Archive | May, 2018

Kairana: Battle Royale

Posted on 27 May 2018 by admin

Having faced humiliation in Karnataka, the BJP is now being utterly careful in the coming major showdown in Uttar Pradesh’s Kairana. While the party mandarins have carefully stayed away from direct involvement, but it has issued strict orders to the lower echelons to spare nothing in the constituency. Three booths have been set up as a Sector, and the entire constituency has been divided into 145 Sectors, with as many heads. The high command has told this core group to stay put in Kairana till May 28, the poll date. Sunil Bansal is leading the charge, with about 20 MLAs and a dozen ministers at his command. CM Yogi Adityanath is in high demand here. A few days ago, Ramlal and Shiva Prakash too had surveyed Kairana and given their feedback to the bosses. But despite such meticulous preparations by BJP, the spirit of the united opposition seems to be still up in the air. One is reminded of poet Munawwar Rana: “It may be that God lives in a huge mansion in the heaven but on earth his home in the hearts of the poor!”

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Mamata’s Rahul Ire

Posted on 27 May 2018 by admin

Mamata Banerjee is mighty upset with Rahul Gandhi, so much so that she does not even speak to him these days. Just like Mamata, who makes an issue out of an ant. Last week, when she reached Bengaluru to attend the grand opposition show during the swearing-in ceremony of JDS leader Kumaraswami, she got trapped in a traffic jam and was forced to walk about 500 metres after getting down from her car to reach the dais. This is because the SPG had stopped traffic to ensure the safety of Z-category Congress leaders, Rahul and mother Sonia. This had so angered Mamata that during the entire meeting, she just even look at him. The issue reached a point that former Prime Minister Deve Gowda pleaded with Didi folded hands. She spoke loudly, obviously to get to Rahul’s ears, telling Deve Gowda: “The time has come for the Federal Front. Time is up for these big parties which cannot even save their governments in the states. But when CPI’s D Raja went to check out on Rahul on this fracas, he smiled and said: “You know I have no ambitions of becoming the PM, but if any opposition leader thinks she or he can become the PM without my support, they are in a fool’s paradise.

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Who’s Scared of Gandhis!

Posted on 27 May 2018 by admin

Once fears are shed, even the dumb start speaking. There was a time when the Gandhi family’s fist ruled the Congress. But the political drama in Karnataka has given lips to so long silent players. The Congress leader on the ground who saved the day for the party, DK Shivakumar is doing some plain talking with the high command. When at the end of the day Rahul thumped his back for keeping the flock together, Shivakumar asked for Rahul’s personal mobile number so that he could directly talk to the party prez. Rahul gave him one number and said: “Whenever you need to talk to me just give a missed call on this number and I shall call you back from another number because both our numbers are on surveillance. Shivakumar then suggested that to reward his efforts, he should be made the Deputy Chief Minister in Karnataka. Rahul asked him for a bit of time and then flew back to Delhi.

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Parmeshwar’s Victory

Posted on 27 May 2018 by admin

Rahul’s tete-a-tete with Shivakumar did not go amiss so far as Parmeshwar is concerned. He panicked and fell back on his long-time confidante; Roshan Baig. The latter suddenly summoned a press conference and declared that Muslims have been the strongest vote bank in getting the Congress to the position it is in Karnataka, so the deputy CM must a Muslim leader, and if not, the post ought to go only to a Dalit (read Parmeshwar). Immediately thereafter, Lingayat leader MY Patil held his own media meet and demanded that the position must go to some leader from among the Dalit groups which voted for the Congress, and he even named Davangere MLA Shivrappa as his choice. A troubled Rahul summoned his trusted lieutenant Venugopal and asked him to assure Shivakumar that instead of Parmeshwar, he would be made the state party boss and given an important portfolio in the Karnataka government. Apparently, Shivakumar has agreed for the moment, but BJP is on the kill to get him.

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Friends turn Foe

Posted on 27 May 2018 by admin

There seems to be an uneasy stress in the relationship between Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav. Even at the Karnataka celebrations, that huge rapport between the two young leaders seemed to have worn down somewhat. In fact, Tejaswi Yadav, Sitaram Yechury and Arvind Kejriwal were staying in the same hotel as Akhilesh and he personally met all of them and held long discussions. Sources say that at around this time, Rahul’s man Kaushal Vidyarthi called Akhilesh and said Rahul wants to meet him so could he go over to his hotel? Akhilesh shot back, miffed: “Bhaiya (Rahul) wants to meet me and then issues an order. After all, I am also the president of my party, so why can’t Bhaiya come over to my hotel?” Since then the silence between the two leaders has been long and deep!

