Monday, 30th October 2017

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Is Arun Jaitley losing his charm with the media?

Delhi Diaries: Jaitley, Mayawati, Sonia, Rahul

By The Telegraph
  • Published 22.09.18, 11:08 PM
  • Updated 22.09.18, 11:08 PM
  • 4 mins read
Arun Jaitley File Picture

Shifting ground

The national media’s fondness for Arun Jaitley is well known. So much so that there have only been a handful of occasions when Jaitley has found himself out of the spotlight. Of course, Jaitley’s opponents describe the media’s love for their adversary as proof of Jaitley’s clout in the corridors of power. There is, however, some speculation that Jaitley’s long shadow over the media may be diminishing a bit. Take, for instance, what happened the other day. At the lecture series organized by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the media wanted to focus on every word uttered by Mohan Bhagwat — the man who cracks the whip in Nagpur. The proceedings were thus beamed live by the public broadcaster as well as by a number of private networks. On the first day of the address, while Bhagwat was still making a point or two, the media’s blue-eyed boy, Jaitley, was scheduled to speak on the state of the economy. The coinciding of the two events put the channels in a spot. Doordarshan, like the obedient student that it is of its political masters, quickly cut Bhagwat out and focussed on Jaitley. But private news networks continued to beam Bhagwat’s views. Now is this because of Jaitley losing his charm? Perhaps. It could also be that the private channels knew there would be few takers for Jaitley’s defence of an economy that is going nowhere.

Mayawati File Picture

Switch sides

Will she? Won’t she? At the moment, it looks like Behenji ‘won’t’. That is she would not be a part of an alliance featuring the Congress in poll-bound Chhattisgarh. Mayavati’s abrupt decision to team up with Ajit Jogi has come as a bolt from the blue for the Congress in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. Kamal Nath was said to be counting on Satish Mishra’s assurance that all was well between the two parties. Nath was even prepared to leave a couple of seats for the Congress’s ‘allies’ such as the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party. There is a reason for such benevolence. In 2013, the Congress had lost 55 seats where the victory margin was less than the votes pulled by outfits like the BSP, SP and other smaller parties. This time, Nath did not want to take any chances. However, with Behenji sulking, the calculations have gone haywire for the Congress. Several conspiracy theories are being floated to explain Mayavati’s decision. Some say this is Behenji’s way of extracting her pound of flesh in terms of seats for not just the upcoming assembly polls but also the general election. Others say that Mayavati’s hand had been forced by a deal between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the BSP. Apparently, one of the perks is the Bharat Ratna for Kanshi Ram. Should not Rahul Gandhi come up with a better offer to keep Mayavati in the fold?

Wise words

Amidst the sound and fury of the Rafale War, Sonia Gandhi’s participation in the second Eurasian Women’s Forum in St Petersburg in Russia went almost unnoticed. Interestingly, Sonia’s speech reflected the thoughts that are churning in her mind. She chose to attack fascism and Hitler at a convention that sought to discuss women’s issues. Sonia said, “Meeting in this historic city, how can we forget, how here in Russia in 1941, Hitler’s blitzkrieg of mighty tanks and armies was stopped in its tracks not just by the men of the Krasnaya Armiya, but by the combined effort of over one million women who were on the front line as soldiers, fighter pilots, doctors, tank drivers, aircraft gunners, partisans, and snipers as well as support staff.”

While discussing women’s issues, the former Congress president did not forget to highlight the importance of diversity. “We must celebrate and welcome our diversity of colour, class, caste, and custom, for it is that very diversity that remains one of our greatest strengths. The movement to advance and secure the lives of women must be one that is inclusive of all sections and accepting of all differences.”

Read the tea leaves

Now some tea for thought. Rahul Gandhi had a grand show in Bhopal the other day. A large number of citizens, irrespective of faith, caste and gender, had lined up to catch a glimpse of the Congress leader. During his 12-km-long road show, Rahul’s first stop was at Pir Gate where he savoured such delicacies as tea and pakora at the famous Raju Tea Stall. The shop is a bit of an attraction in Bhopal. The owner even displays a currency note that was signed by Bimal Jalan, a former governor of the Reserve Bank of India, who, it is said, loved the tea there. Should not the state BJP indulge in some chai pe charcha, given the response to Rahul’s road show?

Change within

The baton has changed hands in the Congress in West Bengal. Somen Mitra is now in charge of the state unit, replacing Adhir Chowdhury. There is a view that Mitra’s selection is based on political considerations. Chowdhury’s relationship with the ruling Trinamul Congress is quite sour. Mitra, the Congress leadership feels, is better placed to mend the fence with Didi. Who knows, the two could then take on the BJP in an alliance?

What would Chowdhury be left with then? The leader from Murshidabad has pledged to serve under Mitra but the Congress is a divided house. Will the Bengal BJP, perennially short of leaders of stature, start fishing in troubled waters?

Kareena Kapoor Khan
Kareena Kapoor Khan File Picture


Cake is yummy. But a customized cake is yummier. When she turned another year older on September 21, Kareena Kapoor’s close friends and family decided to present her with a customized cake at the stroke of midnight. “You are our rockstar” was the line that had been etched on the cake. One wonders what Saif Ali Khan, the other star in the family, has to say about this?