Sanjay Nirupam may be expelled
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi may soon expel Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam, with infighting intensifying over the anti Nehru-Gandhi articles published in the party mouthpiece Congress Darshan. Nirupam, who was originally with the Shiv Sena, and the Congress leadership at the local level have been trading charges and counter-charges. Nirupam is said to have put the entire blame on Kripa Shankar Singh, a former Mumbai Congress chief, who had to quit his post over corruption charges. While Singh belongs to Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh and “controls” the Congress’ North Indian voters in Mumbai, Nirupam is a Bihari and has “influence” over Bihari voters. Among the strong contenders for the PCC chief’s post is Congress general secretary Gurudas Kamat, a Mumbaikar, who is a former Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief. Now that the party is out of power both at the Centre and in Maharashtra, Kamat wants to go back to Mumbai. Another strong contender is Eknath Gaikwad, who is being backed by Milind Deora who has fallen out of Rahul’s favour.
Poll dynamics may ‘save’ Maran brothers
With Assembly elections due this year in Tamil Nadu, AIADMK supremo Jayalalitha is keeping her cards about alliances close to her chest. The search for allies could mean that the biggest gainers could be the Maran brothers, Dayanidhi and Kalanidhi Maran, who own the Sun TV network in Chennai and who are embroiled in a plethora of court cases including the Aircel-Maxis money laundering case. Dayanidhi Maran appeared before CBI officials twice for a few consecutive days of questioning without the “burden of custody” and came and went almost at his will. Officials say that this type of “royal treatment” cannot be granted without help from people in the ruling disposition. The BJP might need the DMK, the Maran brothers’ party, in case it finds itself fighting against Jayalalithaa in the state elections. Given such a scenario, some say that the Maran brothers are “safe” until the polls are over. However, on Friday, the Enforcement Directorate charged the Maran brothers in the Aircel-Maxis case.
Anwara was first Muslim woman CM
When Mehbooba Mufti takes over as the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister following the death of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, she will be the second Muslim woman in India to be sworn in as CM. Anwara Taimur was India’s first Muslim woman CM. Anwara was made the CM of Assam in the aftermath of the Nellie massacre in central Assam in which uprooted Muslims from erstwhile East Bengal were killed. Taimur stayed in office for only six months, from 6 December 1980 to 30 June 1981. She was removed after Rajiv Gandhi’s Assam accord and the state was put under President’s Rule.
Shatru takes jibe at ‘Margdarshak Mandal’
At the launch of his biography Anything but Khamosh, Shatrughan Sinha took a jibe at the BJP’s “Margdarshak Mandal”, calling it a committee that has never met. The launch was like a meeting of BJP dissenters. L.K. Advani and Yashwant Sinha were on the podium, while Kirti Azad was in the audience. Congress’ Digvijaya Singh and Randeep Surjewala were also present. Amar Singh was also seen there.
O’Brien spreads xmas cheer
On the occasion of Christmas, Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien treated his fellow members of the Rajya Sabha, and also some journalists with Christmas cake and pudding.
Many skip Bardhan’s funeral
Many prominent people did not attend the funeral of A.B. Bardhan, the former CPI general secretary who passed away last Saturday. Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati and Lalu Prasad Yadav did not attend the funeral. The only two leaders from the so-called Third Front who came were JDU’s Sharad Yadav and K.C. Tyagi, while Nitish Kumar called up early in the morning to pay his condolences. Congress president Sonia Gandhi had visited Bardhan in the hospital before she left for Mussoorie on her vacation. Though Sharad Pawar, a personal friend of Bardhan, visited him in the hospital, he did not pay his last tribute. H.D. Deve Gowda, the man who became Prime Minister because the CPI joined his government, was also not there. Not a single TMC MP was spotted there. Mamata Banerjee, who tweeted her condolences, perhaps did not want her MPs to be seen with Left leaders at the CPI HQ ahead of the Assembly elections in West Bengal. DMK leaders too gave the funeral a miss, although AIADMK’s M. Thambidurai and MDMK’s Vaiko turned up. TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu, who was the convener of the United Front coalition, also did not come. Among the others who attended were Vice President Hamid Ansari, apart from CPM’s Sitaram Yechury, Prakash Karat, Brinda Karat and Hannan Mollah. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the first to arrive at Ajoy Bhavan, the CPI headquarters, to pay his tribute, even though it used to be said that he was unhappy with the Left parties for pulling out of the UPA government in 2008. Though BJP’s Arun Jaitley and Ravi Shankar Prasad came, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not turn up or tweet his condolences.
Nitish faces RS challenge
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will face his first litmus test in April when he selects candidates for the Rajya Sabha from among the Grand Alliance. Five Rajya Sabha seats are falling vacant in Bihar in April. Lalu Yadav’s RJD is eligible to get two seats; one of these may go to his wife Rabri Devi. The other is likely to go to his daughter Misa Bharti. However, there is also speculation that Lalu may give one of these seats to a senior party leader to avoid criticism of indulging in dynastic politics. One seat will go to the BJP. That leaves two seats for Nitish Kumar. JDU president Sharad Yadav’s term has come to an end and he is sure to get a re-nomination. JDU spokesperson K.C. Tyagi’s term has also come to an end, but Nitish Kumar is falling short by 21 votes to get the second candidate elected. For that, he needs Congress’ support. Tyagi may have to be sacrificed as the Congress is bargaining for a seat. While there is opposition against Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmad at the local level, the other name doing the rounds is that of Shakeel-uz-Zaman Ansari.