15 May, 2021

The Lonely Fern

After a string of political crises, the old 'socialist' has to cohabit with saffron or stand in inglorious isolation

Jitender Gupta
The Lonely Fern
Is it the end of the road for George Fernandes, the once-upon-a-time socialist firebrand with the high moral ground? Marginalised within his Samata Party, hounded and abused by his former chelas, ostracised by the Opposition, facing a judicial commission for alleged monies given to party president Jaya Jaitly in his official residence, Fernandes seems at the end of his tether. Little more than a year before general elections, he stands in splendid isolation.

At the core of his current crisis is the Samata Party he helped launch in 1999. In a proxy battle between him and Union railway minister Nitish Kumar, Fernandes appears well and truly cornered.

In the past two months, most of his camp followers from Bihar—MPs Raghunath Jha and Brahmanand Mandal, and mlas Bhai Birendra, Ganesh Paswan and P.K. Sinha—have been removed from the party's primary membership. Ironically, this is attributed to Fernandes' attempts to mollify his detractors. The embarrassment came when Fernandes was in China recently and the deposed legislators issued a hard-hitting statement: "You...

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