Nitish builds relationships
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had lunch with Abhay Chautala and Dushyant Chautala, uncle and nephew, in New Delhi last month and offered them any help they needed. Dushyant is the grandson of former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala and the son of INLD leader Ajay Chautala. Both his grandfather and father are serving 10-year jail terms, following their conviction in a teachers’ recruitment scam.
The same evening, Nitish dined with Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of B.R. Ambedkar, and suggested that they work together on various Dalit issues. As part of his “friend-making” spree, Nitish has been inviting many politicians to Bihar as “state guests”, including Shiromani Akali Dal’s Naresh Gujral, Uttar Pradesh Cabinet minister Shivpal Singh Yadav and even Sharad Pawar. Nitish is supposedly acting on the advice of his favourite astrologer that he should build relationships to achieve his “national ambitions”, but not make any overt political moves until 2018.
Sheila may be out of the cold soon
Three-time Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who has been sidelined by the Congress, may emerge as the credible Brahmin face that her party is looking for in Uttar Pradesh. The thinking in the Congress is that she be made the AICC general secretary in charge of UP and a Muslim or a Thakur be made the Pradesh Congress Committee chief. The only problem is Dikshit’s age. She is 78 and does not fit into Rahul Gandhi’s plan of having a young leadership. But there is no better Brahmin face than Dikshit for the Congress and she will campaign actively for the party in 2017 and 2019. Sanjay Singh’s—a Thakur—name is doing the rounds for the PCC post.
It’s Sushil Modi vs Radha Mohan Singh
Last week, senior Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and party president Amit Shah, and apparently told them that following the Bihar Assembly poll debacle, none of the ministers from the state in the Union government would be able to hold on to their constituencies in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Sushil Modi also offered himself as a potential minister in the upcoming reshuffle. But this did not go down well with Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, who too belongs to Bihar. He immediately rushed to Patna to confront Sushil Modi on the matter.
Sushil Modi is supposed to have angrily told Singh that it was only on his “request” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Jaitley that he was inducted as a Cabinet minister and giving a ministry was the prerogative of the leadership and not anyone’s birthright.
Congress ticket denial miffs Dalit leader
Raj Bahadur, a senior Dalit leader from Uttar Pradesh, who had joined the Congress after parting ways with Mayawati following the death of his mentor Kanshi Ram, has submitted a report to AICC’s Scheduled Castes cell chairman K. Raju, asking why the Congress did not give tickets to even a single Dalit in the just concluded by-elections in Muzaffarnagar, Deoband and Bikapur. Bahadur had suggested the name of Madho Singh, a former MLA, but to no avail. Bahadur has expressed his dismay particularly over the Bikapur Assembly seat in Faizabad district, where there is a substantial Dalit population. Since Mayawati had not put up a BSP candidate, if a Dalit had been given a ticket, the Congress would have won the seat, he has contended. He added that this helped Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM to “get a foothold” by fielding Pradeep Kori, a Dalit youth leader from the Kori community, for the Bikapur seat. Kori lost, but still managed over 11,000 votes.
Munda’s ‘rehabilitation move’ backfires
Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda, who has been in the wilderness for a while, met a senior journalist supposed to be close to both the Prime Minister and the BJP president, apparently on the advice of a young party MP from Jharkhand. Munda was hoping that the journalist would put in a good word for him. However, Munda was summoned by Amit Shah and given a harsh dressing-down. He was told that this “sort of childishness” would not be tolerated. Munda is supposed to have meekly apologised and left, accusing the young MP of leading him astray.
CPI gets Kanhaiya edge over CPM
The CPI seems to have found a way of coming out of the shadow of “big brother” CPM, thanks to the spotlight on Kanhaiya Kumar, who belongs to its students’ wing, the All India Students’ Federation (AISF). The CPI is also debating whether to adopt the Kanhaiya “line” of hoisting icons such as Jyotiba Phule and B.R. Ambedkar on the same pedestal as Marx.