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Modi’s Hunt, Rajini’s Waiver

Posted on 27 May 2018 by admin

It is clear by now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched BJP’s 2019 campaign already, and he knows full well the power of facing a united opposition, which is giving him and running mate Amit Shah sleepless nights. So while in foreign affairs, Modi says: “Look East”, in his domestic policy, it is “Look South”. Modi is now on the prowl for poaching down south and look for newer friends. Insiders in the party tell us that last fortnight, southern never-say-die hero Rajinikanth unexpectedly flew out to Delhi. From the airport, where the carriage was waiting, he was driven straight to 7 Race Course Road, where the PM was waiting to have lunch with him. Krishnamurthi, a legal expert and known to be close to the PM, is being said to be the architect of this lunch politics. In fact, he is known to be equally close to Rajini. Most of the meeting was a nice political rumination, but when Rajini told the PM that he needs some more time to make up his mind on whether to join the BJP or start a party of his own, Modi smiled. But at the completion of lunch, Rajini after all spoke his mind. Sources say that Rajini’s wife had earlier taken two large loans from Bank of Baroda and Oriental Bank of Commerce to run her realty business. Rajini wants these loans to be ‘settled’ and the interest accrued on them be waived off. He said: “In the past I had sent you this request three times, and you had assured me on this too. But till date, no one from your office has even spoken to us on this.” The PM realised how much politics is in Rajini’s DNA. The fact remains that BJP needs new friends in the south. The DMK has clearly said that joining the BJP would dissipate its core vote bank of Dalits, Muslims and Christians, so any arrangement with the saffron party could be considered only after the elections. The BJP had been contemplating aligning with the AIADMK, but it now seems to them that there could be more loss than gain. Which is why Amit Shah is in dialogue with new friends like YSR Congress’ Jaganmohan Reddy.

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Varun’s Poetic Silence

Posted on 27 May 2018 by admin

Varun Gandhi has no ‘second’ in giving lips to words that have been suppressed. It seems now that the saffron party’s recent attitude towards him made him decide not to pull punches any more in his public utterances. He seems to be ready to cross the Rubicon and is shaping up a different kind of politics. Last Friday he waded into strange waters. Varun was slated to address a meeting organised by the Swaniti Initiative at New Delhi’s Constitution Club. His topic was ‘The role of the legislature in social reforms’. As he alighted from his car and proceeded towards the auditorium, people found Samajwadi Party’s Rajya Sabha MP Neeraj Shekhar standing at the Coffee Counter in pristine white kurta pajamas, enjoying ice cream with his family. Some of the organisers apparently told Shekhar to stand aside and give way, and by then Varun too had reached the auditorium. Shekhar had felt hugely peeved, and the moment Varun started his speech, Shekhar started bawling from outside, saying “You don’t know who I am!” Varun, the least bothered and cool as a cucumber, went on with his speech, completely ignoring the MP. When Shekhar started crossing the limits of civilized behavior, two Sikh hulks from the audience came out, grabbed him and forced his exit. It is learnt that Shekhar not only complained to Rajiv Pratap Rudy, but sent a scorching WhatsApp message to Varun himself. Varun remained silent, making silence as the weapon he had articulated in his poem “Control”, from his anthology “Stillness”:
“I am not at war I tell myself
And I hold these captured silences
As trophies in my war of repose
My hands are too long for these shackles
But fit neatly into your sadness
I am not lost
Waiting to be tamed
I have become
the residue of the chase
How many lives
walk through us in pain
As we wrest control of this climb”

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Smriti’s Sad Memories

Posted on 21 May 2018 by admin

The sudden divesting of motor-mouth, high profile Smriti Irani from the very prominent Information and Broadcasting Ministry, and clothing her barely with just the textile ministry has seen mountains of eyebrows raised due to this tectonic shift. Is her downscaling the result of her peremptory disclosure of Modi’s media muscling plans over ‘fake news’, or of her long and bitter battle with Prasar Bharati CEO Surya Prakash? Shastri Bhavan corridors are rife with whispers that her latest gaffe had been over inviting President Kovind to the ceremony for the annual National Films Awards. It is said that Irani had used the formal channels, as she should have, to formally write to the President, but she had the temerity of not personally and informally handing over that invitation to Kovind, which has been the norm over decades, and the prez, upset mightily, had made his ire known to the Prime Minister’s Office. This is perhaps why the President’s office decided to limit his presence to just one hour at the awards ceremony, which poured much oil into an already raging fire in the intellectual and film community, embarrassing the government to mightily.

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Rawat’s Liquor Brothers

Posted on 21 May 2018 by admin

The darling of the Sangh, the hill state Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat makes all efforts to stay away from the headlines, but somehow or the other, a headwind hits him every now and then and he hogs the media gloss. Last year, when the Supreme Court had banned liquor shops from 500 metres of National Highways, Rawat had shifted them all to state highways. Now the situation is that liquor is being sold from even the smallest of grocery shops. The opposition has not just raised a din of Himalayan proportions, they have even alleged that some of the CM’s seven brothers are promoting this liquor mafia. The scale of the allegation is such that the party’s Delhi mandarins will not be able to easily brush off.

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Modi: US’ Pyongyang Mediator?

Posted on 21 May 2018 by admin

General (Retd) VK Singh, state minister for foreign affairs, is facing an opposition barrage over his recent and curious North Korea visit. Initially, the Central government had been highly secretive about the visit, but when a North Korean media agency released the pictures of the visit, the Centre hastily summoned up the excuse that Singh had been to Pyongyang for exchanging India’s Yoga expertise with North Korea’s traditional medicinal systems (why the health minister was not sent remains a key issue, though). But the Opposition has not bought into that frail argument. Instead, it alleges a misuse of India’s long-standing good relation with Pyongyang to smoothen down the feathers ruffled just before the summit between US president Donald Trump and North Korean maverick Kim Jong-un. Was Singh sent to pour oil on the troubled waters over the Modi government’s unseemly commitment to the recently romanced US? This seems BJP’s old habit that dies hard, for one will not forget that in 1998, under BJP’s Atal Behari Vajpayee regime, the then minister of state for Information & Broadcasting, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, had been sent to North Korea, an international pariah, to attend a film festival.

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