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No mobile phones: Opposition leaders wary of Nitish Kumar in Mumbai meeting

DELHI DIARIES | Meeting between Karnataka deputy CM and BJP state vice-president raises false alarm, a tale of two sons in Kerala bypoll and more

The Editorial Board Published 10.09.23, 08:59 AM
Nitish Kumar.

Nitish Kumar. File picture

Memory game

Leaders of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance were wary of the Bihar chief minister and Janata Dal (United) leader, Nitish Kumar, at their Mumbai meeting. They remembered how he had lectured the West Bengal CM, Mamata Banerjee, because she was checking her phone during the Bengaluru meeting. He went on and on about the ills of mobile phones to the embarrassment of everybody. “So this time those sitting around him either did not touch their mobile phones or used it stealthily. Nobody wanted to suffer like Mamata...” said a senior leader who attended the Mumbai meeting. Back in Bihar, Nitish is rarely seen using a mobile phone. In fact, he has often given dressing-downs to his senior officers, cabinet colleagues and party leaders during meetings for wasting their time glued to mobile screens.

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Not carrying his own phone is perhaps why, during a recent janata durbar, Nitish had to ask officials to connect a call to the home minister. However, it was not his dislike for phones that surprised them but the fact that Nitish himself is in charge of the portfolio. When one of the officials mustered up the courage to raise a query, the Bihar CM pointed towards the additional chief secretary of the home department and said, “The home minister is sitting there.” This reminded those present about another incident. “Nitish Kumar [had] invited himself to a cup of tea at a minister’s residence. He arrived on time, had it and went away after a little chat. However, after a few minutes, the minister saw the chief minister arriving again and rushed to welcome him. Nitish stepped down from his car and told him, ‘chai pilaiye’.” The Bharatiya Janata Party in Bihar has alleged that the CM is suffering from dementia.

False alarm

The BJP’s Karnataka kettle has been leaking since the run-up to the assembly elections in May. First, BJP stalwarts, including Jagadish Shettar and Laxman Savadi, joined the Congress ahead of the polls. Others have been dropping telling signs lately after meeting with Congress leaders. But none created such a buzz as the meeting between the deputy CM, DK Shivakumar, and the BJP state vice-president, Tejaswini Ananthkumar, wife of the late Ananthkumar, who was among those who toiled to build the party in the state. However, Tejaswini clarified that the meeting was all about the charity started by her husband which she heads currently.

Tale of two sons

Two father-son stories captured public attention in the Puthuppally assembly constituency in Kerala, where a bypoll was held recently. The seat fell vacant after the death of the former CM, Oommen Chandy. The Congress fielded his son, Chandy Oommen, who romped home riding on a sympathy wave for his father. The second story involved the Congress stalwart, AK Antony, and his son, Anil Antony, who left his father in tears by joining the BJP. Both campaigned for their respective parties. But, in the end, Antony senior had the last laugh.

Great demand

The BJP spokesperson, Ravi Shankar Prasad, seems to be in great demand these days. He is being tasked with media addresses for the party on important issues. When he was in his Lok Sabha constituency in Patna early this week, the party needed him to take on the Opposition on the Sanatana Dharma controversy as per the directive of the prime minister, Narendra Modi.

The party’s media department felt that Prasad alone could be trusted to speak on the subject. He then addressed what was described as a ‘national press conference’ from Patna. Prasad has been spending a lot of time in his constituency since he was dropped as a Central minister. The buzz is that many in the party have been lobbying to get a ticket to contest the Patna Sahib seat and Prasad can’t afford to relax.

In the limelight

The BJP member of Parliament from Bhubaneswar, Aparajita Sarangi, has a knack for grabbing headlines; this time for picking up a fight with a mining lord who has an alleged connection with the ruling Biju Janata Dal. The spotlight was on Aparajita throughout Thursday as she picked up a shovel and dug up the blocked portion of a canal at Deras in Chandaka, about 20 km from Bhubaneswar. The area was blocked by the henchmen of the mining lord who encroached on 150 acres of the land to develop a farmhouse. The local farmers of the area had been suffering as a result of this. Aparajita decided to challenge the might of the mining lord and dug up the blocked portion of the canal, allowing the free flow of water. She even wrote a letter to the CM, Naveen Patnaik, urging him to take action in the interest of farmers.

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