Rajasthan, Goa going through turmoil of varying degrees
If the political situation in Delhi is dismal for the Congress, thanks largely to the 2G controversy, the picture is not much rosier in the States that it is in power. Not only has the party's leadership yet to resolve the Telangana issue in Andhra Pradesh — even though senior party sources have hinted at an official announcement before Parliament starts on November 22 — its State governments in Rajasthan, Goa and Maharashtra are going through turmoil of varying degrees.
Indeed, the Congress had barely sorted out the revolt against its Chief Minister in Arunachal Pradesh in early November after several months of inaction by sacking Jarbom Gamlin and appointing Nabam Tuki in his place, when speculation about the future of the Chief Minister of Goa began, following the possibility of his involvement in illegal mining in the State. In Rajasthan, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's detractors in the party are growing daily as the Gopalgarh communal incident and the Bhanwari Devi case continue to simmer on. And on Friday, on the day Prithviraj Chavan completed a year in office as Chief Minister, farmers took to the streets across the sugar-rich western part of the State, demanding a higher price for sugarcane.
The Congress is facing the heat in Goa, which goes to the polls next year, with the Justice M.B. Shah Commission due shortly to submit its report on illegal mining to the Union Ministry of Mining: once its contents are made public, the Congress may have to act against Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, in case the reports indicts him, especially as the Bharatiya Janata Party's B.S. Yeddyurappa in neighbouring Karnataka was dropped on similar charges.
Congress secretary in charge of Goa Jagmeet Singh Brar, who was in Goa recently to meet the different political players in the State, told The Hindu, “There is no question of any compromise on the issue, but till such time as the report is not public, it would be premature to say anything.” Till then, the Congress is focussing on the celebrations next month of the liberation of Goa, which took place half a century ago, with portraits of liberation fighters likely to be installed in the Central Hall of Parliament on December 19.
Meanwhile, in Rajasthan, Mr. Gehlot has been making frequent trips to the national capital, but the fact that he met Congress president Sonia Gandhi twice recently, has ended conjecture that he may be replaced: now speculation revolves around the possibility of major changes in his Ministry.
On Friday, the Central Bureau of Investigation interrogated Mahipal Maderna's wife, Lila, who is an MLA in the State, in the case of the abduction of a 36-year-old auxiliary nurse, Bhanwari Devi. Mr. Maderna, a Minister in the Gehlot government, was sacked after it was alleged that he was involved in the Bhanwari Devi case. The questioning of Ms. Maderna comes a day after Mr. Maderna told the agency that he knew the nurse. As the murky details of the case are beginning to emerge through the investigations, the situation is becoming difficult for the Congress: Mr. Maderna may have been dropped from the Ministry, but he is yet to be expelled — he belongs to the powerful Jaat community, and is the son of strongman Parasram Maderna. His fate will be watched closely by the Jaats of Uttar Pradesh, which goes to the polls next year.
Clearly, the party leadership has its hands full.