There has been much speculation as to why Mehbooba Mufti sacked her Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu. One version is that it was his speech at the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry that got him into trouble. Former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah hinted as much when he tweeted that Drabu’s speech at the PDDCI “cost him dearly”. Speaking at the event in New Delhi, Drabu had said that, “Don’t see J&K as a conflict state and a political issue, it is a society which has social issues right now. We are trying to find our own space and we are going through a process which many other countries are also going through.” Immediately, he was asked by his bosses in the PDP to issue a clarification and state that the conflict in the state was a “political issue”. Another view is that Mehbooba was sending a message to her ally BJP, since Drabu was one of the key architects of this alliance. However, the valley is abuzz with rumours about a celebratory dinner hosted for the new Finance Minister, Altaf Bukhari by a certain influential building contractor. Wonder if there’s any connection!


It was Sonia Gandhi who first signalled that Rahul’s new team would comprise younger, Gen Next leaders when she was speaking at a recent conclave. Even earlier, when she attended the Steering Committee formed by Rahul Gandhi to replace the Congress Working Committee, she had remarked in surprise that it looked very much like the old CWC. She was then told that this was a temporary set-up to organise the plenary. However, now that it is more or less certain that Rahul will not opt for elections, but will get to nominate his own CWC, the buzz in the party is that a slew of younger faces will get a foot in the door. However, from Sonia Gandhi’s team expect Ahmed Patel, Ashok Gehlot and Janardan Dwivedi to continue playing an influential role.


UP Pradesh Congress chief Raj Babbar spent last week denying rumours that he had been asked to resign, but this has not scotched the buzz at the party office. The SP is not too fond of its former leader, who defected to the Congress and is known to have a good rapport with Akhilesh Yadav’s bête-noir Amar Singh. According to the SP, when they approached Raj Babbar to support the SP candidate in the Phulpur and Gorakhpur bypolls, he demanded that the SP field a candidate in Gorakhpur and support the Congress candidate from Phulpur. This did not go down well with the SP. More importantly, there is a feedback that with Yogi at the helm pandering to the Thakur lobby, the Brahmins in UP are feeling neglected. Hence, it would make sense for the Congress to appeal to its old vote bank and prop up a Brahmin from UP. Is it Sheila Dikshit to the rescue once again or will younger faces like Jitin Prasada get a chance?


Speaking at the NewsX-Sunday Guardian Roundtable debating “Modi vs Whom”—who the Third Front’s candidate to take on Prime Minister Modi will be—Sambit Patra, the BJP spokesperson, quipped, “At least tell us who will be your leadership face? Tell us who will be your Modi—or at least who will be your Deve Gowda?” Touché.

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