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Politics + religion = Taliban, says Digvijaya

DELHI DIARIES: Why Yediyurappa is giving BJP sleepless nights
Representational image
Representational image

Delhi Diaries   |   Published 05.09.21, 01:35 AM

With the Taliban and Afghanistan having become the subject of discussion the world over, Bihar could not fall behind. Cutting across party lines, politicians in the eastern state have risen to the occasion and shown their prowess in using the two terms to attack each other. As the Janata Dal (United) pitched the chief minister, Nitish Kumar, as ‘prime minister material’, the Opposition, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, hit back. Its spokesperson, Bhai Virendra, reportedly remarked that the only vacancy for the top job right now is in Afghanistan and suggested that Kumar should go there to satiate his lust for power. The RJD also equated the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh with the Taliban, prompting the Bharatiya Janata Party to retaliate by accusing it of turning the state into Afghanistan during its 15-year rule between 1990 and 2005. Soon afterwards, the Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister, Digvijaya Singh, arrived in Patna to gleefully give out a formula: ‘politics + religion = Taliban’. He refused to answer when people asked him if he had any particular party in mind. People are now waiting eagerly to find who fires the next ‘Taliban’ shot.

Coveted throne

Bhupender Yadav, recently inducted as a cabinet minister in the Narendra Modi government, seems to be the new rising star. He has two important portfolios — environment and labour — and holds the post of party national general-secretary in charge of two key states, Gujarat and Bihar.

Yadav is known to be one of the most trusted associates of Amit Shah. Many feel that it was Shah who brought him into the government. Shah is believed to be getting his loyalists into the government to strengthen his position. Yadav is being promoted as a key face of the party in the ‘other backward classes’ domain. Recently, Yadav undertook a ‘yatra’ to take the blessings of the people of his state. This saw him travelling across two states — Haryana and Rajasthan. Haryana is his birthplace and he represents Rajasthan as a Rajya Sabha member of parliament. His yatra fuelled speculations of him emerging as a chief-ministerial face in both the states. In Haryana, none other than the chief minister, ML Khattar, said that young faces like Yadav should take up the leadership baton from ageing leaders. Khattar is 67 years old. In Rajasthan, speculations in party circles led reporters to ask Yadav about being the CM face. Yadav, as expected, termed the speculations as baseless. In party circles, however, the buzz is that Yadav was indeed eyeing the CM’s chair. Now this could be fraught with pitfalls for the budding leader.

Set the course

Who said the Lingayat strongman has been weakened after being made to vacate the chief minister’s seat? At least the 78-year-old BS Yediyurappa does not agree; and that has caused much heartburn in the BJP, whose leaders are reportedly tearing their hair out to convince him not to undertake his much-touted statewide tour to “strengthen” the party ahead of the 2023 state polls.

The party wanted him to simply retire and enjoy the fruits of his labour, but Yediyurappa is in no mood to idle away. The BJP leadership is worried that the tour might send the wrong signal to the people and give a handle to the Opposition to label it as evidence of Yediyurappa strengthening his camp rather than helping the party since it is too early to start the 2023 campaign.

Come together

The pre-poll grand alliance against the BJP in Assam is in tatters. But the Opposition parties are making efforts to come together before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The key players — the All India United Democratic Front and the Bodoland People’s Front — in the alliance formed earlier this year are out after the Congress accused them of cosying up to the BJP after the recent polls. 

The impact of the decision will become clear after the upcoming bypolls for six seats. But the BJP had stolen a march over the Opposition even before the mahajot cracked, with the defections of two Congress and one AIUDF member of the legislative assembly within three months of assuming power. More seem keen on switching sides. But most agree that the Congress-led alliance could have toppled the BJP-led one with more tact and time. The mahajot won 50 seats while the BJP-led front won 75, but the difference in vote share was less than one per cent. This did not translate into seats for the mahajot mainly because of poor candidate selection, lack of a cohesive campaigning and controversies with communal overtones, which were exploited by the BJP. The newly formed regional parties — Raijor Dal and Assam Jatiya Parishad — also cut into the Opposition votes. The Opposition must avoid these mistakes if it wants to mount a serious challenge to the BJP in 2024.


Naveen Patnaik’s love for sports seems to have influenced the Uttar Pradesh CM, Yogi Adityanath. Taking a cue from Patnaik, whose sponsorship of Indian hockey produced spectacular results at the Tokyo Olympics, Adityanath announced support for the Indian wrestling team till 2032 by pumping in Rs 170 crore. The president of the Wrestling Federation of India, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, said that he had approached the CM. Clearly, Adityanath hopes to enhance his public image before the polls next year.

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