Old habits die hard in Indian politics. Thus, there is no dimming the political ambitions of Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Narain Dutt Tiwari, despite their ripe age. Shekhawat has virtually thrown his hat in the prime ministerial ring, while the veteran Congressman is pressing the party president for a ticket in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. The wise old men are seeking a second innings in politics purely on personal grounds though. Shekhawat wants to ensure that his son-in-law and chosen political heir, Narpat Singh Rajvi, is accorded the leading role in the theatre of Rajasthan politics in place of the former CM, Vasundhara Raje, who, despite losing the polls, has been elected party leader in the legislature. On the other hand, Tiwari is reportedly keen to take the plunge from his old Nainital parliamentary seat to bestow his political legacy on his chosen heir. All that we can say is that politics, in this part of the world, isn’t about the nation; it is all about the family.
Veni, vidi, but not quite vici would be the perfect way to describe Narendra Modi’s press meet with the scribes in Ahmedabad recently. While talking about his Vibrant Gujarat Summit, the Gujarat chief minister was heard remarking that the Italian model had worked rather well to protect the small and medium scale industries in the state. Praise for Italy from a man who is never shy of taking pot-shots at the ‘videshi’ roots of the Congress president led a quick witted journo to inquire whether Sonia Gandhi would now be acceptable to him. The result? A stony silence from Modi and a hasty conclusion to the press meet. For once, even Modi, who has the gift of the gab, found himself at a loss for words.
The buzz in Chennai is that Sasikala, J. Jayalalithaa’s close companion, fainted while on a visit to the Parthasarathi temple. The wife of Union minister and DMK leader, TR Baalu, who was also on the premises on account of of vaikunta ekadasi, came to the rescue of Sasikala who hugged and thanked her once she regained consciousness. Devotees fast and flock to temples on vaikunta ekadasi, the day on which heaven’s gates are supposed to open, and some are saying that the fasting Sasikala found the going tough and fainted. When the incident was narrated to M. Karunanidhi, he wasn’t too pleased however. Now do we hear a door closing for poor Baalu?
Gains and losses
Frowns have replaced smiles on the faces of Congressmen in Rajasthan. The party has won the mandate to form the next government but lost an entire rung of important leaders in the recent polls, including CP Joshi, the PCC chief, who was seen as a contender for the CM’s slot. The list of losers included Joshi’s predecessor, BD Kalla, former minister, Narayan Singh, Youth Congress president, Neeraj Dangi, Mahila Congress president, Mamata Sharma and AICC secretary, Harinder Mirdha, among others. It is also being whispered that Joshi, who had promised that he would ‘micro-manage’ the polls, sabotaged the prospects of a better showing by cutting down on general category tickets (except his own) in favour of OBC candidates, forcing Brahmin and bania lobbies to vote for rival BJP. The CM, Ashok Gehlot, has his work cut out. With the general elections only a few months away, he has to ensure that his party puts up a better show. As for his partymen, these days, they are apparently describing the assembly election results as a pyrrhic victory.
For the people
P Chidambaram is busy taking steps so that the aam aadmi feels at home. He has asked the Delhi police not to make elaborate bandobasts so that the people are not inconvenienced when he travels. He also instructed the cops to do away with the practice of granting VVIPs like him special passage to avoid traffic congestion. PC wouldn’t even mind waiting for the lights to change. How one wishes that the rest of the VVIPs took a cue from the modest home minister.
Shelter from the storm
Behenji has gone house-hunting, again. A few years back, she had bought a palatial house in a prime Delhi location. A sprawling bungalow in Lucknow was next, and this time, she is said to have bagged another that belonged to a RAW official. Mayavati has a litany of cases lined up against her. This has made her detractors speculate that her latest purchase is yet another type of successful ‘engineering’.
Footnote -Time to brush up on the rules
Ashok Chavan’s coronation as the Maharashtra CM has brought the spotlight on...Chandraswamy! The controversial, self-styled godman of yesteryear, who was also the guru of the Maharashtra CM’s father, has reportedly paid a visit at his official residence, raising eye brows in the Congress circles. Chandraswamy, who was once close to PV Narasimha Rao and Chandra Sekhar, is seen in the company of Narendra Modi and Shivraj Singh Chauhan these days. His followers claim that it was the godman who helped Chavan win the crown. However, even Chandraswamy has not quite managed to acquaint Chavan with the chief ministerial dos and don’ts. Chavan went to meet Manmohan Singh the other day, but had to wait because the PM was busy. Soon, he became restless, pulled out his visiting card and demanded it to be passed to Singh. He was politely reminded that as a VVIP, he did not need to send his card to the PM who knew that he had called.