Lobbying begins for next President

With the elections of India’s President and Vice President scheduled soon after the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, search has started for the successors of Pranab Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari. The RSS wants someone with Sangh leanings, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi is said to be open to someone not just outside of the RSS, but also the BJP. Among the names making the rounds are that of Amitabh Bachchan and believe it or not, Mulayam Singh Yadav. If Mulayam’s name comes up then he will be a unanimous choice, as the Opposition cannot possibly oppose him. Politically, this will ensure that the BJP inherits Mulayam’s Yadav constituency in Uttar Pradesh. However, apparently, the PM is not even averse to giving a second term to Pranab Mukherjee. But that will happen only in case he fails to evolve a consensus within the BJP and the RSS on his chosen person. From within the BJP, the names of Venkaiah Naidu and Sushma Swaraj are also doing the rounds. Others want either Murli Manohar Joshi or Kalraj Mishra to be President or Vice President. Even Najma Heptullah is a serious contender for either post.

Chandigarh worries Congress

Panic has gripped the Congress in the wake of its defeat in the Chandigarh municipal elections. The Congress leadership has held an unofficial  working committee meeting to review the results. Pawan Kumar Bansal is being blamed for the defeat in the Chandigarh elections. Allegations are that he played politics and did not give tickets to the right candidates. It is being said that Bansal is miffed with the resurrection of his rivals  and did not work wholeheartedly.

It is being said that Bansal is miffed with the resurrection of his rivals and did not work wholeheartedly.

A new Law Minister?

Subramanian Swamy has been assigned the task of improving relations between the judiciary and the government. If he succeeds, his admirers believe he will be rewarded with the law ministry. Guess who is said to be helping Swamy in this—the former Gandhi family loyalist Hansraj Bhardwaj, who was himself Law Minister in the UPA government. Bhardwaj is Swamy’s friend and the latter has sought his help as Bhardwaj enjoys great respect within the legal profession. Reliable sources also say that the Prime Minister’s Office is unhappy with the functioning of some law officers and has found replacements. It is only a matter of time before new names are announced.

Ananth Kumar forgets Advani

L.K. Advani’s waning influence in the BJP has generated considerable speculation, especially because almost every leader owes something or the other to him. Take for instance Ananth Kumar, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister. Kumar was known as Adavani’s protégé until recently. Kumar first met Advani in 1977 when he led a delegation of 15 members of Vidyarthi Parishad to him as their election tickets were not confirmed, forcing Kumar to seek Advani’s intervention. Advani was the I&B Minister at the time. Kamla Advani made Kumar feel welcome with her hospitality. She offered him buttermilk and then phoned her husband, who came all the way from the ministry just to sign the recommendation letter to help Kumar secure the tickets for his delegation. When Kumar was facing heat from within the party over certain charges, it was again Advani who came to his rescue. But Kumar seems to have forgotten all those good deeds.

Effort on for SP, RLD, Congress, JDU alliance

An Opposition alliance seems to be taking formal shape. On Friday, Vice President Hamid Ansari released a book on the Jat leader Charan Singh at the residence of JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, in the presence of Congress leaders Ahmad Patel and Ghulam Nabi Azad, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, JD(S) president H.D. Deve Gowda and RLD chief Ajit Singh. Even Amar Singh was there, although it is not known whether he was representing the Samawadi Party or himself. On Wednesday, a joint rally was organised at Charan Singh’s home ground Bagpat by Ajit Singh and JDU leaders. It was attended by almost everyone including Pawar and Gowda, except for the Congress and SP. It was basically a show of strength for Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is dithering on allying with either the RLD or the Congress ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections. The presence of Azad and Patel on the dais at the book release function is being seen as the sign of a rethink within the Congress leadership over their refusal to strike alliances. If Mulayam does not agree on an alliance, the Congress may join hands with RLD and the JD(U).

Bedi as Delhi LG?

The buzz is that Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, who was a UPA appointee, was asked to resign on the promise that he would be made the Vice President of India. There are chances that Kiran Bedi may be brought in to replace Jung, in a bid to avenge the Bedi-led BJP’s defeat to Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP in the 2015 Delhi elections. The other names in contention are that of ex bureaucrat Anil Baijal and ex Delhi police commissioner, B.S. Bassi.

 

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