October 11, 2012




After over 48 hours of panic over the allegations levelled by ShriArvindKejriwal of India Against Corruption (IAC) against Shri Robert Vadra, the husband of Ms.Priyanka Gandhi and the son-in-law of Mrs.SoniaGandi, the President of the Congress, the Congress has cooled down and worked out a strategy of tiring out   the IAC in general and ShriKejriwal in particular.

2. It is reported that the initial panic was triggered by Mrs.Sonia Gandhi herself which led to the unwise intervention of a number of senior Ministers in support of ShriVadra and the tactless remarks of ShriVadra in his FB.

3. After this initial spectacle of chicken-like panic, Ms.Priyanka Gandhi, who is concerned over the likely impact of the allegations and the subsequent crisis management on the credibility and political future of the family and the Congress, reportedly stepped in to calm down the panic.

4.A new set of crisis management advisers not haunted by memories of the old Bofors controversy against Rajiv Gandhi,took advantage of certain evolving characteristics of L'AffaireVadra. Firstly, there has been no smoking gun so far. Secondly, there has been no paper trail. Thirdly, ShriVadra's alleged involvement was with a listed company and not with shady individual businessmen, either in India or in the diaspora abroad. Fourthly, ShriArvindKejriwal, during his first two Press conferences, seem to have fired all his bullets without seriously hurting ShriVadra. He does not appear to have any more unused bullets at his disposal. And, fifthly, by announcing beforehand that he would be exposing another prominent personality on October 16,ShriKejriwal has set a trap for himself. Whether he targets another prominent personality or tries to re-use the same bullets against ShriVadra, he will dilute the public focus on the Sonia Gandhi family.

5. Congress circles feel that the allegations made by ShriKejriwal are nothing but re-cycled versions of allegations made by a national business daily earlier this year. Those allegations were not taken note of by the conventional media---print or TV----, but were noted and exploited on the Net by a group of NRIs, which has been carrying on a campaign against Mrs.Sonia Gandhi and her family and in favour of the Hindutva organisations.This NRI group kept the allegations re-cycled through various means and these have now been picked up by ShriKejriwal and his IAC. It is claimed that in addition to these re-cycled allegations from the Net, there have been no new allegations in the charges levelled by ShriKejriwal.

6. These Congress circles draw attention to the intriguing coincidence between the campaign against Mrs. Sonia Gandhi unleashed by ShriNarendraModi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, on the issue of her foreign travel expenditure and the campaign against ShriVadra over his wealth unleashed by the IAC group. They suspect that the same group of pro-HindutvaNRIs is the inspiring force behind both the campaigns.

7. The initial panic was also caused by the dramatic projection to the viewers by the TV channels  of the charges made by ShriKejriwal against ShriVadra. This panic  has also since subsided. They point out how the TV pendulum dramatically swung towards Anna Hazare during his fast in August last year and then equally dramatically swung away from him when there were signs of agitation fatigue in Mumbai where Anna went for the second stage of his campaign. They are hoping that the TV pendulum, which has swung towards ShriKejriwal, would similarly swing away from him if he keeps re-cycling old allegations.

8. The new strategy of the Congress is to give a long rope to ShriKejriwal and not to do anything in panic. Unless ShriKejriwal is able to come out with a smoking gun or new evidence, this strategy might work.(12-10-12)

(The  writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com  Twitter @SORBONNE75)

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