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Congress gambles by bringing Tytler back to limelight

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By Sidharth Mishra

As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) dominate political diatribe in the run-up to the polls of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), Congress suddenly entered the news columns for different reasons. Nomination of former Union Minister Jagdish Tytler on the party’s poll committee has got the Congress the much missed headlines.

Tytler’s nomination matters, and no wonder the party is ready to take the risk. With its vote share down to less than five percent in the last assembly polls, it doesn’t lose anything more in the name of four-time Lok Sabha member. On the other hand bringing the veteran out from forced hibernation may (or may not) help revive the dormant party organisation.

Product of the Youth Congress of Sanjay Gandhi’s generation, Tytler rubbed shoulders and remained friends with Congress stalwarts like Kamal Nath and made a steady progress on the political ladder. He had a reasonably successful tenure as Minister in PV Narasimha Rao Cabinet between 1991and 1996.

In Delhi’s politics he was seen as rival to Congress’ long time strongman Har Kishan Lal Bhagat, who enjoyed the epithet of ‘uncrowned king of Delhi’. Tytler on the other hand formed the opposite axis within Congress through 1980s and 1990s, holding his own.

Bhagat’s influence declined after loss in 1991 Lok Sabha polls. This was the time Tytler consolidated his position as union minister. However, Tytler’s progression towards the throne of Delhi Congress was thwarted by rise of Sheila Dikshit, whose charismatic personality eclipsed all her rivals. Though starting off as her supporter, Tytler went onto become Dikshit’s biggest baiter.

While the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases continued to haunt Tytler’s politics, things were made difficult for him with the rise of Captain Amrinder Singh as a powerful Congress leader in Punjab. Captain ensured complete political isolation for Tytler as he managed to convince the party high command that this was pre-requisite for rebuilding party in Punjab.

Tytler in 2005 was dropped from Manmohan Singh’s cabinet after the report of Nanavati Commission, probing the anti-Sikh riots cases, was published. The report noted that Tytler “very probably” had a hand in organising attacks on the Sikh community.

 Amrinder went to win Punjab in 2007, the fallout was that Tytler was denied even party ticket in 2009. The ticket was rather withdrawn after a Sikh journalist threw shoe at then Home Minister P Chidambaram at a Press briefing protesting the clean chit given by Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) to Tytler in the riot cases.

Though Tytler is still to be formally charged in any of the cases lodged against him, his political isolation continued even after the end of Sheila Dikshit’s innings in Delhi politics. With Amrinder Singh once again winning Punjab for the Congress in 2017, it ensured that Tytler continued to remain in cold.

Now that Amrinder Singh is out of the government and also out of the party, and with nothing more for Congress to lose in either Punjab or Delhi, the move to rehabilitate the veteran. But within the Congress the move could cause turmoil especially how the two former Presidents of Delhi Congress – Ajay Maken and JP Agarwal look at it.

Moreover unlike liquor, which matures with time, human beings age. Over 75 years old now, Tytler would find it difficult to plunge himself in the rough and tumble of politics with the same vigour as he would have in 2009, when he was sent to ‘solitary confinement’ at the peak of his career. May be he can play a mentor to the current Delhi Congress president Anil Chowdhary, who too has his career at stake. 

(The writer is an author and president, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice)



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