‘Rajiv wanted Amitabh to quit’
Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi asked his friend and cine star Amitabh Bachchan to give up his Lok Sabha seat of Allahabad in 1987. This is contrary to the impression that Bachchan resigned from the seat on his own. It seems Rajiv Gandhi asked for the resignation after Congress leaders kept complaining that Bachchan was interfering in administrative matters not just in Uttar Pradesh, but also in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. This has been revealed by Indira Gandhi’s confidant Makhan Lal Fotedar in his book The Chinar Leaves. Once, when Fotedar informed the then Rajasthan Chief Minister, Hari Dev Joshi that the PM had told him (Fotedar) that Bachchan wanted a certain person as chairperson of the party’s Rajasthan women’s wing, the CM was adamant that the appointee would have to be anyone but her. V.P. Singh too complained to Fotedar several times against Bachchan’s way of functioning in Allahabad. Fotedar claims that when the PM called him he found that Bachchan too was there, looking charismatic in his white kurta pyjama. When Gandhi told Bachchan that Fotedar wanted him to resign, the actor-turned-politician replied, “If Fotedarji wants me to resign, I am ready to resign.” Fotedar told Bachchan to write to the Speaker on a Lok Sabha members’ letterhead that he was resigning. Bachchan did so and his note was sent to the Speaker and the resignation accepted.
Ahmed Patel worked to bring Lalu, Nitish together
Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel deserves credit for the Grand Alliance’s victory in Bihar, in that he worked silently behind the scenes to bring a reluctant Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar together. He managed to convince Lalu to go with Nitish or get wiped out. Patel convinced Lalu by saying that after five years, his sons would be in a position to become Chief Minister. Sonia Gandhi did her bit by overruling Rahul Gandhi’s veto on an alliance with Lalu. She even swallowed her pride of being the president of a national party and agreed to become the “junior partner” in the alliance.
C.P. Joshi gets a breather
C.P. Joshi, one of Rahul Gandhi’s three favourite general secretaries, seems to be safe for the time being, with the Congress managing to win 27 seats as part of the Grand Alliance victory in Bihar. He was set to be dropped in the forthcoming organisational reshuffle, with complaints piling up against him. But Rahul Gandhi indicated to journalists in an off-the-record chat that a reshuffle would take place only after the next round of Assembly elections and dismissed speculation that only young people would be inducted in the next AICC reshuffle. He is supposed to have said that since he was no longer in charge of the Youth Congress, but was now the Congress vice-president, he had to take everyone along.
BJP ‘rethinking’ its political strategy
The BJP is “rethinking” its political strategy for the forthcoming Assembly elections in different states, following the debacle in Bihar. While Uttar Pradesh is quite similar to Bihar where caste is the main factor, the assessment is that in West Bengal, “communal” issues like Pakistan and beef are not going to work. This may be good news for the Left. As BJP supporters may to turn towards it. Also, economic issues like high prices of pulses seem to have had some effect on the Bihar verdict, as arhar dal is a staple food for Biharis, irrespective of their castes.
Ashok Chavan lands in trouble
Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ashok Chavan made a reluctant pilot take a major risk and land the plane he was travelling in at the Chandrapur airport in Vidarbha without the administration’s permission, as a huge crowd was waiting for him. Chavan then rang up the district superintendent of police asking why no ambulance or police was kept ready at the airport as part of safety measures. The furious SP retorted that no one took permission from him to land the aircraft or pay him the fee needed to send an ambulance or make police arrangements. The SP then threatened to sue Chavan for landing without prior permission, as it could have resulted in casualties. Meanwhile, top Vidarbha leaders such as Mukul Wasnik, Naresh Puglia and Vilas Muttemwar, who are demanding a separate PCC for Vidarbha, similar to the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee, did not attend Chavan’s meeting in Nagpur.
RSS chief visits Prez
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat, accompanied by Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, paid an unprecedented “courtesy visit” to President Pranab Mukherjee to wish the latter on Diwali. Rashtrapati Bhawan sources claim that the President discussed the “prevailing political situation in the country” with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh sarsanghchalak. Bhagwat supposedly wanted the President not to issue any further statements on the alleged intolerance in the country as it only served to “aggravate the situation”.
They apparently discussed the Bihar verdict as well. The President is said to have requested Bhagwat to ensure that BJP ministers do not make any “intolerant utterances”.