavit he filed with the Election Commission.

Junior Raj

With Inputs From Praveen Kumar, Sameer Arshad, Ambarish Mishra, Arati R Jerath | March 10, 2012


THE JAT INHERITANCE

JAYANT CHAUDHARY


Like many other political heirs, 33-year-old Jayant Chadhary is rather overqualified for his job as an MP from Mathura. The grandson of former prime minister Charan Singh, and son of RLD chief Ajit Singh, Chaudhary junior has done his MSc in accounting and finance from the London School of Economics. He also holds a political science degree from a London university. Chaudhuary's agenda revolves around rural UP, especially agriculture. "Our agriculture related infrastructure like the mandis, irrigation and storage needs investment. Rural electrification is another sector which needs private investment. We will, if voted to power, launch an ambitious programme to electrify non-grid connected rural areas through decentralised renewable energy technologies and village mini-grids through the private public participation mode, " he had said while speaking to TOI-Crest on an earlier occasion. He also played a key role in raising the Land Acquisition issue and has introduced a Private Member Bill on Land Acquisition in the Lok Sabha. He has also been putting together a front to get job reservations for the Jats. Chaudhry had managed to snatch the Mant constituency of Mathura from sixtime MLA Shyam Sunder Sharma, who, this time contested as a Trinamool Congress candidate. He was also projected as a chief ministerial candidate by some RLD workers during the sixth phase of assembly elections when the party had the 10 seats it won in the 2007 assembly elections at stake. According to an Association for Democratic Reform (ADR) report, Chaudhary has assets worth over Rs 6 crore, which include over Rs 2 crore as movable property and over Rs 4 crore as immovable property. He also has liabilities worth Rs 26 lakh, according to the affidavit he filed with the Election Commission.

<b>'KAKAJI' TAKES CHARGE </b><br><br><b>SUKHBIR SINGH BADAL <br></b><br><br>If you are the president of a party set up in 1920 - one of the country's oldest - the popular vision would be of a venerable patriarch, so busy with safeguarding the institution that he or she has no time for the good life. But Sukhbir Singh Badal isn't your archetypal keeper of old, crumbling institutions. He is the new-age political CEO who turns around fortunes. And, if there was a list of Fortune-500 political parties, his Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) would rank very high on it today. But, the great transformation of the party - from being intrinsically rooted in religion to a dynamic outfit talking of cutting edge development - pales when one looks at the makeover of Sukhbir himself. He has changed from the happy-go-lucky 'kakaji' growing up under the towering shadow of father Parkash Singh Badal to a master strategist who not only trumped a seasoned politician like Congress' Amarinder Singh but also changed the course of Punjab's history by beating anti-incumbency for the first time in 35 years since the state was re-organised in 1967. But, he is as much at ease in a kurta-pyjama as in a suit and tie. So when he unveiled the Right to Service Act, an Act that he said would have middlemen out of the way in government services, he presented it in a Steve Jobs-like fashion in Ludhiana. The man who was seen more as a businessman than a politician had pundits eating out of his hands on Tuesday as Punjab stared unbelievingly at the results. And daddy praised him for his "organisational skills. " Now that he has given his party another term on the plank of development, the leader's task is cut out. Sukhbir the politician will spend his time keeping SAD insulated from the burden of the past while Sukhbir the CEO will, hopefully, take the development agenda forward.

Junior Raj

With Inputs From Praveen Kumar, Sameer Arshad, Ambarish Mishra, Arati R Jerath | March 10, 2012


'KAKAJI' TAKES CHARGE

SUKHBIR SINGH BADAL


If you are the president of a party set up in 1920 - one of the country's oldest - the popular vision would be of a venerable patriarch, so busy with safeguarding the institution that he or she has no time for the good life. But Sukhbir Singh Badal isn't your archetypal keeper of old, crumbling institutions. He is the new-age political CEO who turns around fortunes. And, if there was a list of Fortune-500 political parties, his Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) would rank very high on it today. But, the great transformation of the party - from being intrinsically rooted in religion to a dynamic outfit talking of cutting edge development - pales when one looks at the makeover of Sukhbir himself. He has changed from the happy-go-lucky 'kakaji' growing up under the towering shadow of father Parkash Singh Badal to a master strategist who not only trumped a seasoned politician like Congress' Amarinder Singh but also changed the course of Punjab's history by beating anti-incumbency for the first time in 35 years since the state was re-organised in 1967. But, he is as much at ease in a kurta-pyjama as in a suit and tie. So when he unveiled the Right to Service Act, an Act that he said would have middlemen out of the way in government services, he presented it in a Steve Jobs-like fashion in Ludhiana. The man who was seen more as a businessman than a politician had pundits eating out of his hands on Tuesday as Punjab stared unbelievingly at the results. And daddy praised him for his "organisational skills. " Now that he has given his party another term on the plank of development, the leader's task is cut out. Sukhbir the politician will spend his time keeping SAD insulated from the burden of the past while Sukhbir the CEO will, hopefully, take the development agenda forward.

