BJP seeks a partner in TN
The BJP is looking for an alliance partner in Tamil Nadu, where elections are due in a few months. Soon after he got re-elected, BJP president Amit Shah sent Muralidhar Rao, the party’s general secretary in charge of the state, to meet Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa. But she kept him waiting and Rao returned without meeting her. Shah now has his eyes set on Vijayakanth’s DMDK and even on M. Karunanidhi’s DMK. The BJP state chief has met DMK treasurer M.K. Stalin to negotiate for seats. While the DMK wanted to give only 18 seats, the BJP wanted to contest 35 of the state’s 235 seats. However, Congress is now saying that DMK is aligning with it. The Congress wants 70 seats from the DMK.
It’s Yechury vs Karat over Bengal alliance
The CPM leadership is locked in a fierce debate over whether the party should have an alliance with the Congress in West Bengal. Prakash Karat, the party’s former general secretary, backed by his wife Brinda Karat, and the Kerala members of the Politburo are opposed to having any truck with the Congress in Bengal. But the West Bengal unit, backed by current CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, is adamant on having an alliance as it thinks that that is the only way to seize power again from the Trinamool Congress as well as stop BJP from growing.
Meanwhile, resentment is high among Congress leaders in West Bengal against A.K. Antony and the Kerala unit of the party for opposing an alliance with the Left. Antony has advised Rahul Gandhi against the alliance. According to Congress leaders in Kerala, their West Bengal unit does not have any clout, whereas in Kerala they are locked in a direct fight for power with the Left. They say it is not in their interest to have an alliance in Bengal. A senior Congress leader in Bengal was heard saying: “Let us see what is more important for Rahul Gandhi, the 22 seats of Kerala or 42 seats of West Bengal.”
Sangma talking to smaller parties in Northeast
BJP president Amit Shah has fielded former Lok Sabha Speaker P.A. Sangma to talk to smaller parties in the Northeast. Sangma will talk to the Sikkim Democratic Front, the Manipur State Congress Party and the Naga People’s Front, among others. If Sangma is successful, he will get a Rajya Sabha seat. A BJP alliance with the Asom Gana Parishad is uncertain. A meeting between Amit Shah and two AGP leaders, Atul Bora and Brindaban Goswami, who were visiting Delhi, did not materialise. On the other hand, Congress is unlikely to have any alliance with Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF). When Ajmal’s brother met Rahul Gandhi last week, he was told that Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi was opposed to having any pre-poll alliance with any party and particularly with UDF. Gogoi is supposed to have told Rahul Gandhi that in case the Congress aligns with the UDF, a Muslim party, they are bound to lose as there would be a backlash in the Hindu-dominated Upper Assam, which is a Congress bastion.
‘Merge-with-JDU’ spree gains ground
Janata Dal United chief Sharad Yadav, the “architect” of the Grand Alliance in Bihar, is working on expanding the base of the original Janata Dal of V.P. Singh. Jat leader and RLD supremo Ajit Singh, a member of the original Janata Dal, has decided to merge his RLD in the JDU on the assurance of getting a Rajya Sabha seat in May. Former Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s Janata Dal (Secular) is also likely to merge with the JDU. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar recently had dinner with Kumaraswamy. Meanwhile, Nitish has applied for a new “chakra” symbol which was the symbol of the Janata Dal.
Growing revolt against Ashok Chavan, Sanjay Nirupam
Pressure has mounted on the Congress high command to change both the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ashok Chavan and Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) chief Sanjay Nirupam. Gurudas Kamath has written to party vice-president Rahul Gandhi demanding that Nirupam be replaced immediately as he is a “total outsider”, being from the Shiv Sena and is promoting only those who have joined the party either with him or very recently. Congress leaders can be heard asking how Nirupam, who lost to Gopal Shetty of the BJP in the Mumbai North Lok Sabha seat with a margin of 3.8 lakh votes in the 2014 elections, was made the MRCC chief. As for Chavan, leaders such as Vilas Muttemwar, Satish Chaturvedi, and Nitin Raut were in Delhi to complain that Chavan was close to the BJP. The Maharashtra unit is also unhappy with Mohan Prakash, the AICC general secretary in-charge of the state. Prakash and Chavan have convened a meeting of the Maharashtra Congress Working Committee on 17 February to ratify a one-line resolution that Chavan is the state PCC chief.
Rakesh Garg wanted a LIGHT posting
Erstwhile Telecom Secretary Rakesh Garg is due to retire within nine months and has been shifted as Secretary in the Ministry of Minority Affairs. Garg had made 11 presentations during his 10-month tenure as Telecom Secretary, but had grown tired of the reluctance of telecom companies to invest in infrastructure and had requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give him a “lightweight posting”.