BJP senses trouble in Himachal. Enter Anurag Thakur?
The hill states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh have kept the Bharatiya Janata Party restless. After the change of two chief ministers in a short span in Uttarakhand, concerns have now surfaced over Himachal Pradesh. The party recently lost one Lok Sabha and three assembly seats to the Congress in the by-elections. Both states are scheduled for polls in 2022 and the bypoll results have alarmed the BJP leadership. Uttarakhand and Himachal are ruled by the party and losing either would send out the wrong message. After the bypoll, whispers could be heard in the party corridors about changing the current CM of Himachal Pradesh, Jairam Thakur. Himachal also happens to be the home state of the BJP chief, JP Nadda, and many feel that he should also share some responsibility for the loss. Interestingly, the information and broadcasting minister, Anurag Thakur, seems to be suppressing his joy over the developments. He considers himself the natural claimant for the top post since his father, Prem Kumar Dhumal, served twice as CM of the state. Thakur now smells an opportunity amid the adversity.
Just a day after his party lost the bypolls for two assembly seats to the Janata Dal (United), the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief, Lalu Prasad, claimed that he was not feeling well and went back to Delhi with his wife, Rabri Devi, and daughter, Misa Bharti. It gave much fodder to the ruling alliance to attack him, especially since he had reportedly claimed that he would stay in Patna for a month, but returned in just 10 days. “He had come for the immersion of Nitish Kumar’s government, but got his own immersion done. He just fled the state understanding that his party is doomed here. He came flying like a shuttlecock, but we returned him with a smash,” a JD(U )leader said. RJD leaders also concurred with this in a way. “Had we won the two seats, Lalu ji would have felt better healthwise. He would have stayed put. Besides, there are no immediate elections happening here, so he has gone to Delhi to conserve his energy,” one of them said, hoping that the rustic, charismatic leader returns to Patna soon.
The Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya is the foremost place of pilgrimage for Buddhists because it was here that Siddhartha attained Enlightenment. Recently, a new trend has been noticed among the devotees from across the globe. They are offering to the Buddha various types of carbonated beverages, chocolates, toffees, biscuits, bottled water and other modern things that are part of people’s daily diet.
The monks were aghast at first, but yielded soon. They now offer the eatables to the Buddha and then return them to the devotees, who happily feast on them while meditating around the ‘Bodhi Tree’. “Buddhism is all about flexibility and the middle path without compromising on the values. Why make devotees who come here sad? Whatever they offer to the Buddha is out of love and devotion,” a senior monk said. Asked about what they do of the goods that devotees do not take back, he said, “You can make a guess. The offerings are good.”
The concerted attack of the Maharashtra cabinet minister, Nawab Malik, on the Narcotics Control Bureau officer, Sameer Wankhede, in the wake of Aryan Khan’s arrest triggered speculation in political circles whether this was a personal initiative. Malik had reasons to bear a grudge against Wankhede — his son-in-law was also arrested by the NCB.
Political observers were surprised by Malik’s sustained attack as he comes from the Nationalist Congress Party and the party chief, Sharad Pawar, is not known for such overt wars. But Malik held press conferences frequently, not only to attack Wankhede, accusing him of running an extortion racket, but also to extend his diatribe to the former CM from the BJP, Devendra Fadnavis. Sources reveal that Malik has the full backing of all three allies — Shiv Sena, Congress and the NCP. One minister said, “We realized that the BJP was desperately seeking to destabilize the coalition government by misusing Central agencies and bureaucracy. Former police chief Parambir Singh leveled such a serious charge of extortion against the home minister and now he is absconding and filed an affidavit saying he has no evidence. We decided that offence is the best defence and the entire government is backing Malik’s mission.” Malik has now promised another exposé on Sunday, teasing people with a cryptic tweet: “There are so many secrets of ‘The Lalit’ hotel... let’s meet on Sunday.”
The fighter in the former prime minister, HD Deve Gowda, doesn’t seem to have ebbed even at 88. The Janata Dal (Secular) supremo, who faced the ignominy of his candidates losing deposits in two assembly seats in the recent Karnataka bypolls, is warming up for the 2023 state polls. While his never-say-die attitude has been the hallmark of the ‘mannina maga’ (son of the soil), many of his adversaries had thought that he would quietly retire from mainstream politics. On the contrary, Deve Gowda — who had reportedly hired a personal yoga trainer ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls to prep him for the arduous campaign — is, once again, gearing up for the next battle.
The CM of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, has a knack for appealing to the youth. Vijayan has now become the darling of techies by considering opening pubs at tech parks. He told the assembly that pubs were needed for social infrastructure at these hi-tech facilities. A few years ago, the Left government approved the opening of supermarket-style outlets for alcohol, thus heeding the demand of consumers who had to queue up outside government-run stores in seedy corners of each town.