<b>BATTLE READY </b><br><br><b>JAGAN REDDY <br></b><br><br>The Congress is disintegrating in one of its strongest bastions - Andhra Pradesh. A part of the reason is that Jaganmohan Reddy has walked out of the party to set up his own outfit: YSR Congress. Jagan has taken along with him the GOP's Reddy support base. Analysts also think that a large section of the Dalits may have also left along with Jagan. The Congress had to let him go for the 1972 born scion of the YSR family had demanded the chief minister ship of AP and total control over the party in the state. <br>Jagan is these days touring the entire state, especially constituencies where bye-elections to the assembly are to be held. Most of the seats have fallen vacant because many of his loyalists had resigned from the Congress. With a fresh batch of these resignations being accepted by the AP assembly speaker last fortnight, another round of bye-elections is likely. Meanwhile, the CBI is zealously pursuing cases against Jagan and trying to nab him for amassing 'illegal assets' during his father YSR's regime. Political analysts before the UP elections were expecting Jagan to be arrested "any day" for his misdeeds. But post-UP, many feel that the Congress high command will eat crow and work to woo Jagan so that he has a Trinmool Congress or NCP-like arrangement with the party. This will secure the Congress for the next general election. On his part, Jagan, who brooks no dissent, is ready to play ball if allowed absolute freedom in Andhra Pradesh.

Junior Raj

With Inputs From Praveen Kumar, Sameer Arshad, Ambarish Mishra, Arati R Jerath | March 10, 2012


BATTLE READY

JAGAN REDDY


The Congress is disintegrating in one of its strongest bastions - Andhra Pradesh. A part of the reason is that Jaganmohan Reddy has walked out of the party to set up his own outfit: YSR Congress. Jagan has taken along with him the GOP's Reddy support base. Analysts also think that a large section of the Dalits may have also left along with Jagan. The Congress had to let him go for the 1972 born scion of the YSR family had demanded the chief minister ship of AP and total control over the party in the state.
Jagan is these days touring the entire state, especially constituencies where bye-elections to the assembly are to be held. Most of the seats have fallen vacant because many of his loyalists had resigned from the Congress. With a fresh batch of these resignations being accepted by the AP assembly speaker last fortnight, another round of bye-elections is likely. Meanwhile, the CBI is zealously pursuing cases against Jagan and trying to nab him for amassing 'illegal assets' during his father YSR's regime. Political analysts before the UP elections were expecting Jagan to be arrested "any day" for his misdeeds. But post-UP, many feel that the Congress high command will eat crow and work to woo Jagan so that he has a Trinmool Congress or NCP-like arrangement with the party. This will secure the Congress for the next general election. On his part, Jagan, who brooks no dissent, is ready to play ball if allowed absolute freedom in Andhra Pradesh.

<b>FLYING HIGH </b><br><br><b>NAVEEN PATNAIK </b><br><br><br>At 66, after 15 years in politics, Orissa CM Naveen Patnaik should not be lumped along with the new generation of hereditary leaders. But he can serve as a role model for the newcomers, having proved to be one of the most successful politicians of today. He was a typical Delhi boy who moved around in the capital's high society and went on to become an international jet-setter. To the disappointment of his father, the flamboyant and charismatic socialist leader Biju Patnaik, he showed little interest in politics. <br>His father's death changed him completely. Suddenly, Patnaik decided to try his luck at politics. He moved out of Delhi, buried himself in Orissa and threw himself completely into learning the ropes. He even had to learn the language, which he has finally mastered, although he still speaks with the trace of an accent. A shrewd alliance with the BJP propelled him to the post of CM in 2000 and he has not lost since, despite an election-eve break with the BJP in 2009. Today, he is in a commanding position in his state, having decimated both the BJP and Congress in successive polls, both local and parliamentary. <br>Till recently, Patnaik showed no desire to look beyond Orissa. But now, he seems to be wanting to spread his wings. Last month, he successfully co-opted regional leaders like Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress and Nitish Kumar of the JD(U) to stall the proposed counter-terrorism centre. Many are interpreting this as a gambit to move into a bigger national role.

