RISING ABOVE CASTE?
There is no denying that the elevation of Vijay Rupani as Gujarat Chief Minister, trumping Nitin Patel, had more to do with the Amit Shah vs Anandiben battle than it had with caste politics. It is said that when Anandiben resigned she was promised a “Patel” successor, which is why Nitin Patel began giving interviews even before the formal announcement. It is also said that it was Shah’s last minute intervention, with the blessings of the PM, that ensured Rupani got the top job instead. But in all this, a distinct pattern is emerging that is getting lost in the selection drama. Is the BJP actively avoiding caste equations in the selection of its Chief Ministers by not appointing CMs from the dominant community in states? Take a look. The party now has a non-Patel CM in Gujarat, a non-Ahom CM in Assam, a non-Jat CM in Haryana and a non-Maratha CM in Maharashtra. All these appointments were made after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister. (An interesting aside to all this would be that Modi himself took over from a Patel—Keshubhai Patel—when he became CM of Gujarat.)
Despite the all-party GST support, the government needs to act quickly to pacify its allies. It differs with PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti on Burhan Wani’s killing. The Shiv Sena is miffed after the Maharashtra Cabinet reshuffle. NDA’s Dalit face, Ramdas Athawale raised the issue of rising atrocities against Dalits in BJP-ruled states. To top that, Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu is upset with the government’s stand on the special status issue. So, instead of resting on its GST laurels, the government must go on an appeasement drive.
HUMOUR IN NUMBERS
The Rajya Sabha met in an uncharacteristically benign mood the day when the GST Bill came up for a vote, with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley himself setting the mood. He didn’t look too happy at P. Chidambaram’s comment that the Bill has “some exquisite pieces of clumsy drafting”, but did manage to shake hands with the former FM once the Bill was passed. In fact, the bonhomie was there on all sides. As the votes were being counted and shown on the billboard in Parliament, Sitaram Yechury quipped, “The numbers are going up even before the GST.” Hearing this, Jaitley looked across the aisle, smiled and folded his hands.