Tejashwi wins Round 1 in 'war of letters' with Nitish
War of words
Both the Bihar chief minister, Nitish Kumar, and the leader of the Opposition, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, are fond of hurling ‘missive missiles’ upon their targets. The latter often dispatches letters on problems in the state to Kumar, much to his chagrin. So when Tejashwi recently wrote one to him, highlighting the importance of the river-linking project for the state and asking him to do the needful, scribes asked Kumar about it. However, Kumar chose to make fun of it, asserting that he only hears from the media about such letters which never reach him.
Stung by it, Tejashwi immediately shared a picture of his letter, duly stamped as received by the chief minister’s secretariat. “Not only the chief minister but the chief minister secretariat seems to have got tired... How can a chief minister of a state be so ignorant, disillusioned, and live in the dark that he publicly says that he has not received a letter from the opposition leader about issues of public importance,” Tejashwi said. Exhibiting that he is a wily politician, Kumar chose to keep quiet this time.
Keep an eye out
The Karnataka Congress chief, DK Shivakumar, always had a way with wit and repartee. With the whole nation discussing how the SUV of a Union minister’s son ploughed through protesting farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh — the incident led to the death of at least eight people — Shivakumar appealed to everyone to film moving cars of Bharatiya Janata Party leaders. His contention, possibly made half in jest, was that any video footage could end up being crucial evidence in some future investigation since one would never know when these leaders might run people over.
Turn the tide
It is no secret that the Congress leader, Ramesh Chennithala, is miffed at the recent developments in the party’s Kerala unit. After replacing him as leader of the Opposition following the poll debacle, the leadership quickly appointed K Sudhakaran as the new state party chief. While neither decision went down well with Chennithala and the old order, the old-timer has clearly set his ambitions high to climb his way back into the spotlight. The first thing he did was resign from various party organizations of which he had earlier assumed charge. He has since been interacting more with party workers and the media. The smart politician that he is, even his adversaries know he has the ability to turn the tide.
The popularity of the Odisha CM, Naveen Patnaik, can be gauged from the fact that even though he had not campaigned for his party candidate, Rudra Pratap Maharathy, in the by-election to the Pipili assembly seat in Puri district this time, the Biju Janata Dal still won by a convincing margin of more than 20,000 votes.
Even though all prominent BJP faces from the state, including the Union minister, Dharmendra Pradhan, and the national spokesperson, Sambit Patra, had campaigned for their party candidate, Ashrit Pattanayak, they failed to make a dent in the BJD bastion. BJD workers only went from door to door with Patnaik’s pictures and video messages. Both parties are yet to fully understand what connects people with Patnaik. While his critics say he wins because of a well-planned election strategy, others think that Patnaik’s clean image and pro-poor policy act as a magnet for voters.
The Election Commission is set to hire a private firm for 24-hour monitoring, response and maintenance of its website and social media handles, sources claimed. Routine flak online from activists and politicians has led the panel to shrug off its ‘publicity shyness’.
But the expenditure — one staffer estimated it to be a couple of crores annually — is being questioned. Although lesser than what other public agencies spend on their online profile, the cost will be significantly higher than what is now paid to a clutch of temporary staff managing social media handles. In an informal discussion, an officer cited India’s 41 per cent internet penetration to suggest that such an outreach is unlikely to make much impact on voter enrolment. A source said they are being cautious to avoid a controversy like Maharashtra’s chief electoral officer faced last year by allegedly hiring a firm linked to the BJP.
The BJP has been hailing the prime minister, Narendra Modi, as the ‘globally loved leader’. While many leaders are competing in the game of sycophancy, the Madhya Pradesh CM, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, is standing out, raising eyebrows in party circles. Earlier this week, Modi completed 20 years as “head of a government”, and everyone in the party had to shower praise on him. Chouhan stood out by posting not one — like most senior leaders did — but around three tweets in praise of Modi. Recently, Chouhan was in Delhi to meet the PM. It was not clear if he was called or he went on his own. The meeting, amid generational change in the party, triggered whispers in the power corridors. The 62-year-old leader is the longest serving chief minister of the state. Many feel it is high time Chouhan now made way for the next generation. Is that why Chouhan wants to please the PM?
The ‘annual defacement’ show of the Hindutva rabble-rouser, Vishnu Gupta, got all the wrong optics this time with a video of him fleeing the police going viral. Gupta touts himself as a saviour of the capital’s Hindus and routinely defaces road signage with Islamic names, and organizes celebrations of Queen Victoria for ousting the Mughals and the former American president, Donald Trump. This year, too, he defaced the Akbar Road signage and gave bytes to TV channels until the cops showed up.