An interesting bit of news has escaped making big-bang headlines in India. But the developments give a bird’s eye view into what it feels like to be a part of the Indian National Congress, and how it is living under the party’s rule. Feuds between Congress and BJP ruled states are common. Feuds between states ruled by the BJP and those which are governed by a coalition government, of which the Congress is a part, are also common. Do you know what is also common? Congress leaders bickering among themselves.
Captain Amarinder Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu; Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot; Bhupesh Baghel and TS Singh Deo – the list goes on and on.
But a rather unique feud has broken out. This time, between two Congress-ruled states. These are the states of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. And it is getting ugly – even as the Congress high command fails to ensure a speedy resolution of the conflict between the two state governments.
Coal Comes Between Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh
India, according to Rahul Gandhi, is a ‘Union of States’ and not a nation. Well, be that as it may – the man’s family has done an unimpressive job in trying to resolve the crisis that has erupted between the two Congress-ruled states.
The tussle is rooted in coal. Last month, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had tapped Congress President Sonia Gandhi for the second time in three months to get Chhattisgarh to speed up clearances for mining coal for power plants.
Power generation units in Rajasthan have an allocation of coal from mines in Chhattisgarh but delays in state-level clearances have stalled most of them. In his recent letter to Sonia Gandhi, Ashok Gehlot said, “May I request you to kindly intervene and advise the Chief Minister, Chhattisgarh to ensure arranging all the requisite pending approvals” for the coal blocks to enable Rajasthan “to start mining activities at the earliest to avoid a power crisis in the state in future.”
Rahul Gandhi recently met with the chief ministers from these two states. However, the issue has still not been resolved. Rajasthan is seeking allocation of Parsa coal block in Chhattisgarh for the supply of coal, to which Chhattisgarh has raised certain concerns of tribals in the area.
Prolonging this tussle will have adverse effects on Rajasthan’s power sector, which will be forced to source electricity from third parties at a much higher rate. This will raise costs of electricity, antagonising people against the Congress ahead of a crucial assembly election next year.
Congress High Command Maintains its Streak
The Gandhis have an unprecedented track record of messing things up. As mentioned earlier, they were not able to resolve the tussles between Captain Amarinder Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu. In fact, the Gandhis exacerbated the infighting in Punjab Congress by first removing Captain from the CM post, replacing him with Charanjit Singh Channi, and then, failing to resolve the resultant tussle between Channi and Sidhu.
In Meghalaya, the Congress party has lost its five MLAs, who without the knowledge of the high command, have announced support for the ruling MDA government – of which the BJP is a part as well.
The feud between Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot has merely been put on the backburner. The tussle is very much prevalent, it is just not visible to the public. With elections in Rajasthan near, that volcano could soon erupt as well.
The story in Chhattisgarh, between Bhupesh Baghel and TS Singh Deo, is the same. Intense factionalism in the Congress state unit has divided the party into two camps – one of Baghel and the other of Deo. The Gandhis, meanwhile, continue to sleep at the wheel.
There is only one conclusion to be drawn – the Gandhis are not in a good shape themselves. They have no clue how state units are to be run. Their leadership is being questioned with each passing day, given how Congress-ruled states have begun fighting among themselves.