Tidings of Trouble 

Former I&B Minister Manish Tewari’s book launch had an interesting panel with Arvind Kejriwal and BJP’s latest rebel Yashwant Sinha sharing the dais with the Congress leader. And naturally the hot topic of the day was the economy, with Sinha taking off where he left off from his column. Tongue firmly in cheek, he commented, “Book release functions of late have become dangerous events.” He was, of course, referring to another book release where Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was the chief guest and had taken pot shots at Sinha, calling him an 80-year-old applicant for the FM’s job. Now it was Sinha’s turn to hit back. He asked the audience if anyone recalled who the third brother of the Kauravas was (reference to the Mahabharata). And then added, “no one remembers the third. They only remember the two.” And let the audience make what they could of that comment. When Arvind Kejriwal was asked by the moderator Barkha Dutt why he had been silent for so long, especially after the Punjab polls, he smiled and said: “There’s no need for me to speak, ab janata bol rahi hai (the public is venting).” Clearly, Manish Tewari’s book could not have been more aptly named—a collection of his columns, it’s called Tidings of Troubled Times. Interestingly, when asked what he had learnt in the last three years, being out of power, Manish quipped, “The biggest learning has been that one can have a life outside politics.” Touché.

Contesting Times

Rahul Gandhi is set to finally take over as party president by end October. According to Congress sources, the notification for an “election” should be out soon, in case anyone else wants to contest for the post. In fact, some say that privately, the leadership is divided as to whether they would like a contest or not. On the one hand, an “appearance” of a contest would give them a plank to claim “internal democracy”. But the catch is that one can never be sure of the mood within the party, for Rahul Gandhi doesn’t command the same amount of warmth as his mother. So perhaps it’s best not to stir still waters.

Changing the narrative

Sources within the BJP claim that the party leadership was not too happy with the timing of Honeypreet’s surrender/arrest. It coincided with party president Amit Shah’s visit to Kerala and while he would have preferred the focus on the issues he raised there, the morning news cycle went to various interviews Honeypreet gave to sundry channels and speculations about her arrest. It was only late afternoon when Shah began to give interviews to the media that the focus shifted back on him. And Kerala became the focus of prime time debates. Well, the BJP certainly knows how to claim a news cycle, despite a hiccup called Honeypreet.

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