Cross-Party Political Goodwill
To commemorate the life of late Chaudhary Ajit Singh, his son Jayant organised a get together in the capital on the occasion of his first death anniversary. A short biopic on the late leader’s life and achievements was screened to a packed auditorium in the capital. Politicians cutting across party lines joined Jayant and his wife Charu at the venue. These include Anurag Thakur, Governor Satyapal Malik, Bhupendra Hooda, Ram Gopal Yadav, Sitaram Yechury, Jai Panda, Deependra Hooda, Rajeev Shukla, Neeraj Shekhar, Yogendra Yadav, K.C. Tyagi and Sudheendra Kulkarni. Representatives of almost all parties dominant in Western UP and Haryana came together, which also in a way earmarks the late Ajit Singh and his son Jayant’s political sphere of influence.
Himanta Biswa Sarma needs a Himanta
Himanta Biswa Sarma (also known as HBS), the Assam Chief Minister, recently completed one year in office where he laid out the governance and delivery roadmap for the state. His main focus is digitization and taking services to the people. The CM is known to be a hands-on leader, keeping his officials on their toes by making surprise visits at government offices, construction sites and hospitals. He is grooming a young team to assist him, but admits that until the team is ready, it’s a gruelling schedule for him to do it on his own. Guess the one advantage two of his predecessors had was that they had Himanta to do the heavy lifting for them. (If you recall during both Tarun Gogoi and Sarbananda Sonowal’s Chief Minister-ships it was HBS who did all the heavy lifting). Well, now that he is himself in the CM’s chair, and given his very ambitious plans for the state, he will not need one HBS but a team of Himantas to help him.
From Dada to Mama
Before he became Chief Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma was popularly known as Himanta Da (elder brother) by the people in the state. However, post CM-ship his stature has got an upgrade and he is known as Himanta Mama (An uncle related from the mother’s side). His officials are used to his impromptu stops whenever he sees a situation that needs his personal touch. Recently a video went viral on social media showing the CM on his knees, holding the hands of a 90-year-old woman from Dergaon who had travelled to Kaziranga hoping to meet the CM on his visit there. Upon seeing her waiting for him the CM immediately knelt before her and listened to her petition, promising action. There is no denying his goodwill on ground, and one wonders if this is due to the fact that Himanta had been handling the health and education portfolios in earlier state governments. This helped him not only to lay an effective foundation in these two crucial sectors but also gave him an opportunity to interact directly with the people and earn goodwill at the grassroots. So, there’s a lesson here for politicians who hanker after hefty home and finance portfolios—the place where you can make a tangible difference and connect is education and health.
The Eid Milan hosted by Jamiat e Ulema (Hind ) Maulana Mahmood Madani last week was a big draw—from Hamid Ansari to Dr Murli Manohar Joshi to Janardan Dwivedi. The event also had diplomats, journalists and Muslim intelligentsia attending in full strength. But the biggest draw was Prashant Kishor, seen hugging, getting photographed and breaking bread at the Eid Milan. Everyone had a question regarding his future plans and what went wrong between him and the Gandhis. Kishor smiled without losing sight of the paneer, palak and cholas he was having, sticking to a vegetarian diet despite a scrumptious choice of meats, kebabs and biryani.