In the current order of things in the Bharatiya Janata Party, helmed by the prime minister, Narendra Modi, and the Union home minister, Amit Shah, most old-timers have been sidelined. Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari are the only two faces from the ‘old BJP’ to feature in the Union cabinet. Going by the present hierarchy, the Gujarat duo seems to face no challenge at all. However, some state leaders continue to cause irritation. One example is the former chief minister of Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje. The leadership wants to promote a new face in the state but has not been able to figure out how to sideline Raje without much hue and cry. Rajasthan is due for polls end of this year and Raje has been asserting her claim to be the saffron party’s CM face. When the party recently organised a statewide protest against the Congress government, Raje held a separate show on the same day to mark her birthday. Several important party leaders and legislators turned up at the event. This was seen as an audacious gesture by many. Raje later slammed her critics for calling the birthday event a “show of strength”, emphasising that she does not need to show her worth.
The Odisha CM, Naveen Patnaik, who used to play hockey in his childhood and was the goalkeeper of his school hockey team, was quite happy after his administration completed the construction of the world’s largest hockey stadium, the Birsa Munda stadium, in Rourkela in a record 15 months. The state government faced a lot of flak from the Opposition, which accused it of misleading people by providing false information about the project. However, all the criticism faded away when the Guinness Book of World Records honoured the CM with the certificate of recognition during the opening ceremony of the FIH Hockey Pro League tournament. Stating that the stadium — it has a seating capacity of 20,011 — is a yardstick in hockey infrastructure, an elated Naveen said, “This recognition ... is a testament that our state Odisha has come a long way and has made a mark in the international sports map. It is a matter of great pride for all of us... I dedicate this recognition to the people of Odisha.”
A sloganeering match erupted between the legislators of the ruling alliance and the Opposition during the address of the Bihar governor, Rajendra Arlekar, to both Houses of the state legislature at the beginning of the budget session. The session started with the singing of the national anthem. But towards the end of the anthem, the BJP legislators started shouting their pet slogans, “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and “Jai Shri Ram”. This led to the members of the legislative assembly and the legislative council from the ruling Grand Alliance responding with slogans such as “Jai Hind”, “Jai Bheem”, “Jai Bihar” and “Samvidhan Bachao”. The duel continued till the MLAs of the ruling alliance silenced their BJP counterparts with “Adani” slogans. Such exchanges continued as the session progressed. For instance, when the leader of the Opposition in the Bihar assembly, Vijay Kumar Sinha, pointed out that many government schools did not have their own buildings, the ruling party MLAs asked him to “seek money from Adani”. The name, Adani, has indeed turned into a weapon against the saffron party.
The increasing talks about the Bihar deputy CM and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader, Tejashwi Yadav, replacing the CM, Nitish Kumar, have started affecting the ruling Grand Alliance. But Tejashwi recently stepped in to address the situation. He forbade all the RJD leaders from talking about his ascendancy. “I am in no hurry,” he told media persons. Tejashwi further pointed out that nobody got wind of his marriage. “In the same way, I will become the chief minister whenever I have to. You [media] will not know until then,” he asserted. This has sparked more speculation because the RJD needs just a few more MLAs to form the government, even without the support of Nitish’s Janata Dal (United).
Eye on the ball
Always keeping its eye on the ball, the BJP lost no time in fortifying its power in Tripura, where it won a slim majority, or in Meghalaya, where the saffron party was the first to offer support to the triumphant National People’s Party even after accusing the latter of corruption. Hours after government formation in Tripura, Amit Shah held a meeting with the Tipra Motha Party — the debutant regional party which won 13 of the 60 seats. Although the BJP’s efforts at a pre-poll alliance with the TMP had failed, it immediately resumed the outreach. The BJP cannot run the government smoothly if the TMP dissents since about 90% of the tribal electorate voted for the TMP. Having the TMP on its side not only dilutes Opposition unity, which includes the Left Front and the Congress, but also helps the BJP stand in good stead in future polls.
The Goa Raj Bhavan can rival many publishers with its regular releases of books, including those by the governor, PS Sreedharan Pillai. A former chief of the Kerala BJP, Pillai has written around 165 titles. The Raj Bhavan recently released three of Pillai’s books, including a book on his 16 months as governor which also includes an anthology of his poetry. Pillai, who cites Arnold Toynbee and Arnold Bennett as his inspirations, has also launched a scheme to debut 60 authors in Konkani, Marathi, Hindi and Sanskrit.