Politics can be comical at times. The Telangana chief minister, K Chandrashekar Rao, and his Bihar counterpart, Nitish Kumar, recently held a joint press conference in Patna after a long discussion on Opposition unity. Kumar, who keeps denying his secret desire of becoming the prime minister, was left red-faced when Rao was grilled about whether the Bihar CM, who recently broke-up with the Bharatiya Janata Party and joined hands with the Grand Alliance, should become the Opposition’s prime ministerial candidate. Nitish first gestured that such questions should not be asked, then unsuccessfully tried to stop Rao from answering them, and then tried to flee from the venue. But Rao did not allow any of this. Four times Nitish tried to escape, but each time Rao would ask him to stay, holding his hands to sit him down. This left all the ministers, bureaucrats, politicians present there laughing their hearts out. Meanwhile, Rao postponed answering the questions to a time when all the Opposition parties were together. A Telangana Rashtra Samithi politician later compared Nitish to a youth who tries to run away whenever talks about his marriage are held.
The possibility of Shashi Tharoor contesting for the post of the Congress party presidency has had a salutary effect in his home state. The Kerala Congress president, K Sudhakaran, who never loses an opportunity to lash out at his colleague in the Lok Sabha, didn’t lose any time in welcoming the move and describing Tharoor as an able candidate for the top post. This was the same Sudhakaran who openly warned Tharoor in December 2021 against supporting the Left government’s semi-high speed K-Rail project, which the Congress has been fighting tooth and nail, saying the latter would remain in the party as long as he toed the line. Positions change with fortunes.
Everybody loves a good CBI raid in Bihar. The public stance of politicians may depend on the party line, but there is always a strong undercurrent of love for such raids. A young politician looked bewildered when a senior leader said this recently. The latter explained it in the context of the recent Central Bureau of Investigation raids on Rashtriya Janata Dal leaders. The BJP, freshly in the Opposition in the state, loved it because the raids were providing ammunition to attack the ruling Grand Alliance. The Janata Dal (United), a part of the ruling alliance, liked it because it would keep a stronger RJD under control. As far as the RJD is concerned, there is a simmering feud in the family among the nine children of Lalu Prasad. “One’s loss could be another’s gain,” the senior leader elaborated. The budding politician went wide-eyed while others laughed and consoled him that he would learn politics with time.
The Kerala CM, Pinarayi Vijayan, was saved some serious embarrassment when security concerns kept the Union home minister, Amit Shah, from attending the snake boat race in Alappuzha as part of Onam celebrations. In a decision that surprised even the BJP, the Left government invited Shah to be the chief guest at the boat race, fuelling wild conjecture on why Vijayan invited Shah in spite of being a sharp critic of the latter. The Congress made much of the invitation and Vijayan is certainly heaving a sigh of relief now that Shah is unlikely to attend.
Akhilesh Yadav’s new-found love for Shrikant Tyagi may prove to be a misadventure for him. Angry with Yadav’s decision to send a delegation to meet the jailed leader’s wife, Annu Tyagi, the Noida district vice-president of the Samajwadi Party, Shailendra Kumar, tendered his resignation. Party insiders say that Yadav wants to woo Brahmins by showing sympathy for Tyagi, who was arrested for misbehaving with a woman at the Grand Omaxe Society. However, they believe that Brahmins won’t ally with the SP, which banks on the Yadav-Muslim combine. Worse, Kumar’s exit is a setback for the grass-root politics of the party.
Food for thought
The Twitter war between the Assam CM, Himanta Biswa Sarma, and his Delhi counterpart, Arvind Kejriwal, has put the education and health sectors in both states under the scanner. The Twitter fight has also provided food for thought, such as Sarma’s proposal of having five zonal national capitals to end regional disparity. Sarma said his proposal will ensure that governments like Delhi will not have massive wealth at their disposal; it has got some traction. Those in favour point out that India had two capitals during the British raj — Calcutta and Shimla. They also point out that multiple capitals could lead to ‘real integration’ of the Northeast.
The resignation of Kavita Krishnan, a politburo member of CPIML Liberation, for critiquing Stalin led to a wave of trolling. So much so that even CPI(M)’s women activists spoke up against it. The CPIML Liberation said in an unprecedented statement: “We strongly condemn the misogynistic online bullying and trolling... While this is to be expected from right-wing elements, we call upon those associated with wider Left circles who are posting abusive comments... to immediately desist from such shameful behaviour.”