Does the BJP need journalists anymore?
Early this week, the information and broadcasting-cum-environment minister, Prakash Javadekar, held an advance ‘Diwali Milan’ party for journalists on the sprawling lawns of his official residence. The reason for the advancement was that Javadekar would be busy with elections in his home state — Maharashtra votes on October 21 and the votes would be counted days before Diwali. Asked why his party was toiling so much given the perception that this round of state polls was virtually a cakewalk for the Bharatiya Janata Party, the minister responded with a soft smile and said, “We want an Opposition but what can we do?” He was suggesting that the Opposition was responsible for its own decimation. He added that the BJP takes every election seriously, and that explains the hard work being put in by its leaders, including the prime minister.
Most journos attending the event wondered why the minister was being so nice to them at a time when the ruling party is believed to be in control of the national narrative. Does the BJP need journalists anymore, given that it has an army of professionals to manage the image of the government? Javadekar replied humbly, “No, no… We very much need journalists.” What he perhaps left unsaid was that the BJP needs pet scribes to propagate what the party preaches.
Some senior Congress leaders are of the opinion that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is wasting her time and energy by focusing on micro issues in Uttar Pradesh. The need of the hour, they insist, is for her to emerge as a national leader and create a credible political alternative to Narendra Modi. They have evidently not been informed about the specific task given to Priyanka: she has the responsibility of reclaiming the political space for the Congress in one of India’s biggest states. She was not asked to campaign for the elections in either Maharashtra or Haryana as she is fully occupied with UP. She is thus commenting on every minor and major issue concerning the state, ranging from crime to politics. While she has taken care to tweet about rapes and murders, custodial deaths and fake encounters, she attempted to make a big issue out of the sacking of 25,000 homeguards. She even tweeted about an ongoing fair — Haji Ali Shah Dewa Sharif mela — in Barabanki.
Insiders say that Priyanka is looking for a permanent residence in Lucknow and may start staying there as the assembly elections draw near. The lady, evidently, has her hands full at the moment. So much so that she has even stopped meeting Congress leaders from other states.
Brothers up in arms
The decision by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) to celebrate the centenary of the foundation of the Communist Party of India from this year has triggered the old debate within left circles over when communism started in India. The CPI, the CPI(M) broke away from it in 1964, insists that the date is 1925. The CPI gen-sec, D Raja, even flagged the minutes of a meeting of August 18, 1959. These minutes, written by M Basavapunnaiah, who went with the CPI(M), says, “Date of the foundation of the CPI — 1925”.
While the CPI does not disagree with the CPI(M) that there were communist groups working in India prior to the date it subscribes to, its contention remains that the foundation was laid with the meeting of representatives of these groups in Kanpur in 1925.
The AICC gen-sec in charge of Karnataka, KC Venugopal, needs to be more careful about who he meets in the city. The Kerala politician, who has the ears of the Gandhi family, met one Ishtiaq Ahmed without knowing he has a criminal record. PC Siddaramaiah and others immediately jumped to Venugopal’s defence, arguing that a background check on each visitor is not possible since leaders allow strangers to meet them and take selfies. But the real worry among Congressmen is about being seen with scamsters at a time when senior leaders are in Tihar jail for alleged irregularities.
More on Karnataka. This time from the BJP. The freshly minted state party president, Nalin Kumar Kateel, seems to have a problem with his grasp of general knowledge. Handpicked by his party boss, Amit Shah, it was Kateel’s responsibility to tour each and every district in the state. But there was a problem. The hardliner from coastal Karnataka did not know that his state had only 30 districts. At one place, Kateel said the total number of districts in Karnataka is 34. At another place, he said that the number is 32. The Congress, for once, had a good laugh at the expense of a BJP leader and recommended some primary school textbooks to improve Kateel’s GK.
Haryana has posed a unique problem for the Congress. Its candidates complain that the Manohar Lal Khattar government has selectively released hardened criminals in constituencies where the BJP is weak. These criminals are roaming around the colonies and intimidating voters, party workers and booth agents. Observers of Haryana politics say that this trick was very popular during the reign of Om Prakash Chautala, who used to release criminals and dacoits before the election to terrorize opponents.