Junior Raj

With Inputs From Praveen Kumar, Sameer Arshad, Ambarish Mishra, Arati R Jerath | March 10, 2012


FLYING HIGH

NAVEEN PATNAIK


At 66, after 15 years in politics, Orissa CM Naveen Patnaik should not be lumped along with the new generation of hereditary leaders. But he can serve as a role model for the newcomers, having proved to be one of the most successful politicians of today. He was a typical Delhi boy who moved around in the capital's high society and went on to become an international jet-setter. To the disappointment of his father, the flamboyant and charismatic socialist leader Biju Patnaik, he showed little interest in politics.
His father's death changed him completely. Suddenly, Patnaik decided to try his luck at politics. He moved out of Delhi, buried himself in Orissa and threw himself completely into learning the ropes. He even had to learn the language, which he has finally mastered, although he still speaks with the trace of an accent. A shrewd alliance with the BJP propelled him to the post of CM in 2000 and he has not lost since, despite an election-eve break with the BJP in 2009. Today, he is in a commanding position in his state, having decimated both the BJP and Congress in successive polls, both local and parliamentary.
Till recently, Patnaik showed no desire to look beyond Orissa. But now, he seems to be wanting to spread his wings. Last month, he successfully co-opted regional leaders like Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress and Nitish Kumar of the JD(U) to stall the proposed counter-terrorism centre. Many are interpreting this as a gambit to move into a bigger national role.

<b>MARATHA METTLE </b><br><br><b>AJIT PAWAR AND SUPRIYA SULE <br></b><br><br>Sharad Pawar's daughter has inherited two of her father's principal traits - grit and determination. However, many in Maharashtra's political circles think the beti lacks Papa Pawar's organisational skills and pragmatism. But there is no denying that Sule is the only woman among Maratha politcos who constitute the state's current ruling elite. Many in the NCP describe Sule as a "no-nonsense" leader who brooks no interference. "Supriyatai has her finger on the pulse of her voters in Baramati, "says a state NCP functionary, adding, "She calls for reports on the developmental works in her Lok Sabha constituency. "<br>She started off a decade ago, setting up a small office in the Y B Chavan Centre, a socio-cultural institute floated by Pawar in honour of his mentor. Sule took up issues pertaining to women and child welfare. The Pawar gameplan to help Sule create a niche for herself in state politics paid rich dividends. <br>Pawar's nephew, Maharashtra deputy CM Ajit Pawar, they say is the angry young man of Maharashtra politics. Government babus are petrified of him. "If you haven't done your homework, he may show you the door. He arrives in the office sharp at 9. 30 am, "says a bureaucrat. <br>Ajit cut his political teeth at Pawar's residence when the latter was CM in the late 1980s. However, Ajit, now well-entrenched in state politics, knows well that his uncle's example is pretty difficult to emulate, given the fractious nature of the Congress-NCP partnership in the state. Ajit's aggressive style is in sharp contrast with Pawar senior's insistence on consensus. He has been assiduously following his own agenda: cutting the Congress to size and expanding the NCP's vote-bank. Observers say Ajit will confine himself to Maharashtra while Sule will get to occupy the national stage.

Junior Raj

With Inputs From Praveen Kumar, Sameer Arshad, Ambarish Mishra, Arati R Jerath | March 10, 2012


MARATHA METTLE

AJIT PAWAR AND SUPRIYA SULE


Sharad Pawar's daughter has inherited two of her father's principal traits - grit and determination. However, many in Maharashtra's political circles think the beti lacks Papa Pawar's organisational skills and pragmatism. But there is no denying that Sule is the only woman among Maratha politcos who constitute the state's current ruling elite. Many in the NCP describe Sule as a "no-nonsense" leader who brooks no interference. "Supriyatai has her finger on the pulse of her voters in Baramati, "says a state NCP functionary, adding, "She calls for reports on the developmental works in her Lok Sabha constituency. "
She started off a decade ago, setting up a small office in the Y B Chavan Centre, a socio-cultural institute floated by Pawar in honour of his mentor. Sule took up issues pertaining to women and child welfare. The Pawar gameplan to help Sule create a niche for herself in state politics paid rich dividends.
Pawar's nephew, Maharashtra deputy CM Ajit Pawar, they say is the angry young man of Maharashtra politics. Government babus are petrified of him. "If you haven't done your homework, he may show you the door. He arrives in the office sharp at 9. 30 am, "says a bureaucrat.
Ajit cut his political teeth at Pawar's residence when the latter was CM in the late 1980s. However, Ajit, now well-entrenched in state politics, knows well that his uncle's example is pretty difficult to emulate, given the fractious nature of the Congress-NCP partnership in the state. Ajit's aggressive style is in sharp contrast with Pawar senior's insistence on consensus. He has been assiduously following his own agenda: cutting the Congress to size and expanding the NCP's vote-bank. Observers say Ajit will confine himself to Maharashtra while Sule will get to occupy the national stage.

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