When Modi shared his prize with J.P. Nadda
Early this week, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, was felicitated at the Bharatiya Janata Party’s parliamentary meeting for the party’s victory in four out of the five states that went to the polls. What was the subject of discussion at the event, however, was the PM’s gesture of sharing the credit with the party boss, JP Nadda. On the stage, Modi called ‘Naddaji’ and ensured the latter was beside him when the party leaders came with a giant garland. Nadda, who succeeded Amit Shah as party chief, is basking in the current success of the party. But whispers in party corridors are that Nadda was shining in reflected glory. All the credit for the party’s spectacular poll performance goes to only one leader: Narendra Modi. The popular opinion in the party is that everyone else is basking in reflected light. The problem for Nadda, however, is that even the second position is getting snatched away from him. After Modi’s popularity, if there is something else fetching votes it is Amit Shah’s strategy — the two are the ones being credited for the party’s success, particularly in Uttar Pradesh. Against this backdrop, it is not surprising that Nadda looked humbled when PM Modi sought to share his prize at the party meet.
Do the math
The Manipur assembly poll results have upset the calculations of the anti-Biren Singh camp in the ruling BJP. The incumbent chief minister and his loyalists heaved a sigh of relief on March 10 when the party crossed the majority mark to form the government on its own. It got 32 seats — one more than the majority mark in the 60-member state assembly. Anything less would have given the anti-Biren Singh camp an opportunity to mount a challenge to his leadership. This group is still trying to do so, but party insiders say it will be difficult to replace N Biren Singh because he had gone all out to ensure a majority and his continuance as the CM.
The anti-Biren Singh camp still feels that the central leadership would do a Assam in Manipur by replacing the incumbent CM now that the results are out given the “resentment” against Biren Singh’s “autocratic” style of functioning. The BJP not naming the legislative party leader has only fuelled such speculations. One does not know what the future holds for Biren Singh, but for the time being, his supporters assert that he is safe while admitting that jostling is now on to get into the 12-member council of ministers and secure plump portfolios. Government formation has never been easy, majority or no majority, BJP insiders lamented.
Just when things were beginning to get back to normal after the five-minute-long outburst of the CM, Nitish Kumar, against the Bihar legislative assembly Speaker, Vijay Kumar Sinha, another ugly spat broke out in the House, shocking everybody. The wife of the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief, Lalu Prasad, and former CM, Rabri Devi, called the Janata Dal (United) leader, Ashok Choudhary, satta ka dalal (power broker) in the legislative council. Choudhary called her an anpadh (illiterate), who had no understanding of things. Soon the situation spiralled out of control. Rabri Devi alleged that this was an insult of women and staged a demonstration in the Well of the upper House to protest the remarks, while Choudhary — raking up his scheduled caste status — said that the RJD believed in torturing Dalits, and sought justice over her statement. Leaders of both the parties battled it out for long hours before the Council chairman, Awadhesh Narain Singh, referred the matter to the ethics committee. There have been several other skirmishes as well. Some legislators wondered whether a general intolerance was creeping into the minds of leaders.
Read the sign
The abysmal show put up by the Congress in the recent state polls has turned a good chunk of partyworkers in Kerala against the AICC general secretary, KC Venugopal. Considered as the eyes and ears of the party high command, and especially Rahul Gandhi, Venugopal has had a free run in the party for quite some years now. But it seems like he’s run out of steam and popularity in his home state where posters have started appearing against his continuation in such a high office. The simmering discontent that followed the party’s electoral loss in Kerala last April, when the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front won a rare second successive term, has now visibly come to a boil. This time it’s the scalp of Venugopal that the party workers are after.
Freebies like computers, bicycles, school bags and books are par for the course in several states. But the BJP government in Karnataka has skipped the distribution of bicycles to schoolchildren for the third year in a row, apparently for want of funds. The scheme was launched in 2006-07. The present CM, Basavaraj Bommai, has failed to find Rs 792 crore required ahead of the school reopening in June. Many in the state questioned Bommai giving a salary hike to lawmakers in a state struggling to send its children to school. Such freebies can help fill classrooms.
While the controversy over the cast of The Kashmir Files not being invited to The Kapil Sharma Show seems to have fizzled out, the show host and popular stand-up comedian-turned-actor, Kapil Sharma, is busy shooting in Bhubaneswar for Nandita Das’s yet-to-be titled film in which he plays a delivery boy. Sharma even met the CM, Naveen Patnaik, with Das. Patnaik presented the duo jerseys of the Indian hockey team and some mementos.