Hot potato on his plate

Jitin Prasada seems to have his hands full with his new appointment as the in-charge for West Bengal, especially with polls due in 2021. It’s not just the mercurial Mamata Banerjee he will have to deal with, especially given the Congress’ on-again-off-again equation with her; he will also have to ensure that the newly appointment state PCC, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury keeps his ire focused on the BJP without sending too many stray bullets in Mamata’s way. For whether they have an alliance or not, a Congress vs TMC fight will only serve a self goal to the Opposition and strengthen the BJP’s chances. Can the Opposition pull off a Maharashtra type gathbandan in West Bengal and unite the Left-TMC-Congress against the BJP, the way it got Shiv Sena on board with NCP-Congress? Not very likely, for too long the state fight has been between the Left and Mamata Banerjee for them to patch up now. However, Prasada, who is just recovering from a bout of dengue, certainly has his work cut out for him to save the West Bengal unit from scoring a massive self goal for the party.

What next for Dr Kafeel?

Will the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan appoint Dr Kafeel Khan as an assistant professor either in Jaipur or the Ajmer Government Medical College? According to party sources a request has been made by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the Congress general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh. However, the Rajasthan government is a bit wary of appointing a state outsider to the post. But the request has come from the highest quarter. In fact, soon after the Allahabad High Court scrapped the NSA case against the Doctor and freed him from imprisonment, Dr Kafeel called on Priyanka Gandhi Vadra where he was assured of her help and support. To recall, he had been arrested for inciting violence during the anti CAA protests and spent seven months behind bars. Will Rajasthan give him sanctuary?

Bihar Polls

Will Tejashwi Yadav be able to wrest Bihar away from Nitish Kumar? First he has to get his own allies to repose faith in him before convincing the rest of the state. The RJD may have got a catchy slogan in place: Tez raftaar, Tejashwi Ki Sarkar (Bringing in the Tejashwi government at a fast speed), but it now has to deliver on ground. Incidentally the slogan caters to both of Lalu Yadav’s sons: Tej Pratap and Tejashwi Yadav. However, the RJD has seen some defections to the JDU from its own ranks along with a former ally Jitan Ram Manjhi crossing over. There is a feeling that the RJD did not do enough to nail the JDU for its handling of the migrant crisis and has not emerged as a viable alternative. And so just as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fault lines go unchecked because of a lack of an alternative, it seems that Nitish may have the same advantage in Bihar as well. The BJP IT cell has already begun playing up this narrative, referring to Tejashwi as the “Rahul Gandhi of Bihar”. So either Rahul has to get his act together at “tez raftaar”, or Tejashwi has to reinvent himself.

Just roll with it

The never boring, always candid ex BJD MP, Tathagata Satpathy has his hands full these days. His break from Parliament seems to have come at the right time, for he is now busy being a hands on dad, as last fortnight he was blessed with a daughter and is only too happy to help his recuperating wife with the difficult night shift. However, Tathagata was seen on NewsX Roundtable on a debate on decriminalising the use of cannabis. If you recall, way back in 2015 he had created a stir on social media when he confessed to smoking pot as a young college student and even then had made the argument that since marijuana was less addictive and less harmful than tobacco or alcohol why was the government losing on taxable revenue by making it illegal. As he says, banning cannabis is an elitist concept. It’s okay to be seen with a glass of wine but the minute you start rolling a joint you are labelled a charsi. Moreover, he adds India banned it under pressure from the US but now most states in the United States have legalised cannabis for medicinal and recreational use. Well the debate on cannabis is one of the spin-offs of the Sushant Singh Rajput case and certainly one needs to take a relook at some of our archaic laws and tailor them to suit the Indian lifestyle.