Senior bureaucrats and other officials in Uttar Pradesh are in a race to get in the good books of the chief minister, Yogi Adityanath. They are going to strange lengths for this. Some have taken the job of changing his car’s saffron-coloured seat covers, others keep standing near him to offer him saffron-coloured towels and others still boast of how they have been intimidating the media and preventing any adverse press for Adityanath’s decisions. Amid all this, Vijay Kumar, UP’s director general of police, is having his moment of glory for ordering his subordinates to consider lunar positions to keep a check on crime in the state. In a circular regarding crime mapping, Kumar has stated, “It was found after an analysis [of crimes] in all the districts [of UP] done at the headquarters level that more incidents take place at night a week before and after the new moon [amavasya] according to Hindu calendar. This analysis should be done every month...” This angle of crime mapping seems a perfect fit for the CM and mahant of the Gorakhnath temple, who purportedly depends on the Hindu calendar for all his decisions.
The Congress member of Parliament from Assam, Gaurav Gogoi, has hit a purple patch since he presented the no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government. Congressmen claim that his measured and well-delivered speech not only pitchforked him into the limelight but also triggered a positive buzz in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Assam, cutting across party lines. The icing on the cake is Gogoi’s inclusion in the influential Congress Working Committee. During a felicitation at Rajiv Bhawan in Guwahati, the incumbent Assam Congress chief, Bhupen Kumar Borah, thanked the leadership for placing the “right man in the right post” in the CWC and called Gogoi an asset and a man to watch out for. Borah even said he would request the Congress leadership to allow Gogoi to spend more time in Assam in the run-up to the 2024 general elections.
For a section of the Congress, Gogoi is the leader of the future. He not only has emerged out of the shadow of the late Tarun Gogoi, his father and three-time CM, but is also accepted both within and outside the party. The Congress has been in freefall in Assam since 2014, but partymen now see a ray of hope in Gogoi. Who says being at the right place, at the right time and saying the right thing does not help? These factors are certainly helping Gaurav Gogoi go places.
Language of power
The Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, is known for his strong views in favour of Hindi. Yet most of the posts on Shah’s X (formerly Twitter) handle have been in English lately. This has led to whispers in the corridors of power. The 58-year-old leader is a strong contender to succeed Narendra Modi as the PM. The buzz is that Shah could be trying to refurbish his image. Insiders say that Shah has recently got a professional team to handle his social media and public relations. A survey also found that Shah was most favoured to succeed Modi, followed by the UP CM, Yogi Adityanath. This has bolstered his image. The general elections are less than a year away and if the BJP returns to power, it will kickstart a succession battle within the party. Modi will be 75 — the unofficial age for retirement in the BJP — in 2025.
Amit Shah is the man of the moment. He had a one-on-one meeting with VK Pandian, the private secretary to the Odisha CM, Naveen Patnaik, earlier this month. This has triggered speculation about the growing proximity between Biju Janata Dal and the BJP. However, political pundits are yet to figure out why Shah chose to meet Pandian who is neither chief secretary nor the home secretary. But soon after the meeting, the BJD supported the Delhi services bill in Parliament. The BJD’s parliamentary track record since 2014 made this a given. Now there is speculation that even if BJP and BJD go to the polls separately, they will together ensure that BJP gets the maximum number of MPs and the BJD the maximum number of MLAs. Basic details of such an understanding are believed to have been discussed during Shah’s meeting with Pandian.
The poll consultant, Prashant Kishor, who is on a Bihar padyatra and is inching closer to forming a political party of his own, dropped a bomb recently. He spoke of four Rashtriya Janata Dal ministers with criminal pasts in the present cabinet, whom the CM, Nitish Kumar, and he had rejected from the cabinet in 2015. “Will law and order be good or bad if such people are ministers,” Kishor asked, but refused to reveal their names. The allegations ruffled the RJD’s feathers and invited a backlash. Nitish, however, chose to stay quiet on this. Asked about the development, a senior Janata Dal (United) leader said that he would neither confirm nor deny it and went on to tell the story of Vibhishana. He also pointed out that Kishor has indeed become a politician now and wondered what more ammunition he could be packing.