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Delhi power circle soaks in Assembly poll conspiracy theories

DELHI DIARIES: When Lalu Prasad turned 'parivarvaad' jibe on its head
Yogi Adityanath
Yogi Adityanath
File picture

The Editorial Board   |   Published 13.02.22, 01:09 AM

At loose ends

The ongoing assembly elections in five states have set the corridors of power in New Delhi abuzz. Meet anyone, bureaucrat, politician or other power-players, and curiosity about the outcome of the polls spills out. Given the importance of Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state, most people want to know whether the Bharatiya Janata Party would be able to retain its grip over it — the state has 80 Lok Sabha seats — or face a shock defeat. Reports coming from the ground and opinion polls are being closely followed by politicians and bureaucrats. However, the curiosity has also given rise to different kinds of whispers. One such rumour has it that the top leadership of the BJP wants a victory in Uttar Pradesh with a simple majority and not a big mandate like in 2017. Why? Because  it wants to keep the incumbent chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, in check. Some even go to the extent of predicting that if the BJP’s tally slips below 250 out of 403 seats, then the leadership might even change the CM. This means that Adityanath, the rising face of aggressive Hindutva, could be replaced. This could sound unbelievable given Narendra Modi’s public expression of fondness for the saffron monk. The proponents of this line, however, point to Modi’s penchant for springing a surprise.


All in the family

While the big guns in the BJP continue to fire parivarvaad — family/ dynasty politics — volleys at Opposition parties like the Samajwadi Party and the Congress in the Uttar Pradesh poll campaign, the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief, Lalu Prasad, turned the argument on its head. “What can we do if the prime minister, Narendra Modi, did not have children or the Bihar chief minister, Nitish Kumar, has a son who is not fit for politics? We can only pray to god to give them many kids so that they can also indulge in parivarvaad,” said the rustic leader with an impish smile. Of course, this raked up the much asked question about whether the PM is married or separated — or both at the same time. The answer is as elusive as ever. On the other hand, Prasad and his ex-CM wife, Rabri Devi, have nine children, including three who are in active politics. Incidentally, the RJD is supporting the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh.

Clean sweep

The Opposition Congress in Meghalaya lost 12 of its 17 members of the legislative assembly to the Trinamul in November. Earlier this week, the remaining five MLAs formally joined the National People’s Party-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government, which has the BJP as one of its allies. While the development has left several arch-rivals squirming as they are now part of the same government, the NPP cannot stop chuckling. It has not only quietly strengthened its hold on the multi-party government in the run-up to the 2023 assembly polls, but has also neutralized any possible threat from the Opposition by welcoming the Congress members into the government fold. This move reflects, yet again, the Congress’s growing disconnect in the Northeast. The NPP has killed two birds with one stone besides making the road for a Congress comeback in 2023 extremely difficult.

Litmus test

The Karnataka CM, Basavaraj Bommai, has been walking a tight rope ever since he assumed office in July 2021. A surprise choice to replace BS Yediyurappa, it is Bommai’s background as a socialist — he was part of the undivided Janata Dal — that has been haunting him for long. Things have only gotten worse since he occupied the CM’s chair. But the ongoing hijab row that has led to massive protests in the state has become the litmus test he must pass with flying colours. After pushing through an anti-conversion bill, Bommai is now trying his best to show his hardcore Hindutva side — he is desperate to prove that he is more saffron than the rest. This matter has arisen at a time when there has been talk of replacing him before the 2023 state polls. Bommai is leaving nothing to chance to prove how saffron he is, for he knows much is at stake.

Keeping the law

The Bihar legislative assembly speaker, Vijay Kumar Sinha, is making waves for lambasting the police for their complicity in compromising prohibition and, by default, putting the Nitish Kumar-led National Democratic Alliance government in the dock. Sinha was visiting his native Lakhisarai district and received complaints about the police arresting two youths on allegedly false charges of brandishing firearms.

Sinha lost his cool and said: “The police have gone wayward. They do not even listen to the assembly speaker. If they seize 100 bottles of liquor, they show only five in the seizure list. The smugglers are succeeding in selling alcohol in Bihar due to the cowardice and weakness of the police. Prohibition cannot fail without the complicity of the police.” The state went dry in April 2016, but it just pushed the liquor trade underground where it has been flourishing since then.


The PM’s praise for Naveen Patnaik, the CM of Odisha, in the Rajya Sabha set tongues wagging. The PM lauded Patnaik’s efforts to initiate reforms and implement Central schemes in the spirit of cooperative federalism as well as the attempt to reform the mining sector. This is not the first time that the PM has heaped praise on Patnaik. Rumour has it that Modi needs the Biju Janata Dal’s support in Parliament, especially the Rajya Sabha where the NDA lacks numbers.


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