Stamp of Approval
The Bharatiya Janata Party ended last year by releasing a stamp in honour of Justice Mehr Chand Mahajan. Ignored by the Congress, Justice Mahajan’s place in our history finally got its much deserved felicitation. Justice Mahajan, the third Chief Justice of India, was also the former Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir during the crucial few months of September 1947 to March 1948. It is he who played a key role in persuading Maharaja Hari Singh to accede to India. The stamp was released by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, with Minister of State for Communication Manoj Sinha. Minister of State Jitendra Singh was also present on the dais. Jitendra Singh pointed out that this honour should have happened decades ago, but where the Congress faltered, the BJP stepped in to fill the breach.
A lighter note at the event was when Manoj Sinha, speaking before Jaitley, quipped that he would keep his speech short as before a much loved serial, few have patience for advertisements!
Rahul’s global outreach
Fired by the success of his US trip, Congress president Rahul Gandhi took off to Bahrain this month in the first of a series of global visits. In 2018 itself, visits to other countries in the Middle East, Singapore Canada and Europe are being planned. “These will be with the objective of meeting the Indian community and also building a relation with heads of states, sharing what the Opposition’s view on India is and understanding from different stakeholders, including businesses, as to what they are looking for from India, what are the reforms they are expecting etc,” says a source involved in the planning. Clearly, Rahul’s pitch for Prime Ministership has already begun, albeit on foreign shores.
It is interesting to note that when four Supreme Court judges started a mutiny against the sitting Chief Justice of India, both the Congress and the BJP went into a huddle to figure out their respective reactions. The Congress president summoned the party’s legal brain trust—P. Chidambaram, Salman Khurshid, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari and Vivek Tankha. Interestingly, even the Congress party’s media chief Randeep Surjewala holds a law degree (Abhishek Manu Singhvi was in Mumbai at the time). It looked for a political-legal response. The BJP went in for a more political response with the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah team consulting mainly one lawyer—and a key troubleshooter—Arun Jaitley. In any case, for any crisis this is mainly the main response team for the BJP. The party spokesmen were initially told to lie low, but once their absence became glaringly obvious, they were told to restrict their comments as to whether the judges should have gone public or not.