AMIT SHAH TO STAY
One of the first items on the BJP agenda early this year is to take a call on party president Amit Shah, whose current term expires after shortly. There was some speculation as to whether he would get a renewal after the Bihar debacle, but according to a top BJP source that speculation was only limited to the media. As far as the BJP leadership is concerned, they are all set to renew Amit Shah for what will technically be his first full term as the BJP chief as he had stepped in to fill Rajnath Singh’s term midway in 2014. There are two reasons behind this move — one is that by making him the fall guy for the Bihar loss would set a dangerous precedent of making party chiefs resign after every poll loss. The other, however, is that the party needs him for Uttar Pradesh. The state will go to the polls in 2017 and there is a unanimous view that after Shah’s work in the Lok Sabha elections, he should be allowed to continue his work there. Well, it does seem as if Shah’s toughest task is yet to come.
LOOKING FOR A FACE
One lesson from Bihar that both the Congress and the BJP are mulling over is the need to cultivate regional faces. The Congress has already zoned onto Captain Amarinder SIngh for Punjab, but it is Uttar Pradesh that seems to be the biggest challenge for both the national parties, especially given the adage that the road to Delhi lies via UP. The Congress thinks that the one person who can deliver the state for them is Priyanka Vadra. But she has so far shown no inclination to enter active politics, and there is no one who can make the First Family of the Congress do something they don’t want to. The BJP too has its own hot potato, for sections of the party would like to see former UP Chief Minister Rajnath Singh leading the charge in the Assembly. But sources point out that neither is Singh keen, nor does he have a great working equation with Amit Shah.
THE OTHER GANDHIS
Both the mother and son duo Varun and Maneka Gandhi have gone low key. The mother is still active when it concerns her ministry’s causes, but the son is maintaining a really low profile. Sources say that Amit Shah is not keen to give him a high profile role in the UP elections, although some others would like Varun to be fielded as a star campaigner.
The year ended in good cheer with a spate of parties in the national capital. A regular yearender is Salman Khurshid’s Christmas lunch, where spicy chat is one the menu’s biggest draws along with hot kebabs. Since this happened a day after the Gandhis’ visit to the court in the National Herald case, there was much relief on the Congress faces. NCP leader Praful Patel too hosted a media lunch for Sharad Pawar’s birthday, where Maharashtrian hospitality was on full display under the warm winter sun, for apart from Patel himself, both Pawar and his daughter Surpiya Sule were present. Arun Jaitley, however, had a quiet birthday lunch end December, after his hectic bout of high profile hospitality during his daughter’s wedding earlier in the month.