The Bharatiya Janata Party organised a dazzling programme to woo the Yadavs away from the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Lalu Prasad. The minister of state for home affairs, Nityanand Rai, himself a Yadav, was the chief guest. Rai slammed Lalu and his family, questioning why Rabri Devi was chosen as the chief minister in Lalu’s absence when there were so many worthy Yadavs for the post. The RJD chief, well-known for his earthy mannerisms, did not take this kindly. “Should I have made your wife the chief minister instead of Rabri,” Lalu hit out with an impish smile, adding that neither the RJD nor its present government would have been there without Rabri Devi. He also pointed out that Kansa was a Yadav as well and asked the people to stay away from such evil, divisive forces. “And this MoS, he used to approach me often to join my party. He used to get cattle slaughtered. He was a contractor. If I pit my elder son, Tej Pratap Yadav, against him, he will lose in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections,” Lalu added. Rai has been fuming since then.
Friends to foes
Once an apple of journalists’ eyes, the Bihar CM, Nitish Kumar, now often complains about not getting space in the media. He regularly picks on scribes and even grumbles about them in the legislature, dropping hints about the media succumbing to pressure from the BJP-led government at the Centre to eclipse him. But vernacular newspapers in Bihar are full of reports on him, and English dailies with editions in Patna also prominently showcase him. Even national newspapers do not miss anything important on him.
Nitish Kumar. The Telegraph
On the other hand, editors have pointed out that Kumar has stopped inviting journalists to his janata durbar and other important functions and that his office no longer provides information about his daily schedule. One editor even asserted that Kumar has chosen to emulate the prime minister, Narendra Modi, by not holding a single formal press conference in the last few years. The only thing that remains unchanged is mediapersons being shoved around by his security personnel.
Eternal bickering between the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party has left a historic library in darkness. The 161-year-old Hardayal Municipal Heritage Public Library near Chandni Chowk has not had electricity for almost two months after defaulting on bills. Staff have worked without pay for almost three years. The impasse continues even after AAP wrested the Municipal Corporation of Delhi because the BJP-appointed library secretary refused to hand over power to the newly elected secretary from AAP.
The Election Commission of India recently removed an observer each from the three states where polling has just concluded. Surprisingly, no reasons have publicly been given for the removals. But the press in Madhya Pradesh is awash with gossip that observers allegedly demanded things like trips to Goa, tickets to a tennis match and even a bottle of scotch in lieu of not reporting anything adverse to the ECI.
BY Vijayendra, the newly installed BJP president in Karnataka, seems to be a quick learner. When a slew of top leaders, including the BJP national general-secretary (organisation), BL Santhosh, and the Union minister, Prahlad Joshi, skipped the event where he assumed charge, he warned that “anyone opposing me is opposing Narendra Modiji.” The ascendance of Vijayendra, son of the BJP stalwart, BS Yediyurappa, to the top post in the state has irked many leaders. But having a teacher like Yediyurappa back home, there’s no shortage of political acumen.
The Left Democratic Front government of Kerala has embarked on an image makeover tour before the Lok Sabha polls. Battered by sustained allegations, the government is not taking any chances. Led by the CM, Pinarayi Vijayan, LDF leaders are going to the people to highlight the government’s achievements and to take their feedback during the Nava Kerala Sadas. Pitted against the Congress-led United Democratic Front that won 19 of the 20 Lok Sabha seats riding on Rahul Gandhi’s candidature from Wayanad in 2019, the LDF is eyeing at least a dozen seats this time.
While campaigning in poll-bound Rajasthan, the Assam CM, Himanta Biswa Sarma, targeted the state government for corruption and claimed that Rajasthan and Assam share a close link. Sarma’s claim proved prophetic. Back home, a leader of the fledgling Opposition alliance in Assam told the media that corruption would be their key poll plank, especially that linked to the CM. That is a close link indeed.