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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 July 2024

Change in Nitish Kumar's behaviour worries Janata Dal (United) leaders

DELHI DIARIES | Rahul Gandhi's closeness to Lalu Prasad brings out the foodie in him, locals are daring Smriti Irani to take on Priyanka in Wayanad, and more

The Editorial Board Published 23.06.24, 11:15 AM
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar checks Prime Minister Narendra Modi's finger for indelible ink mark during inauguration of the new campus of Nalanda University, in Nalanda district, Bihar, Wednesday, June 19

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar checks Prime Minister Narendra Modi's finger for indelible ink mark during inauguration of the new campus of Nalanda University, in Nalanda district, Bihar, Wednesday, June 19 PTI

Playful streak

The chief minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, has taken to revealing his playful streak in public. At a recent event at Nalanda University, he was seated next to the prime minister, Narendra Modi; the CM suddenly caught the PM’s hand and started admiring the latter’s fingers and said something in a light vein with representatives from 17 countries watching. Nobody knows what Nitish told Modi, but the PM was not amused and kept quiet, perhaps because he cannot afford to express any annoyance at Nitish, one of the heavyweights supporting the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre. A few days ago, Nitish noticed a few ministers from the Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party sporting tilaks on their foreheads. He caught hold of their heads and rubbed their foreheads one against the other. The people present laughed at Nitish’s jolly mood, although none of them could fathom the reason behind his action. Nitish also playfully tried to touch the feet of Modi, who is a few months younger than him, on a couple of occasions. The change in Nitish’s behaviour has left party leaders worried because he used to be a serious person earlier, especially in public.

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Fishy affair

Rahul Gandhi’s recent closeness with the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief, Lalu Prasad, and his family seems to have brought out the foodie in him. He was celebrating his 54th birthday recently and Lalu’s younger son, Tejashwi Yadav, wished him on social media. Rahul’s thanks was accompanied by a query about what fish would be on the menu the next time they had lunch — catla or rohu. Tejashwi indicated that the party was on and added that catla fry and rohu jhol would be on the table.

Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi during the extended Congress Working Committee meeting, in New Delhi, Saturday, June 8

Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi during the extended Congress Working Committee meeting, in New Delhi, Saturday, June 8 PTI

Rahul has shown his fondness for non-vegetarian delicacies with Lalu and his family. At the fag end of the Lok Sabha poll campaign, the Congress leader was seen gorging on rotis, littis, rice, chicken and mutton with Tejashwi and Lalu’s eldest daughter, Misa Bharti, in Pataliputra. While eating these dishes, Rahul asserted that the PM, Narendra Modi, wants to control everything, including what people eat. Last year, Rahul had taken cooking lessons from Lalu in Delhi, while assisting him in preparing mutton dishes. He carried some for his sister, Priyanka Gandhi, as well. People in the know said that Lalu and his family have ensured that arrangements are in place in Delhi and Patna to quickly cook some non-vegetarian dishes if Rahul wants to drop in anytime.

Open challenge

Now on to the other Gandhi sibling. It is not without reason that some natives of Wayanad have dared the former Union minister, Smriti Irani, to contest against Priyanka Gandhi Vadra from the Kerala constituency which has always been a Congress stronghold. Even though it was a bittersweet moment to realise that Rahul would retain the Rae Bareli seat, the fact that Priyanka will take his place in Wayanad makes the Congress’s victory almost certain. Some say that Priyanka would score a higher margin than Rahul. Locals are now daring Irani to take on Priyanka in Wayanad. It seems that the people of Wayanad want to have some fun at the expense of Irani, who is among the loudest critics of the Gandhi siblings and recently lost the polls from Amethi.

Denial mode

The BJP led by Narendra Modi has been trying its best to show that there is no difference between the Modi 2.0 and the Modi 3.0 governments. The party appears to be in denial about its tally in the Lok Sabha dipping from 303 in 2019 to just 240. Modi and the party have been going about proclaiming that an incumbent government returning for a third straight term is “historic”. The Union home minister, Amit Shah, continues to project himself as the Number Two in the government and in the party. He has been chairing meetings to review the BJP’s poor performance in the Lok Sabha polls and to strategise for the upcoming assembly elections. All this has raised eyebrows. Many are asking why a review of the most important state, Uttar Pradesh, where the party’s performance was shockingly below expectations, is being delayed. Is it because fingers are being pointed at the top leadership for the arbitrary selection of candidates? Modi and Shah want to send the message that they might be down but they are far from out.

Lost glory

The Karnataka deputy CM, DK Shivakumar, is a man on a quest to restore lost glory. The go-to man in the Congress who represents Ka­nak­apura in the assembly was let down by his own electorate when his younger brother and incumbent Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha member lost the polls. Shivakumar then dropped hints of contesting from the Channapatna assembly segment vacated by HD Kumaraswamy, who is now a Lok Sabha member and Central minister. But Shivakumar has made a U-turn and dropped the idea. Is he confused or afraid?

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