Congress divided in Maharashtra
Rahul Gandhi seems oblivious of the fact that another state is slipping out of his party’s hands. The Congress still has some base in Maharashtra, but if the Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Ashok Chavan, is not controlled, the party will split there. Congress Working Committee member Vilas Muttemwar, who was in Delhi, failed to grab even a minute of Rahul Gandhi’s time for over five days to bring to his notice Chavan’s doings. Resentment is high against Chavan, who gave a builder from Telangana, Venkatesh Bal Bariah the ticket to fight the mayor’s election in Balharshah. Mayoral elections are being held in 11 districts in Vidarbha. Reports are that Chavan did not give a single ticket to any member of the minority community. This came up for discussion in Congress’ parliamentary board, which sent Kripa Shankar Singh as the observer to select a Muslim candidate for the election. Kripa Shankar named a Muslim man, but Chavan did not budge and instead gave the ticket to the rich builder. Congress leaders in Maharashtra think that Chavan is pushing the Muslims to Asaduddin Owaisi’s MIM.
Parrikar is a rising star
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is one of BJP’s star campaigners. He is being shown off in every election meeting by Amit Shah as the man behind the surgical strike against Pakistan. Shah has been telling the audience that it was Parrikar who lifted the morale of the country. Parrikar has found a place on the dais between the Prime Minister and the party president. In fact, at the Diwali function organised at the BJP headquarters on Ashoka Road, Parrikar got a seat next to the PM, Shah and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
Trump has major Indian connections
Donald Trump’s victory has a major Indian flavour. The NRI community came out in his support in large numbers primarily because he was perceived to be against Pakistan. Now they are waiting to see if he maintains that stance even after becoming President. Trump has big business interests in India, so it is being said that he will adopt a soft approach towards India. The rumour is that the daughter of a politician from a western state is a partner in one of Trump’s Indian businesses. Even a former Congress Chief Minister of Maharashtra is said to have stakes in Trump’s business in India.
UP may have post poll alliance
Uttar Pradesh will not see any pre poll grand alliance, but most likely a post poll alliance. Mulayam Singh Yadav did not want a pre poll alliance with Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Janata Dal as he was apprehensive of losing the Samajwadi Party’s Muslim votes. The RLD has a Jat support base and in 2014, western Uttar Pradesh had witnessed Jat Muslim riots. The SP chief wanted the RLD to merge with his party, but Ajit Singh was not ready for that.
Kishor not in good terms with Nitish
Prashant Kishor, who managed Nitish Kumar’s Assembly election campaign, is said to have fallen out with the Bihar Chief Minister, apparently over money matters. “Kishor works only for money,” said an agitated JD(U) leader. Kishor is also being blamed for messing up the alliance issue in Uttar Pradesh. He tried in vain for an alliance between Congress and SP, without realising that traditionally the socialists have been opposed to the Congress, and that Mulayam Singh Yadav would not give the Congress a share in his Muslim votes. The Congress too wanted a minimum of 100 seats, which Mulayam was not ready to part with. Also, it was only Kishor who was negotiating with Mulayam, and not any senior Congress leader, which the SP boss took as an insult.
Radia is back
Corporate lobbyist Nira Radia of the Radia tapes fame is back in action after remaining in wilderness for the last several years. When a fight broke out between Tata Sons and Cyrus Mistry this week, many journalists close to Radia were surprised to get a call from her. And even before Mistry realised what was happening, reports started getting published in favour of Tata Sons. With Ratan Tata’s return, Radia’s stock will go up again.