Shah vs Patel: It’s Personal
It’s not just political but personal between BJP president Amit Shah and Congress party’s ace strategist Ahmed Patel, with the former going all out to sabotage Patel’s chances of winning a re-nomination to the Rajya Sabha. BJP sources say it’s not as much Modi, but Shah who is keen to ensure Patel’s defeat, wanting to settle an old score from Gujarat politics. The BJP is fielding three candidates for the Rajya Sabha elections, while it has enough numbers for just two. But is hoping to woo some Congress votes its way. To ensure this, Amit Shah has let it be known that he will be the BJP’s third candidate and not its first choice as it would be easier to get the rebel Cong MLAs to vote for him rather than for another BJP candidate. Moreover, to add to the insult, the BJP is fielding a rebel Congress leader as well, Balwantsinh Rajput, as one of its three candidates. If Rajput, an erstwhile protégé of Patel, wins and the Congress leader loses, then it would be a further blow. But Ahmed Patel himself has a few aces and favours up his sleeve, so this is a battle worth watching.
Shah’s Game Plan
Much is being made about Amit Shah’s Rajya Sabha entry. There is speculation that he may want to join the Narendra Modi Cabinet as either Defence or Home Minister. Some even claim that he will be Deputy PM. But sources close to the BJP chief rule that out, saying that this is just a stop gap measure for Shah. His ultimate goal remains scripting a 2019 win for PM Modi. However, Shah plans on contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Ahmedabad, after which he may join the Union Cabinet and play a larger role in government as well. Until then, he will hold the fort on the floor of the House, along with Arun Jaitely and set the party line on key legislative issues.
The arrest of seven Hurriyat leaders by the NIA caught J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti by surprise. She had only recently called on Home Minister Rajnath Singh and pleaded against the arrest. But NSA Ajit Doval and party general secretary in-charge of J&K, Ram Madhav, were in no mood to take a soft line against the separatist leaders. Since then, Mehbooba has made her displeasure clear by hinting darkly that “PM Modi is the man of the moment, but for me India is Indira”. Clearly, the CM has thrown a public sulk, but the BJP is not rushing to placate her. How long will this alliance last?
The Picture is Clear
It was a high profile debut for Parul Sharma, who unveiled a rather unusual exhibition of her photographs capturing urban landscapes in art deco style. The opening night of Parulscape at New Delhi’s Bikaner House saw the capital’s glitterati and “powerati” descend to celebrate the evening. Parul’s photographs, taken in Delhi, Mumbai, Paris, Tokyo, Kyoto and London are in black and white, and capture the urban landscape in stark symmetry with all its geometrical angularities. Present at the evening were Praful Patel, Jitin Prasada, Salman Khurshid, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Pinaki Misra, Yashoraje Scindia and Ranjan and Namita Bhattacharya. With Gujarat and Bihar in the backdrop, the talk was more political than cultural. But like Parul’s photographs, the pictures emerging from these two states are equally stark and uncompromising in its reality check for the Congress.