Himanta Biswa Sarma becoming a challenger for BJP top jobs
After consolidating his aggressive Hindutva image, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, is now going beyond it to be seen as a leader with a vision for development. But others in the Bharatiya Janata Party are trying to emulate Adityanath in order to steal his thunder. After Madhya Pradesh CM, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, it seems that his Assam counterpart, Himanta Biswa Sarma, too, has joined the race to be like Adityanath. Sarma is using the opportunity of having been deputed to campaign in Gujarat, the home turf of the prime minister, Narendra Modi and the home minister, Amit Shah, to hit the headlines. First, Sarma used the murder of Shraddha Walkar to play on the ‘love jihad’ angle. Then, he went on to compare the bearded look of the Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi, which the latter has been sporting for the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra, to that of the former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein. Sarma had crossed over to the BJP from the Congress in 2015 and knows all too well that attacking Rahul would please his current bosses. Sarma is known to be the ‘blue-eyed boy’ of Amit Shah. The whispers in the party corridors have it that Shah could be pushing Sarma to compete with Adityanath. After all, it is no secret that Shah apprehends competition from the UP CM, who is widely seen as the likely successor of Modi.
Word of caution
With everything going well with the ruling Grand Alliance in Bihar, the CM and Janata Dal (United) leader, Nitish Kumar, has been talking about promoting his deputy and the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief, Tejashwi Yadav. However, several political leaders have cautioned Tejashwi, the younger son of Lalu Prasad, against it and suggested that he should be prepared for any eventuality. They pointed out the professional growth of all those on whom Nitish had previously showered his affection — namely, the former Union ministers, Upendra Kushwaha and RCP Singh, the BJP leader of Opposition in the state legislative council, Samrat Choudhary, poll strategist-turned-politician, Prashant Kishor, among others. At one point, Nitish had projected them as his successors but later cast them away. In fact, Tejashwi too got a taste of this when Nitish unceremoniously dumped the Grand Alliance to rejoin the National Democratic Alliance in 2017. “Nitish has the tendency of praising somebody to the zenith and then turning away in such a manner that he sinks to the nadir,” a political analyst said.
Chartered flights are in fashion with some politicians in Bihar. Some young political leaders have been hiring private airplanes at the drop of a hat to zoom from one place to another. It is usually supporters who oblige them with flight bookings. The trend was recently revealed after the wife of a minister wanted to fly to Delhi but would not travel except on a chartered flight. Her husband, a private flight buff, yielded after some cajoling. And they say Bihar is a poor state.
Sources said that some of the Aam Aadmi Party candidates in Gujarat are working out local understandings with the Congress in places where their own candidates are weak. Polling in the state is scheduled for early next month. Both parties are attempting to unseat the BJP. The AAP is perceived to be gaining ground in urban areas, especially in South Gujarat and Saurashtra as well as some tribal areas in Central Gujarat, while the Congress’s vote share is spread across the state but is relatively stronger in rural areas. White flag n Skirmishes between the workers of the BJP and the AAP in Delhi during the campaign for the upcoming municipal elections have left the latter demoralised as it lacks adequate cadre base. The latter is better equipped to withstand hostility. Although the lieutenant-governor, Vinai Kumar Saxena, has asked the Delhi Police to pre-empt any flare-up, it remains to be seen whether the latter live up to the task.
The former Karnataka CM and Congress leader, PC Siddaramiah, is facing the challenge of picking a seat since he lost one and won the other in the 2018 state polls. The leader of the Opposition has decided not to contest from Badami but has not yet identified his safe seat. His competition for the CM’s post is the party president, DK Shivakumar, who has pronounced that it would be a ‘one man, one ticket’ election, ruling out a second seat for Siddaramiah. Shivakumar knows too well that the CM’s seat would be his if Siddaramiah ends up losing.
The recent Kerala tour of the Congress leader, Shashi Tharoor, has gained immense media attention. A section of the Congress, led by the leader of the Opposition in Kerala, VD Satheesan, and his predecessor, Ramesh Chennithala, had fought tooth and nail against Tharoor for his ambition of being the CM — a post both leaders are eyeing. But it is the Left that needs to be more worried since a section of the party is already discussing the possibility of many young leaders, who are in awe of Tharoor, migrating to the Congress.