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No-nonsense Naveen acts on party leader, shows the way

DELHI DIARIES: Chirag Paswan at sea, BJP ministers of Bihar rush to meet Mo-Shah
Naveen Patnaik

Delhi Diaries   |   Published 12.09.21, 12:03 AM

The chief minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik, has built a reputation for having a no-nonsense approach to maintaining law and order in the state. He ensures that action is taken against people violating laws, irrespective of their political connections. This has made Patnaik quite popular among the people. The CM set an example recently when he suspended a member of his own party, the Biju Janata Dal. The Chilika member of legislative assembly, Prashanta Kumar Jagdev, who has the image of being the ‘bahubali’ of the party, was suspended for being caught on camera beating up a local Bharatiya Janata Party leader in his constituency. Patnaik also removed Jagdev from the post of chairperson of the Khurda District Planning Committee. This has opened the door for the arrest of the MLA. Patnaik has just killed two birds with one stone. Not only has he foiled the BJP’s attempt to hit the streets over the issue of deteriorating law and order situation in the state, but he has also been able to send out the message that he will not let anyone breaking the law go scot free.

Training wheels

Chirag Paswan, son of the prominent Dalit leader, Ram Vilas Paswan, is trying hard to step into the shoes of his late father. Paswan Senior was known for being able to correctly judge which way the political wind was blowing and align with the winning side. In fact, this had earned him the sobriquet of “mausam vaigyanik” or the political weather vane. But Chirag lacks this political deftness. He was caught napping when his uncle walked away with all the Lok Janshakti Party members of parliament except Chirag and has now staked claim over the party. The LJP was formed by Paswan Senior and handed over to Chirag. Both the BJP and the prime minister, Narendra Modi — a leader Chirag was in awe of — have dumped him and sided with his uncle, Pashupati Paras. The government has also asked the family to vacate the 12, Janpath bungalow associated with Ram Vilas Paswan for nearly three decades.


Chirag’s well-wishers say he is confused. He does seem unwilling to take a clear political stand — in spite of being disowned by the BJP, he refrains from taking on the ruling party. He is also sending confused signals when it comes to aligning with the Opposition. His admirers say that Chirag was still on his training wheels when his father passed on. This is why he is yet to learn the tricks of the trade.

Be gentle

The appointment of RN Ravi as the governor of Nagaland in 2019 had fuelled hopes of an early solution to one of Asia’s longest running insurgencies. He was not only a signatory to the much-touted Framework Agreement signed between the Centre and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) in 2015, but also the interlocutor for the Naga peace process. Two years down the line, the peace process is floundering and Ravi has been transferred to Tamil Nadu in an attempt by the Centre to get the peace talks back on track. Ravi may also be removed from the role of the interlocutor.

Ravi’s departure has triggered a sense of relief — most organizations directly or indirectly blamed Ravi, a former IPS officer, for the standstill in the peace process. In fact, the NSCN (I-M) had been demanding his removal for some time now. Ravi’s transfer, most feel, should be a lesson for those who think that the Naga people can be forced into “accepting” just any solution. If the Centre does not revisit its policies for Nagaland, it risks wasting the gains it has made so far. That Nagaland has an Opposition-less state assembly for the second time since 2015 to facilitate an early resolution of the Naga talks is revealing. Being overbearing and hasty are clearly not options when dealing with Nagaland or the Northeast.

Anxiety attack

The BJP ministers in Bihar are rushing to Delhi one after another to meet the PM and the Union home minister, Amit Shah. But not all are successful in meeting them. The lucky ones are said to be boasting about their work in the poverty-ridden state. Many are even trying to meet the party president, JP Nadda, and other senior ministers. The rush started when whispers were heard that the top leadership of the BJP and its parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, was unhappy with the performance and conduct of several Bihar ministers, and mulling changes. The petrified leaders are now waiting with bated breath for the axe to fall.      

Comfort zone

Ramesh Chennithala was among the Congress veterans peeved at being ignored while the posts of the district chiefs in Kerala were rejigged. The popular Congressman was the leader of the Opposition in the previous assembly and felt left out when the party picked his younger colleague, VD Satheesan, to take his place in the assembly and then went on to select district chiefs without “sufficient” consultations with seniors like him. Party circles have since been agog with talks of Chennithala being placated with a national role at the AICC. But he is unwilling to stay away from his home state and create space for younger leaders. The seasoned politician that he is, Chennithala knows well the perils of leaving his comfort zone.


Amit Shah’s assurance that the Karnataka CM, Basavaraj Bommai, would lead the party in the 2023 state elections has caused heartburn among senior leaders eyeing the top job. The support for Bommai — whom many see as a stop-gap CM — has not gone down well with senior leaders like KS Eshwarappa and Jagadish Shettar. Bommai’s origin in the Janata ‘parivar’ is another factor working against him as some want old-time loyalists to be considered for the CM’s job.

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