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regular-article-logo Friday, 19 April 2024

Why Nitish Kumar is on a thanksgiving spree in Bihar

DELHI DIARIES | Smriti Irani seeks PR sheen, 'dynast' Anurag Thakur faces party hurdles in Himachal and more

The Editorial Board Published 17.04.22, 03:05 AM
Nitish Kumar.

Nitish Kumar. File photo.

Clever calculations

The chief minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, has rejected insinuations and questions about him contesting the presidential or vice-presidential elections on behalf of the National Democratic Alliance. He, reportedly, called the rumours “flights of fancy of some people”. However, his actions suggest the opposite. While the state is going through an early heatwave with temperatures soaring between 40 to 45 degree Celsius, Nitish is on a thanksgiving spree and a trip down memory lane. He is touring parts of Patna and Nalanda districts from where he was elected to the legislative assembly and the Lok Sabha several times, thanking people for giving him a chance to serve them. The CM has called the visits that started last month as “personal” and has been meeting his childhood friends, former colleagues, party members and supporters. Now, which CM will spare so much time from his busy schedule and why? A senior leader from his party, Janata Dal (United), said the answer to the question will reveal his next career step.


Brand new

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The Union minister for women and child development, Smriti Irani, is reportedly seeking the help of a PR firm to rebrand her image as a “thought leader” akin to the late Bharatiya Janata Party leader, Sushma Swaraj. Irani hopes to fill the vacuum left by Swaraj who was known as an approachable and articulate statesperson. Seen as a firebrand leader, Irani defeated the Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi, in the party’s pocket borough of Amethi in 2019. However, controversies such as her combative utterances after Rohith Vemula’s suicide and the Jawaharlal Nehru University row of 2016 have defined her image.

Smriti Irani.

Smriti Irani. File photo


Irani has tried to correct this image. A video of her politely countering a Congress office-bearer who questioned her on a flight about price rise has been widely circulated. Irani is taking her time to select a firm that can cement this makeover.


Money matters


The recently-concluded Bihar legislative council polls for 24 seats representing the panchayati raj institutions and urban local bodies left tongues wagging about how money is a driving factor in the elections. Political parties prefer giving tickets to the rich while those who contest independently are also wealthy. Many people pointed out that there is a reason behind this phenomenon. The majority of the voters in these polls are elected representatives of the local self-governance bodies. Their numbers come to around 6,000 per seat and the contestants compete with each other to lure them. Those in the know revealed that the rate for a single vote this time varied between Rs 5,000 and Rs 8,000. The voters took the money and voted accordingly. When asked about the election results, even the CM, Nitish Kumar, allegedly said that these elections did not matter. “Don’t you know how these elections happen,” he retorted. It’s high time the Election Commission took a closer look at the MLC polls.


Prized position


It is no secret that the Union minister for information & broadcasting, Anurag Singh Thakur, wants to be the CM of Himachal Pradesh. His father, Prem Kumar Dhumal, had ruled the state for two terms. In the last assembly elections in 2017, the BJP won but Dhumal lost his seat.


Himachal is due for polls at the end of this year and Anurag is eyeing the CM’s post. Recently, he played a major role in poaching key leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party, which was emerging as a threat to the BJP in the hill state. However, the BJP president, JP Nadda, declared that the saffron party will fight the polls under the leadership of the incumbent CM, Jairam Thakur. People close to Anurag believe that the dislike of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, for dynastic politics is the reason behind the decision. Ironically, Nadda, who also hails from Himachal, had wanted the CM’s post when Dhumal was in power.


Still hopeful


The Odisha Congress could be seeing a change of guard. The Pradesh Congress Committee president, Niranjan Patnaik, recently said to the media that “change is needed, sooner the better”. He said that such exercises are undertaken by the party every two to three years. Patnaik had resigned from the post in 2019 following the Congress’s defeat in the general elections but his resignation was not accepted by the party high command. Many are pressing for a change of leadership but Patnaik’s supporters are hoping that he might receive an extension.


Risky decision


If there is one politician who has resurrected himself in Kerala, it is the former Congress Union minister, KV Thomas. After battling with the senior leadership for years to get his due recognition, Thomas recently attended a seminar organized by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) against the Congress’s wishes. Perhaps he saw it as an opportunity to stay in the limelight, which he did for several days. Whether the party sacks him or not for his decision remains to be seen but the seasoned politician has given a lesson or two on how to grab attention in a politically vibrant state.

Footnote


It seems that the Karnataka CM, Basavaraj Bommai, is running out of luck. His failure to stop the marginalization of Muslims and Christians in the state may not have rattled him but the graft charge against his rural development minister, KS Eshwarappa, seems to have hit him where it hurts.

Basavaraj Bommai.

Basavaraj Bommai. Facebook

Bommai has been unable to reign in the forces of Hindutva as well as corruption. This came as a disappointment to even his party colleagues. Karnataka is due for polls next year.

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