Now that the palpitations over Ayodhya are on the wane, the Commonwealth Games fever has taken over the capital. One doesn’t quite know if it is the Ayodhya verdict that gave the saffronwallahs their voices back, but they suddenly seem to be sounding louder than usual. Take Rajnath Singh. The former Bharatiya Janata Party chief is supposed to have written a letter to the prime minister with a plea. Singh wants Vedic chants to embellish the grand opening of the Games. A panorama, which would have featured Eid celebrations and a qawwali soundtrack, must also be dropped pronto. Singh feels that the government has gone overboard with what he believes is a “political angle”. Moreover, he is of the opinion that anything related to Eid would be absurd since the festive occasion does not coincide with the Games. But the punchline is equally telling. Singh thinks that if any religious festival is to be featured, it should be Navratri as it will be celebrated in time with the Games’ dates. We’ll know soon if he has got himself heard.
Feroze Varun Gandhi is pleased as punch: his phone hasn’t stopped buzzing since Maneka Gandhi went public with the name of his bride-to-be. The callers included Ghulam Nabi Azad and Kamal Nath, both of whom were close to Varun’s father. But not all chachas and chachis bothered to call. The callers’ list does not include Ambika Soni, Jagdish Tytler and Amitabh Bachchan. Varun himself has been excluded from another list — that of the BJP’s campaigners in Bihar. The party seems to be extra-considerate of his wedding plans.
Break the ice
Has Prakash Karat undergone a change of heart? The relationship between the gen-sec of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Manmohan Singh has been rather frosty since the nuclear deal episode. But over the past two weeks or so, there seems to be a distinct thaw. Karat has met the PM on Kashmir twice already. This is certainly a departure from those days when Sitaram Yechury was instructed to fill in for him.
Divide and rue
The Ayodhya verdict seems to have split the Congress vertically. The status-quoists, led by the PM and Ahmad Patel, want the law to take its course till the Supreme Court takes the final call. The Gandhis, both Sonia and Rahul, are tight-lipped but are patiently listening to everyone who has something to say. Digvijay Singh, who has earned the tag, albela, ever since he described a senior minister as “Quick Gun Murugun” in private, wants the government to push for an out-of-court settlement. But his colleagues in the AICC secretariat — such as Janardhan Dwivedi and Motilal Vora — are equally keen that the party should not be seen to be delaying the construction of the Ram temple. Some Muslim MPs too want the controversy settled out of court, but they don’t believe that the Manmohan Singh government would take the plunge.
So far, the bigger nations in the Commonwealth Games have been screaming themselves hoarse. But the smaller countries have their share of worries too. Representatives from several African nations, such as Tanzania, Kenya and a few others, are believed to have made a quick dash to the Games Village to inspect the rooms. The apparent reason was to inspect the accommodation, but the real mission is suspected to have been something else — to make sure that there had been no discrimination in the final allotment of rooms. Officials from these countries were worried that the organizers may have allotted the best accommodation to the ‘biggies’ — teams that have been throwing tantrums — and ignored those who had remained silent. Silence isn’t quite golden then, at times.
After the Ayodhya verdict, an upbeat BJP is not the only worry for Bihar’s chief minister, Nitish Kumar. A recent survey shows that his slogan of a crime-free government has alienated the Thakur-Bhumihar-Brahmin-Kayastha combine. Most of those who are leaving Kumar’s party are either Thakur, Rajput or Kayastha. Meanwhile, Lalu Prasad, who recently visited a Thakur criminal in jail, has been gaining political ground. Kumar now plans to conduct another survey to be doubly sure. But what if it confirms the findings of the first?
Pet cause for some
A person basking in the glory of the Ayodhya verdict is Uma Bharti. She described the court ruling as the happiest moment of her life, perhaps because it swiftly shored up her prospects of returning to the BJP. Bharti was so enthused by the ruling that she had to be shifted from television studios to a hospital in Bhopal. News of her illness spread fast, and shortly after, LK Advani wanted to fly to Bhopal to see her. However, he was politely dissuaded and the Madhya Pradesh CM, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, known to have opposed Bharti’s return, called on her instead. Dozens of state ministers and BJP functionaries followed suit and suddenly hamari Didi has become a buzz word in the party. Uma’s pets — Kajri, a bearded Lhasa Apso, Golu and Kalu, the ferocious-looking Alsatian and Labrador, respectively — are also said to be barking in anticipation.