There must be some truth in the adage, never change a winning team. At least, the leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, Arvind Kejriwal, seems to think so. Kejriwal has chosen to go his third term in office with the same set of ministers. The AAP has won 62 out of 70 seats, and the winners include party bigwigs like Atishi Marlena, Raghav Chadha and Dilip Pandey. All the incumbent ministers were re-elected, thus leaving little wiggle room for Kejriwal
to bring in new faces without antagonizing the old ones. According to sources within the AAP, Kejriwal plans to take a back seat from day-to-day governance before the year turns, focusing instead on expanding the party outside Delhi. His deputy, Manish Sisodia, who is expected to call the shots in Kejriwal’s absence, would clearly prefer loyalists and troubleshooters like Atishi and Chadha on his team. Amidst hectic lobbying by members of the legislative assembly who have won with record margins as well as those who wield influence in the AAP’s target-states like Uttar Pradesh, the party decided to stick to the old team.
But some things are surely going to change this year. Unlike other years, the chief ministers of other states have not been invited for Kejriwal’s swearing in today. This may be the first step towards projecting the party’s distinct identity, and showing that it is not merely a part of the combined Opposition.
Prakash Javdekar File picture
The boss is always right. Amit Shah was the mascot of the Delhi polls. But who can dare blame him for the humiliating drubbing that the Bharatiya Janata Party received at the hustings? A hunt is thus on to find scapegoats and if the whispers in the corridors of power are to be believed, the BJP has already identified not one but two of them. Manoj Tiwari, the Bhojpuri singer and actor-turned-politician, who was picked by Shah to head the Delhi BJP, unsurprisingly, is the first. The second fall guy designate is the election in-charge and information and broadcasting minister, Prakash Javadekar.
Party leaders have been heard slamming Javadekar for lacking the stature and the skills to lead the organization. “He [Tiwari] filled key party posts with non-serious people like him. Committed old-timers felt humiliated and refused to work under him,” one party leader said. This leader, however, did not dare to blame Shah who had actually preferred Tiwari. Javadekar is being seen as a bad omen. The BJP has lost all the polls he has presided over as election in-charge. In 2018, Javadekar was in-charge of the Karnataka assembly polls and the BJP lost, in spite of coming very close to tasting power. The Yediyurappa government collapsed on the floor of the assembly. He was again tasked to preside over the Rajasthan state polls in December 2018 and, once again, the BJP lost in spite of putting up a good fight. Yet, it was the party leadership — Shah included — that tasked Javadekar with leading the Delhi polls, overlooking this track record. But the boss, they say, is never wrong.
One of the most disconcerting mysteries of Bihar politics is the role of Kanhaiya Kumar in the upcoming assembly election. His rallies have attracted huge response across the state and his party, the Communist Party of India, is already nursing big dreams for the future. But other Opposition parties are still sceptical. While the Rashtriya Janata Dal had not vacated the Begusarai seat for Kanhaiya and is, in fact, quite hostile to him, the Congress leadership is extremely fond of this bitter critic of the prime minister. But both the parties smell a conspiracy by the Bihar CM, Nitish Kumar, who has been promoting Kanhaiya.
While the administration was not keen on allowing Kanhaiya’s Bihar tour, Nitish Kumar personally intervened to clear the plan. Leaders from RJD immediately got suspicious and are still expecting dramatic political realignments before the election. The Congress, on the other hand, is hoping the CPI gifts Kanhaiya to the anti-BJP camp. Key observers are also not ruling out another u-turn by Nitish Kumar by dumping the BJP. Kanhaiya, though, only cares about defeating the BJP. But the next two months may spring unexpected surprises in Bihar.
The sudden hike in LPG prices has raised the heat in Kerala where the troll army is dragging the state BJP overhot coals. The trolls dugout an old video showing the BJP rabble-rouser, Shobha Surendran, standing in a kitchen lamenting about the “unfair” hike in cooking gas prices. Not one to leave an opportunity, she took to task the Centre over the kind of difficulty it had put poor people who depend on affordable cooking fuel through. There is a slight catch though. The video had been filmed after the United Progressive Alliance regime had hiked gas prices. Shobha and her party cannot help but curse their luck that the video clip went viral on social media at the wrong time and for all the wrong reasons.
Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah File picture
PC Siddaramaiah has always commanded great respect among both his followers and his adversaries. Almost two years after demitting the chief minister’s office, Siddaramaiah is still the real leader for his diehard admirers, many of whom visit him at home with garlands and bouquets. One such fan visited him recently with a garland and even a Mysore peta (traditional headgear). When a rather surprised Siddaramaiah asked about the peta, his admirer revealed that he had a dream where he saw Siddaramaiah back in the chief minister’s saddle. Siddaramaiah jokingly quipped, “Oh! Then I will never become chief minister again.”