A high profile book launch
Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi’s book launch was a high profile event with both Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and former PM Dr Manmohan Singh being present. The book is essentially a collection of his writings on judiciary, governance, society and even terrorism. The launch was followed by a lively panel discussion between Singhvi, P. Chidambaram, Dinesh Trivedi, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kanimozhi, moderated by Barkha Dutt. When asked to comment on President Pranab Mukherjee’s impending visit to the RSS HQ, Chidambaram pointed out that since the invite has been accepted, his advice would be to go there and tell them what is wrong with their ideology. Interestingly, Prakash Javadekar, who was supposed to be present during the panel discussion, did a no-show. When the panel discussed secularism, Scindia quipped had Javadekar been present, then it would truly have been a secular panel.
Dr Singhvi is fast taking the lead in the Congress party’s legal strategy—especially after the impeachment fiasco against which Singhvi had made his stand clear to the party president by sending Rahul Gandhi a note as to why this move was ill-advised. His well thought out interventions take the usual TV debates to a level above the shouting brigade. He also made some telling points about the judiciary at the book launch when he pointed out that while the ideal number of judges in a country should be 50 for every million people, most countries make do with 30-40 judges per million, but in India the figure is as low as 14 judges. He then added with a wry smile, “I blame the judiciary largely (for this), but in the last 3-4 years, I also blame the executive! Clearly, he was hinting at the Modi government that’s been in power for the last four years.”
To those criticising the delay in government formation in Karnataka, Congress leader Chidambaram cited the example of Belgium which did not have a government for nine months! This was an argument that many Congress spokespersons grasped and took to the TV studios to counter the BJP attack.
Say it with an SMS
The man of the match in the recent bypolls is certainly RLD vice president Jayant Chaudhary who undertook the responsibility for the Kairana win. He first reached out to SP leader Akhilesh Yadav with an SMS, after which the two met and decided to combine forces by fielding Tabassum Hasan, an SP candidate on an RLD ticket. Initially, the plan was to undertake this exercise in the Noorpur Assembly seat, which also went to the polls, but the duo wisely decided that it was better to switch this strategy to Kairana. It was Jayant who bore the brunt of the campaign, reaching out to the farmers and party cadres in the area, even taking on CM Yogi Adityanath (who held two rallies there). For Chaudhary, Ajit Singh’s son, this was a coming of age battle and Akhilesh was the first to acknowledge his role when he addressed the media after the win. Can the duo replicate the Kairana model in the entire state? Mayawati has already hinted that she wants the last word on ticket distribution. Oh well, there lies another battle!