THE GESTURE THAT COUNTS
Home Minister Amit Shah had an unusual visitor, when photojournalist Sipra Das went to his house with a rakhi on Raksha Bandhan. She wanted to acknowledge the Home Minister’s help in retrieving her camera when it was stolen by an autorickshaw driver and his cronies. Sipra had taken an auto. The camera was her source of livelihood and she would have been at a loss without it. Sipra filed an FIR in the Lakshmi Nagar police station in Delhi, but it was the Home Minister’s personal intervention that helped in nabbing the crooks and returning her camera back to her. The incident took place in November last year when Sipra was returning from an assignment to her home in Nodia. The autorickshaw driver had two accomplices sitting with him and they persuaded her to put her camera bag at the back of the auto. On the way the auto made a couple of stops and the co-passengers got in and out of the rickshaw. When they dropped her she realised her bag was heavier than usual and on checking, realised they had taken her camera out and replaced it with stones. The 64-year-old Sipra is a familiar face in Parliament and amongst politicians who never refuse her a picture, for the veteran photo-journalist has been covering them for over four decades and even today relies on her still photography. Remembering the man who helped her in her time of need, Sipra reached out to Amit Shah on Rakhi for he had indeed played the role of a brother and protector by helping her.
The churn in Bihar had its lighter side. On the day the government changed in Bihar and Nitish Kumar walked out of the NDA, BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain lost his post as the state’s industry minister. However his statement has gone viral on social media when he commented that on the day the alliance broke where he had commented wryly that “I took the flight from Delhi as the industries minister of Bihar but on landing, I found out that I was no longer a minister. The government had changed overnight!” It is a telling comment on the frailty of our political alliances.
THE BROTHERS BIHARI
It is again time to pick up veteran journalist and author Sankarshan Thakur’s book on Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav, “The Brothers Bihari” where he chronicles the lives and times of the two leaders. The book is a delightful, and insightful, read about the two men and their politics and Sankarshan does not hold back any punches, writing a riveting account of both leaders. However, he made an interesting observation recently when he was speaking at “Talk Journalism” (an annual conclave organised by former journalist Avinash Kalla, where he brings together journalists, politicians and other thought leaders on one platform for some candid conversations). This year, the Talk Journalism conclave was held in Jaipur. Speaking at the event on a discussion on political biographies along with Uday Mahurkar and Rasheed Kidwai on the dais, Thakur recalled that though he had been critical of both Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav in his book, the latter bore no grudges and met him as warmly as earlier but the former took his comments very personally. And that in itself is a significant pointer on the two men—for the true politician is one who can separate the wheat from the chaff and differentiate the political from the personal.
WHY DID NITISH KUMAR QUIT THE NDA ALLIANCE?
All the angst about the caste census and the defection of R.C.P. Singh to the BJP notwithstanding, those who know the current Bihar CM and the former NDA alliance partner, state that the reason Nitish Kumar parted ways with the BJP had nothing to do with state politics but everything to do with his personal ambitions. According to BJP leaders, Kumar was keen to shift to the Centre and was hopeful of emerging as the NDA’s candidate for the post of President or failing that, the Vice President. When that did not happen, he upped the ante and reached out to both the Gandhis and the RJD. Nitish has denied this but it is clear that his ambitions have been raised to the national level, even though for now he is back on the CM’s chair. But if you hear his initial comments, it is not so much the state that he talks about but the nation as he speaks about how he will try and bring all the opposition parties together. Then is he hoping to become the opposition’s Prime Ministerial face against Modi? Certainly that slot is vacant.