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Delhi Diaries

Here's what stirring in the national capital
The late Sheila Dikshit.
The late Sheila Dikshit.
PTI file photo

The Editorial Board   |   Published 18.01.20, 07:14 PM


Tougher ride


The Congress leader, PC Siddaramaiah, has sprung back to active political life by energizing his block of supporters in the party. Just when everyone thought the prime troubleshooter and powerful Vokkaliga leader, DK Shivakumar, would have an easy ride as the state party president, Siddaramaiah has thrown in a hat for

MB Patil, a Lingayat leader close to him. This means that Shivakumar might have to press harder to get the position. But those who admire Shivakumar for his grit have no doubt that even Siddaramaiah will eventually pipe down and turn around to back the party’s best go-to man.

Caught out

One of the prime-time rabble-rousers of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Kerala has become a butt of jokes for the troll army over her apparent lack of understanding about the Concurrent List of the Constitution. Defending her party over the Sabarimala temple entry issue, Shobha Surendran mentioned, during a channel discussion, ‘Kerala’s Concurrent List’, leading the anchor and a panelist from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) to ask her to define ‘Concurrent List’. After some typical BJP-style filibustering, Surendran disconnected the call. This gave fuel to Kerala’s vibrant troll army and panelists on other prime-time shows to take jibes at her ignorance.

Loud silence

Successive Central governments have been accused of using the country’s premier investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation, to intimidate political adversaries. This had prompted the Supreme Court to observe that the CBI is a “caged parrot”. The current Narendra Modi-Amit Shah government, however, is being widely accused of using the agency like no other before it. Not only the CBI, but other enforcement agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate and the income tax department are also alleged to have been misused to hound political opponents and even allies.

Recently, the Bihar-based BJP ally, the Lok Janshakti Party, was in the news for raising its voice over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens in a way that made it sound like the Opposition. The Dalit leader, Ram Vilas Paswan, a senior minister in the Modi government, has transferred the reins of the party to his son, the parliamentarian, Chirag Paswan, who sought to assert himself.

With protests mounting over the CAA-NRC, Chirag released a back-dated letter he had written to the Union home minister and BJP chief, Amit Shah, urging a meeting of the National Democratic Alliance members to build consensus over the citizenship bill before pushing it in Parliament. Chirag even indicated his party’s opposition to the NRC. After this, a staffer working in the senior Paswan’s office was nabbed by the CBI and charged with getting work done in the government in exchange for money. Further investigations are on in the case. The Paswans are now silent.

Picture imperfect

Past glory

The Congress had relied on Sheila Dikshit’s remarkable performance over three successive terms to retain power in Delhi in 2013. But the people rejected the Congress, and the Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal became the Delhi chief minister with their support. When mid-term polls took place in 2015, the Congress again relied on the Dikshit legacy with the catchy slogan, “Toot gayi vikas ki dor/chalo fir chalen Congress ki ore”. The voters’ rebuff was far greater this time with the Congress failing to win even a single seat.

A resource crunch and the power of the Dikshit legacy have again forced the Congress to rely on the past and the entire campaign in 2020 revolves around the achievements of the former CM, who passed away last year. While the main slogan — “Congress waali Dilli” — is born out of the Dikshit legacy, the entire discourse is rooted in the achievements of the past. The theme song details the splendid work done during the Dikshit regime — from infrastructure to healthcare, from institutions to reforms. The song — “Dilli ko hamne sajayee thi/Dilli ko hamne banayee thi” — seeks to ignite nostalgia among the voters instead of selling new dreams and new leadership. It is difficult to guess whether the fond memories of the Dikshit regime will be enough to resurrect the Congress even as its glorious achievements are indisputable. Relying on the deceased leader is also a compulsion as the party has not been able to produce a leader of her stature over the last five years.

Is the Union minister of railways, Piyush Goyal, a bozo? His terse reaction to the offer made by the founder and chief executive officer of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, to invest in India has got tongues wagging. Goyal’s boss, Narendra Modi, has given Bezos the cold shoulder too. Is that because the Amazon chief seems to possess the clue to solving India’s burgeoning unemployment problem?

The distribution of the Delhi legislative assembly’s annual calendar was stalled in the nick of time by the declaration of the polls. The calendar usually does not have images of any politician, but this time, the Speaker, Ram Niwas Goel, had, according to an official, suggested that images of the CM and Aam Aadmi Party leader, Arvind Kejriwal, and the deputy CM, Manish Sisodia, be included in it.

Pictures of the two were incorporated in the calendar, which has pictures of the assembly complex, built in 1912 to house the Imperial Legislative Council. However, the objection of some officials to the use of images of politicians in the assembly’s calendar led to a delay, and it could not be distributed until January 6 — the day on which the polls were declared and the model code of conduct came into force. The code prohibits the display of images of political functionaries in government offices. Hence the distribution of the calendars has been put on hold.

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