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Strange Development


It is being widely reported that one Manish Khanduri will be joining the Congress on the occasion of Party President Rahul Gandhi’s election rally to be held in Doon on 16 March. Why is this considered significant and who is this person? He happens to be the son of sitting BJP MP from Pauri, Maj General BC Khanduri (Retd). Bringing him into the Congress fold and giving him the party ticket to contest from Pauri is being projected as a major coup.
Why is it being thought so? Manish has a zero record in any kind of politics. Before this day, most voters didn’t even know he existed. So, how did he manage to qualify so suddenly for a Congress Lok Sabha ticket? Is the party so bereft of talent that it is willing to nominate a person whose only qualification for the job is being Gen Khanduri’s son? Has the present MP from Pauri built up during his years as a Chief Minister and MP a personal political base that he can bequeath to his offspring? Has he not obtained for his years of service to the BJP a seat in the Vidhan Sabha for his daughter, Ritu? Is it his way of getting back at his party for considering him too aged and physically unfit for re-nomination? Or, has Manish struck out on his own to take advantage of his connection with General Khanduri? None of this has been confirmed as yet, though it may well be true. The BJP has expressed unconcern by pointing out that Manish is not a member of the party and his doings are not its problem.
Those who believe dynastic politics holds sway in Indian politics are projecting this as a major blow delivered by the Congress. General Khanduri’s political legacy is by no means independent of the BJP. He may have come to represent the Brahmin face of the party in the hills, but that certainly does not grant him ownership of their votes. As an ex-serviceman, he will certainly not get support for any turncoat behaviour from a community that believes in loyalty.
There is very little damage that can be expected to the BJP support base. If the reported event does take place, it will cast the Congress in very bad light while, at the same time, cause dissension in the ranks. Once again, the dynastic nature of the party will have been revealed, at the cost of the thousands of members who may have hoped to make it to the highest ranks on the basis of their hard work. Their angst will surely be reflected in the poll results.