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Why Raila, Ruto hardliners have rolled back their fiery tongues

By Grace Ng'ang'a | October 26th 2021

DP William Ruto (left), ODM leader Raila Odinga, Senators Irungu Kang'ata (Murang'a) and Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet), MPs; Alice Wahome (Kandara), John Mbadi (Suba South), and Millie Odhiambo (Suba North). [File, Standard]

They bark the loudest in defence of their political masters. Adept at smear tactics, they make pet subjects out of the competition.

Their commitment is not questionable, with their support stretching the limits of sycophancy.

The hardliners, feature in every campaign season, blatantly letting out what their masters may be too shy to say. While they may work to solidify an aspirant’s base, they often rub many the wrong way.

In the current season of campaign, the hardliners have seemingly taken a backseat, perhaps aware of the danger they pose to top politicos seeking to woo new allies or have deliberately been pushed back by the internal party systems to open space for sober conversation ahead of 2022.

With the elections just shy of ten months, twists and turns are being witnessed politically with what seems like the game of survival.

However, as the current political season gathers storm, some hardliners have been unusually quiet.

Notable missing faces in the ensuing political scheme of things include Deputy President William Ruto’s lieutenants - Senators Susan Kihika (Nakuru), Samson Cherargei (Nandi), Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet), Irungu Kang’ata (Murang’a), Kindiki Kithure (Tharaka Nithi), MPs Oscar Sudi (Kapsabet), Caleb Kositany (Soi) and Alice Wahome (Kandara).

ODM leader Raila Odinga’s allies ODM chairman John Mbadi and Millie Odhiambo (Suba North) have also toned down on attacks against opponents.

ODM Raila Odinga. [File, Standard]

With the succession race gaining momentum, leaders are now engaging in the game of political survival.

From crafting coalitions to sustaining presidential campaigns, political operatives are taking centre stage to promote the interests of their preferred candidate.

Handlers of the top politicians across the political divide have been put behind the curtains by their masters raising speculation over their whereabouts.

Political analyst Javas Bigambo argued that the move was necessitated by various political advisers of some top leaders for the sake of preserving their image ahead of 2022 polls.

“Image is important at this stage as we gear up for the next polls. So for now they are being prevented from uttering words that would affect their leader at this crucial time where people are trying to garner as many votes, by all means, necessary,” he said.

Bigambo explained that leaders are using this strategy to “hide their shame” and everything at the moment is being done for political appeal ahead of 2022.

He said everything is for optics since ordinarily, they wouldn’t do what they are doing but they have to endure since this is the season to entertain anything for the sake of securing votes.

“Why are they so focused on showing us now that their team is a match of all Kenyans yet we have never seen that before?” He posed.

“I’m sure after going home and behind closed doors, they laugh at what they were publicly doing unbelievably asking how they managed to do any of that,” he added.

DP William Ruto. [File, Standard]

But Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata defended the absence of some leaders from the political scene arguing that they are also focusing on their 2022 ambitions.

“Known faces have gone back to their bases to concentrate on their races. Major faces are engaged in races that require major input like the gubernatorial seat,” he said.

Echoing his sentiments, Mr Mbadi said following Raila throughout his campaigns will add no value to him come 2022.

“We need to be more focused on our region. We also need to consolidate our base. I’m of more value trying to help in our region as opposed to moving with him across the country,” he said.

Mbadi disclosed that Raila has received overwhelming support across the country and now has many new friends who did not support him in the past and needs an opportunity to tell Kenyans why the change of heart.

“It’s positive that Raila has new friends across the country and it only makes sense to allow these people to move around the country with him and have enough time to address gatherings unlike when we are all there,” he said.

“They should have enough time to speak to the crowd and address why they think Raila is best fit to be the president something that they had not spoken about for many years. That will be adding more value to our campaign than when we all troop to his campaigns and repeat same old stories,” added the ODM chairman.

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