Congress leaders race for Rajya Sabha seats
The Congress can send at least one candidate each to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Maharashtra. With most of its top leaders having lost the Lok Sabha elections and many retiring from the RS in June or July, there is a scramble for the seats available. P. Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and Vijay Bahuguna have been out of Parliament since 2014, while Jairam Ramesh, Oscar Fernandes and Mohsina Kidwai are retiring in June. Both Ramesh and Fernandes are lobbying for a second term. Hussain Dalwai, who is retiring from Maharashtra, too wants a second term. Former Home Ministers, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Shivraj Patil have joined the queue. Both Shinde and Patil, who were not uttering a word of support to the Congress, or opposing the BJP, ever since the party lost power in 2014, have become active suddenly.
RLD-JDU merger on hold
Nitish Kumar is realising that Ajit Singh of the Rashtriya Lok Dal is not a trustworthy ally. Before any elections in Uttar Pradesh or at the national level, Singh starts bargaining for a plum slot. Ahead of the merger of the RLD into Nitish’s Janata Dal United (JDU), Ajit Singh wanted his son Jayant Chaudhri to be projected as the JDU-Congress alliance’s chief ministerial candidate. Initially, Nitish Kumar, who does not have any stakes in UP, agreed to the proposal. But later got a survey conducted to realise that Jayant’s name did not get the support of even 1% of the respondents. Both Nitish and the Congress got cold feet, putting all merger talks on hold. Ajit Singh is now bargaining with the BJP, which too wants Singh to merge his RLD with the party. But what will Ajit Singh get even if he merges his RLD with the BJP? Not more than a Rajya Sabha seat.
No takers for Pawar’s choices
Sharad Pawar, given his ill-health, has decided to lobby for the post of Vice President of India and retire from the presidentship of the Nationalist Congress Party. However, consultations with senior colleagues from his state have left him with no option but to continue. After speaking to over 60 senior party leaders, he did not find a single taker for his daughter Supriya Sule, “a lightweight”, as the leader of the NCP. Some even had problem with the fact that Supriya is a woman. Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar’s name too was vetoed. In fact, some of these leaders are wondering whether they should return to their parent party, Congress, after Pawar leaves politics.
BJP mulling its UP CM face
Who will be BJP’s chief ministerial face in Uttar Pradesh? After making an unknown Most Backward Class (MBC), Keshav Prasad Maurya as state president, the BJP may go for an upper caste as its CM face. Among the front runners are Varun Gandhi and Kesrinath Tripathi. Varun Gandhi is young and comes from the illustrious Gandhi family. Tripathi is a Brahmin from Allahabad and currently the Governor of West Bengal. But he is past 80 years old. The most important name is, however, of Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who is a Thakur and commands respect among all Rajputs cutting across party lines. But if he is selected, the BJP will announce his name only after Congress reveals its cards.
Shobha ensured Yeddy’s rehabilitation
B.S. Yeddyurappa has given the credit for his political rehabilitation as Karnataka president of the BJP, to his colleague and protégé Shobha Karandlaje. It is being said that a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Karandlaje and Yeddyurappa yielded him the desired result. In the meeting, Karandlaje
said that the BJP should realise that justice had to be done to Yeddyurappa sooner than later or else he would be forced to find his own political option. She stated that even today Yeddyurappa remained the only leader capable of delivering a BJP government south of the Vindhyas. She also said that he expected that a signal should go out that he was the tallest leader from Karnataka.
Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who has been feeling marginalised ever since the
NDA’s defeat in the Bihar Assembly elections, invited journalists for tea at his residence last week. There he told some journalists that those who were taking him for granted should remember that it was his vote share that propelled the BJP to its great victory in Bihar in the Lok Sabha elections. He ended by saying that he has been a Union minister both in Congress-led and Third Front dispensations and that he has maintained his relations with all, and those who think that all doors are closed for him, do not know him well.
Ahmad Patel listened
The father of a journalist in a TV channel was on his deathbed in RML hospital. The journalist sought help from Sharad Yadav, seeking his intervention to get the patient, who had suffered a brain haemorrhage, shifted to the ICU. The family did not have the money to take him to a private hospital. The JDU MP just had to pick up the phone and place a call to help the patient, a fellow Yadav. But he replied that “Achcha dekh lenge (Ok, I will see).” The journalist tried Congress leader Ahmad Patel on the phone and then sent him an SMS. Not only did Patel confirm that he had received the SMS, but after half an hour he sent another message saying he had done the needful and a Dr Vali had already visited the patient. Later, it was Ahmad Patel again who informed the journalist that the patient had expired, thus indicating that he was in touch with the hospital authorities.