Put up a show
Not all that glitters is gold. The coronation of Jagat Prakash Nadda — Naddaji as he is popularly known — as the new president of the Bharatiya Janata Party was grand. The scene at the party headquarters was akin to a grand wedding ceremony. Horses, music bands, men and women dancing on the road reflected the joy within the party at the election of Nadda as party president. Party leaders felt this was no small thing since Nadda is replacing Amit Shah, who is seen as the most successful president of the party till date. “Is it a small thing to ‘step-into’ the shoes of modern day Chanakya, Amitbhai?” one leader queried in order to justify the grandeur of the event. The over-the-top welcome, though, was not in sync with Nadda’s personality; he is known to be a mridubhashi (soft spoken), low profile leader. Is that why some other leaders were whispering that there was a method in the grandness of the event. According to them, it was done to show the world that the two top leaders, Narendra Modi and Shah, were not control freak and were delegating power. “But everybody knows, who will call the shots,” one of them remarked. Almost everyone in the party feels Nadda will head the party but decision-making powers would still rest with the dynamic duo.
It is all about the batter
Singed by the cancellation of the official visit of the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, owing to the anti-CAA protests in the Northeast, the ministry of external affairs has now zipped its lips regarding the much-talked-about visit of Donald Trump expected next month. Reporters starved of details about the arrangements are thus grasping at straws, or rather doughnuts. The confectionary is being spread out as refreshment along with the now ubiquitous dhoklas at official events. This led to reporters putting two and two together to come up with five and giving birth to the phrase, dhokla-do’nut diplomacy.
Students are not the only ones racing against time to finish the syllabus. When Narendra Modi ended his interaction with school students on examination stress at the “Pariksha pe Charcha”, the human resource development ministry was tasked with finding out how many students watched the show through TV and other media. Data received from states and Central institutions like IITs revealed that over 12 crore school children and 3.67 lakh students watched the show. The mammoth bureaucratic exercise ahead for the ministry is much like an end-of-term exam. Perhaps bureaucrats should have tuned in to the PM’s show too.
The Senior congress leader, Digvijaya Singh, recently tweeted that Narendra Modi does not have to care about governance failures, economic woes and unemployment as he will continue to win by using religious divisions and misusing EVMs. Other senior leaders, too, have tried to impress upon the party brass to fight for replacement of EVMs with ballot paper. They argue that the Opposition should not wait for defeats to talk about this issue. But Rahul Gandhi, some say, insists on waiting for credible evidence, even though several politicians are suspicious about EVMs. Perhaps he should listen to the voters: one poster at the Shaheen Bagh protest read, “We want elected PM, not EVM PM”. Is Rahul listening?
The Karnataka CM, BS Yediyurappa, could not have chosen a better occasion than the World Economic Forum in Davos to drop his traditional safari formals and switch to natty suits. Yedi sported western pinstripes, tie and all, in a break from his regular attire. The freezing Swiss winter also brought out his woollies including a trench coat, muffler and gloves. It remains to be seen if the new style statement brings him luck in getting long-delayed assents to form a cabinet.
The Congress leader, DK Shivakumar, too, is trying to turn his luck. He has set his sights on the state party chief’s chair. Although he is a frontrunner, Shivakumar does not want to take a chance. He is thus trying to appease the gods. At a recent temple visit, he offered 1,001 coconuts to the deity. But he could smash some 25 of them, and had to use the services of his assistants to complete the job. Still, Shivakumar is confidently awaiting a call from the headquarters.
Can there be smoke without fire? Maharashtra’s political grapevine has long been abuzz with talk of the Israeli connections of former chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis. But the phone-tapping scandal has now brought the gossip into the mainstream. The present home minister, Anil Deshmukh, has said that some officers had apparently been sent to Israel to learn about snooping softwares by the Fadnavis government, and promised a thorough investigation. The state government has said that the phones of Nationalist Congress Party leader, Sharad Pawar, the Shiv Sena supremo, Uddhav Thackeray, and its spokesperson, Sanjay Raut, were being tapped during and after the assembly elections.
Although Fadnavis has dismissed this as a figment of imagination, even ruling party sources believe that an investigation
into this will unravel several mysteries, including the recent revelations about Israeli software, Pegasus, being used to decode WhatsApp conversations of activists and politicians. The BJP-led government at the Centre has so far denied any involvement in the matter. But the Congress-NCP-Sena combine now hopes to unearth secrets using the Maharashtra angle.