Kejriwal’s Course Correction
Recently former Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh had levelled the bahari (outsider) charge at Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. The Captain had claimed that though Kejriwal is from Haryana he wants to shift to Punjab and could be the dark horse CM face for AAP in the coming state polls. Since Haryana and Punjab have an acrimonious history, this jibe struck home and during his recent visit to Abohar in Punjab, Kejriwal took time for a well publicised “family reunion” with some of his “maternal” relatives from Punjab. It is another matter that he met with them after a gap of 26 years. When quizzed by the media, his uncle Duli Chand said that the meeting was at Kerjiwal’s instance, for he had requested a meeting with his family over tea. And while none had been invited for the Delhi CM’s swearing in or even told their neighbours about their Kerjiwal connection, the tea party was a huge hit, even though an AAP worker unwittingly gave away the real agenda when he said, “Now Kejriwal cannot be called an outsider anymore.” Oh dear.
Night of the small knives
Are the kirpans out in the NDA over the three Rajya Sabha seats slated to go to the polls on 21 March that fall within the Akali Dal-BJP kitty? Currently, two of these belong to the Akali Dal and one to the BJP, but with only 12 MLAs, the BJP needs Akali help to get its candidate through. After a night of negotiations on 4 March, the Akalis finally said yes. But at a price. The Akalis have, for long, been pushing the Central government to bring an amendment to the Sikh Gurudwaras Act 1925 that would prevent Sehajdhari Sikhs from casting a vote in the SGPC elections. Sehajdhari Sikhs are those who have not been baptised, but who follow all the tenets of Sikhism. At present there is a tussle going on between the current SGPC head and the Sehajdhari faction. This amendment will help consolidate the Akalis’ Sikh voter base, which took a hit recently in incidents that saw the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib. This amendment allows only baptised Sikhs to vote in the SGPC elections. And though the RSS was initially not in favour, the amendment was cleared late Friday evening by the CCPA and is all set to be adopted by the Cabinet early next week. In return, the SAD has promised a smooth sailing for the BJP’s candidate in the Rajya Sabha polls.
Sidhu for Rajya Sabha?
It is no secret that the AAP has been wooing the sulking BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu to join the party and perhaps even be projected as its CM face in Punjab. He would certainly be the star campaigner and its most high profile local face. But if the BJP offers him a Rajya Sabha seat, Sidhu may opt to stay back. The BJP leadership, however, is in two minds about offering Sidhu this seat. Sources say that party president Amit Shah would prefer to continue with the current incumbent, party vice president Avinash Rai Khanna rather than give in to the blackmail of a sulking leader. The affable Khanna is also preferred by the Akalis over Sidhu, who has been critical of the SAD government in the state.
Kishor’s Biggest Challenge
Election strategist Prashant Kishor has finally been signed on by the Congress to handle the party’s affairs in Punjab and later in Uttar Pradesh. While Captain Amarinder Singh has welcomed Kishor, UP Congressmen gave him a wary welcome at a meeting at the party’s Gurudwara Rakabganj office. For it is known that Kishor likes a free hand in deciding election strategies. Unfortunately, the party has many political pundits, who will be unemployed if they relinquish this task to Kishor. Hence the roadblocks. So before he tries to win UP for Congress, Kishor, first, will have to win over the Congressmen from UP.