The chief minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, recently surprised everyone by claiming that he was the first one in the country to have been named Nitish. He followed it up by asserting that parents in this huge nation started naming their children Nitish after him. The CM was hearing people’s complaints at his ‘janata durbar’. A complainant who had come from a far-flung district because people in his area had been waiting for ration cards for years introduced himself as Nitish Kumar Mandal. This made the CM happy and led to the remarks about his name. While officials and other people present at the durbar stared in disbelief, some used Google without getting conclusive results. The failure of Google also became a topic of mirth till a senior Janata Dal (United) minister put a lid on it by pointing out that the search engine was born decades after Nitish. “You see, Google is of the age of Nitish’s grandson,” the minister said amid laughter. However, the Opposition is trying to connect the incident with megalomania.
The horrific train accident in Odisha on Friday evening came as a shocking blow to the railways minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw. On Friday afternoon, Vaishnaw had addressed a press conference at the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters to boast of big achievements in the railways in the last nine years. He said that under Narendra Modi, the transformation of the railways has made every Indian proud. A technocrat-turned-minister, Vaishnaw also holds the information technology portfolio. This government lacks talent and thus people like Vaishnaw and S. Jaishankar, the diplomat-turned-foreign minister, are prized possessions. Vaishnaw’s rise attracted lot of attention in the corridors of power and there was even a buzz that he could be promoted to finance minister, replacing Nirmala Sitharaman. The Odisha mishap, one of the worst in recent times, might have derailed his growth too.
Bihar has got an active governor in Rajendra Arlekar after a long time. He took charge in February, but was shocked to see the condition of higher education in the state. Almost everything was in disarray and academic sessions were inordinately late. Realising that this was why thousands of students had to go to other states, Arlekar, the chancellor of the state universities, decided to crack the whip. He prepared a schedule for the examinations and asked all universities to stick to it. Sources even said that a vice-chancellor of a prominent university had to drop his plans for a vacation in the United States of America after getting a stern warning from the governor. Although the students are happy that Arlekar is taking a keen interest in their studies, they are also worried about how long he will be able to survive in a state where everything falls prey to politics.
The Assam CM, Himanta Biswa Sarma, was at his sarcastic best when attacking the Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi, on a television show last week. Venting his feelings against the Gandhi scion, who most believe was responsible for Sarma quitting the Congress to join the BJP in 2015, the CM said he has known Rahul since childhood but was “never impressed” by the latter. He added, “there is an ecosystem here that says he has matured when he returns from London; they say Rahul has become mature when he does the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Who waits for 55 years to become mature... If a person takes 55 years to become mature only, when will he work?” For the record, Rahul Gandhi will turn 53 later this month.
The BJP is known for being in election mode 24/7. The Union home minister, Amit Shah, proved just that yet again when he used a packed function organised by the Assam government last month to launch a stinging attack on the Congress and its friends for their decision to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Shah said that the next time around the Congress won’t even get as many seats as last time and predicted Modi’s return as the PM for the third time with 300-plus seats. A Congressman quipped that Shah had also predicted the BJP getting a majority plus 20 seats in Karnataka; what happened to that prediction?
The BJP is still smarting fromthe poll debacle in Karnataka. More than a fortnight later, the party is yet to find a leader of the Opposition. While there were talks about Basavaraj Bommai occupying the chair, sections within the party wanted the former minister, R Ashoka. While the Congress government has hit the ground running and rolled out its five guarantees for the poor, women and unemployed youth within just 12 days of taking charge, the BJP is still groping in the dark to pick its leader. Going by the mood, it may take a while yet.
The former deputy CM of Bihar and now a member of Parliament from the Rajya Sabha, Sushil Kumar Modi, is opposed to same-sex marriages. But he had no qualms using the ‘Pride Month’ hashtag for his tweet on the PM being invited to address a joint session of the US Congress for the second time. As per reports, Narendra Modi will be the fifth person to have got this honour twice; putting him in a league that includes Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela. Sushil Modi’s tweet using the hashtag is bound to raise eyebrows.