JDU loyalist Anil Hegde all set to get Rajya Sabha berth
DELHI DIARIES | Arvind Kejriwal’s fondness for rich corporate entities, BJP top brass instruction to workers & more
Published 22.05.22, 03:25 AM|
Hard work pays
- The Janata Dal (United), led by the chief minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, is sending its national electoral officer, Anil Hegde, to the Rajya Sabha on the seat that fell vacant owing to the demise of Mahendra Prasad, the owner of Aristo and Mapra pharmaceutical companies. His election is a foregone conclusion and the tenure of his seat will be around two years. Everybody in the party, right from its spokespersons to Kumar, went gaga over Hegde’s candidature. They praised themselves and the party for having rewarded the man who was an associate of the stalwart socialist leader and former Union minister, George Fernandes. Hegde has toiled loyally and selflessly for around four decades; the Karnataka native has even been staying in a small room at the state party headquarters in Patna for years. However, the praise became too much for a senior politician who vented his anger: “Actually the top JD(U) leaders should be ashamed that dozens of less deserving people were sent to the Rajya Sabha but a sincere party worker had to wait for such a long time. Even more shameful is that he is being sent to the Upper House for just two years, not even a full term of six years,” he said.
- The CM of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, has taken and stuck to an unmistakable position against corporate entities and their political interventions. Many still remember his 2016 statement that the Congress was in Ambani’s pocket and that the prime minister, Narendra Modi, is in the pocket of Adani. But when it came to finding an ally down south in Kerala, Kejriwal had no qualms in joining hands with Twenty20, a ‘corporate’ political party funded by Kitex Garments, the second-largest kids’ garments makers in the world. Their People’s Welfare Alliance has set its aim sky-high. It remains to be seen how the Aam Aadmi Party and Kejriwal would manoeuvre the maze of allegations, ranging from pumping effluents into a river to over 70 violations detected by the labour department against Kitex. The woes of the Delhi CM do not end there. The Centre has appointed the Puducherry chief secretary, Ashwani Kumar, as the special officer of the re-unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi, which will be controlled by the Centre. The corporation was trifurcated in 2012, and the term of the incumbent councils ended this week. Until polls are held, Kumar will hold sway on civic services for more than one crore citizens, as well as take a call on the ongoing demolition drives that have led to militant protests across the city. He is effectively the second power centre in the capital’s administration after the CM — with whom he has had several conflicts already. Kejriwal had accused Kumar of dereliction of duty for allegedly going slow on desilting of drains to widen the Yamuna. The bureaucrat found a way out through the Delhi High Court. After a brief lull in the Delhi versus Centre battle, hostilities are expected to resume soon.
- With the elections to the Rajya Sabha imminent, two forms were doing the rounds among the Bharatiya Janata Party members of the legislative assembly in Bihar along with instructions to sign as a ‘proposer’ for the candidates that the party will field. The legislators meekly obeyed the command even though the names of the candidates were missing. Each candidate of the BJP in the state needs 10 proposers as per the rules of elections to the upper House. Before the process began, the BJP had held a state-level meeting to discuss suitable candidates for the Rajya Sabha. But it was a futile exercise, as one senior leader pointed out publicly, because the state unit has no power. Everybody concurred that the two top BJP leaders at the Centre would decide the candidates. No rewards for guessing who the powerful leaders are.
- Hotly-contested polls to the Press Club of India took place recently. It saw the usual barbs against the main Opposition panels of being backed by the BJP to take over the club from the incumbent liberal establishment. While the Opposition panel, led by The Asian Age and the Deccan Chronicle bureau chiefs, denied any political backing, Harish Khurana, the Delhi BJP spokesman and son of the former CM, ML Khurana, created a furore with a tweet. There are few places where the BJP is apparently as unpopular as it is in the club.
- A long-awaited cabinet reshuffle has been haunting the Karnataka CM, Basavaraj Bommai. With more than a dozen aspirants elbowing each other to find a place in the list of new ministers, Bommai has little choice other than depending on the party’s national leadership. His frequent trips to Delhi to get the party’s nod is indicative of the pressure his colleagues have been mounting back in Karnataka. Even a visit by the home minister, Amit Shah, did not help calm restive berth-seekers who could mean trouble if ignored.
- The Arunachal Pradesh CM, Pema Khandu, knows how to spring a surprise. He proposed to the alumni of the Ramakrishna Mission School in Tirap district to pay the institution back for its service by constructing a state-of-the art convention hall as the present one is too small. Khandu, who became India’s youngest CM in 2016, not only stumped his audience but also connected with them with his candour. His growing experience of leading a politically complex state since 2016 is showing.