Modi-Shah fail to enforce Gujarat model in totality
The prime minister, Narendra Modi, and his most trusted comrade, the home minister, Amit Shah, are widely known to have established a firm grip over the Bharatiya Janata Party. In spite of this, whispers in the party corridors have it that they have not yet succeeded in enforcing the Gujarat model in totality. This was evident as the party geared up for polls in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. While the hill-state saw large-scale rebellion from party leaders on being denied tickets to contest, nobody could muster such courage in Gujarat. In Gujarat, two prominent leaders, the former chief minister, Vijay Rupani, and the former deputy CM, Nitin Patel, were asked by the top leadership to opt out. They quietly declared that they would not contest. In contrast, a rebel leader in Himachal, Kripal Parmar, refused to withdraw even after a phone call from the PM. The video of the telephonic conversation, in which the rebel leader was clearly heard slamming party chief, JP Nadda, for 'insulting' him. The audacity of the leader has amazed many party stalwarts, who find themselves pushed to the margins by the duo.
Show of respect
Although mostly party workers and junior politicians touch senior leaders' feet, sometimes the latter, too, resort to it. The Bihar CM, Nitish Kumar, indulged in it during Guru Nanak’s Prakashotsav celebrations. He first touched the feet of the Sikh religious leader, Baba Mohinder Singh, and an infrastructure company owner, Sumit Singh Kalsi, at Rajgir and then repeated it at Takhat Sri Harimandir Sahib (the birth place of Guru Gobind Singh), overwhelming the pilgrims. The rewards were instant with people chanting ‘Sat Sri Akaal’, asserting that Nitish will definitely become the PM in 2024. The CM has become a cynosure of Sikhs across the globe after he organised a spectacular celebration of the 350th Prakashotsav of Guru Gobind Singh in 2017. The Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and deputy CM, Tejashwi Yadav, too, touched Nitish's feet on his birthday. A smiling Nitish blessed him to attain further heights. Tejashwi’s next stop is the CM's post. Climbing higher may take time.
The Assam CM and BJP leader, Himanta Biswa Sarma, was in his element while campaigning for the ruling party in Gujarat. He picked on the Delhi CM and Aam Aadmi Party leader, Arvind Kejriwal, and the Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi. People of Gujarat do not need mohalla clinics when they have super specialty hospitals, he said. Gujarat supplied oxygen to Delhi to cope with the pandemic, he added, to highlight Gujarat’s development. He then targeted Rahul for not being “at the crease” in Gujarat, preferring instead to “play from the dressing room”. He also attacked the “anti-Hindu” MLAs of AAP. Sarma is known for his oratory and it was on full display. But people reminded him about 2014, a year before Sarma left the Congress. He had then said that while water flows through water pipes in Assam, the blood of Muslims flows through water pipes in Gujarat in an oblique reference to the 2002 communal riots there. He had even asserted Congress did not seek votes in the name of religion. A lot has indeed changed since then.
The Union agriculture minister, Narendra Singh Tomar, has come to the rescue of Odisha BJP leaders who have been facing a tough challenge from the ruling Biju Janata Dal in the Padampur bypolls scheduled for December 5. The area is a drought-affected belt and farmers there have been demanding the disbursement of insurance money under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. The state government has consistently targeted the Centre on the issue. Hence, the BJP sought to win the support of the farmers in its own way. Its candidate went to file the nomination papers on November 14 but returned without filing the papers. Later, the party said that its candidate did not file nomination papers to express solidarity with the farmers.
Soon after, the Union minister for education, Dharmendra Pradhan, met Tomar and convinced him that the release of insurance money was crucial for the BJP in Padampur. Tomar immediately announced that the farmers of Bargarh district including Padampur would get the money. On the other hand, the BJD grilled the Centre for releasing the money for only one district. The CM, Naveen Patnaik, also announced a Rs 200 crore package for the droughthit farmers of the state. One has to see who benefits more from this in the end.
Clutching at straws
The BJP veteran, KS Eshwarappa, has found a way to convince his party that he should be given a ticket to contest the 2023 Karnataka polls. The 74-year-old feels that the BJP would lose his Shimoga seat if he’s not given a ticket. With the party opting for fresh faces to tide over the anti-incumbency factor, Eshwarappa is fearing exclusion. Forced to resign over corruption allegations, Eshwarappa is making a last-ditch attempt to return to politics.
Shashi Tharoor is the topic of discussion in the Kerala unit of Congress. The three-time Lok Sabha member from Thiruvananthapuram decided to strengthen his footing in his home state, taking everyone by surprise. After contesting against Mallikarjun Kharge for the AICC presidential election, Tharoor wants to leverage the goodwill of the Kerala Congress. As a start, he is scheduled to meet top Congress allies, including the Indian Union Muslim League. Congress watchers are keenly observing how Tharoor can manoeuvre the murky waters of state politics.