The Karnataka deputy chief minister, DK Shivakumar, has become a star of sorts after leading the Congress to victory in the state assembly elections seven months ago. Although he lost the race to the CM post to PC Siddaramaiah, Shivakumar’s popularity has only risen since then, in and outside Karnataka. Having been appointed a party observer in the recent Telangana elections, Shivakumar’s name is being heard from every corner of the neighbouring state. He outshone Siddaramaiah in terms of popularity during their recent visit to the swearing-in ceremony of the new CM in Telangana, where party leaders were seen making a beeline to meet and greet him. The man seems to be firm on his mission to succeed Siddaramaiah in a rumoured power-sharing agreement. Every bit of popularity now counts for the Vokkaliga strongman.
Ready for battle
The Bharatiya Janata Party national spokesperson, Sambit Patra, who was defeated in the 2019 general election by the Biju Janata Dal candidate, Pinaki Mishra, in the Puri Lok Sabha constituency, has learnt the hard way that one needs to mingle with the masses ahead of elections instead of participating in television news debates.
Patra, who has been visiting the constituency frequently in the past few months, was recently crooning the song, “Tujhe dekha toh ye jana sanam”, from the Hindi film, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, while attending an event at the Boita Bandana Utsav, which celebrates the rich, ancient maritime trade practices of Odisha and its spirit of entrepreneurship. People gave Patra’s singing a rousing cheer. He has also invited senior party leaders and Union ministers to Puri. The poll bugle has been sounded as far as Patra is concerned.
Mizoram has been a revelation in more ways than one. It witnessed the most peaceful polling among the five states that went to polls recently. It also had the least amount of cash seized — almost nil — compared to the other four states. Even though it had a low-key campaign, the people of the state decisively rejected both the Congress and the Mizo National Front and handed the Zoram People’s Movement, registered only in 2019, charge of the state. Mizoram also emerged as one of the last frontiers that the BJP’s electoral juggernaut has not been able to breach.
Although the BJP managed to open its account in 2018 with a single seat and improved upon its tally by winning two seats this time, it failed to get itself included in the ZPM-led government even after publicly expressing willingness to be a part of a ‘non-Congress government’ and warning voters that it would be difficult to run Mizoram without the Centre’s help. The MNF had similarly not included the saffron party in the government formation in 2018. By filling up all the 12 ministerial berths in one go last Friday, the ZPM has sent a message to the BJP that it will chart its independent course.
The official website of the Election Commission of India redirected visitors from its main website to the results portal on the day that the results were announced for the state assembly elections. This knocked the wind out of most reporters as they could not access the results of the previous polls, notices for violations and election laws, and were forced to rely on the data on some of the chief electoral officers’ websites. Most of this was available only through search engines and not hyperlinks. The ECI’s tech team couldn’t restore access to the main website until well after most newspaper editions had been printed.
Several curators of the National Museum were missing from their posts last week as they were deputed to the inaugural edition of the Indian Art, Architecture & Design Biennale being held at the Red Fort. The museum isn’t named as a partner of the biennale. Other bodies affiliated with the organiser, the Union culture ministry, have their logos on the publicity material. Murmurs of discontent have thus been echoing in the corridors of the museum, which has lent some of its exhibits for the biennale.
Delhi’s busiest minister was given more power last Friday. The Aam Aadmi Party minister, Atishi, the only woman in the cabinet, will also be helming the law department — her 14th portfolio. This was done by the Arvind Kejriwal government to dodge another confrontation with the lieutenant-governor, VK Saxena, who pulled up the previous law minister for sitting on files. Atishi has gone the distance in the AAP — she dropped her surname, ‘Marlena’, derived from Marx and Lenin, and has also been toeing the party’s controversial lines on Bangladeshis and Rohingyas.