Much is being speculated about the equation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad after the former’s emotional farewell address to the latter. In particular political leaders are wondering what the PM meant when he said that his doors would always be open for Azad’s wisdom and experience. This has led to speculation as to whether the PM may be considering Azad for some non partisan, constitutional post—such as the next Vice President perhaps? (Venkaiah Naidu’s term as the current vice president ends in 2022). The PM also added that as an Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad did not just worry about his party but also took into account the larger non partisan concerns of the House and the country. If that is indeed the plan then the Congress would have a tough time opposing Azad’s candidature, but would have to support it, just as it did with Pranab Mukherjee. Interestingly, a few days before he retired Azad was criticised by his party leadership for allowing debate in the Upper House and not stalling the House as the Congress was doing in the Lok Sabha. His defence of course was that the Opposition has more impact countering the government with debate than it does by a simple walkout, but clearly that did not fit in with the party leadership’s strategy. And now the Congress has a “loyalist” in place with Mallikarjun Kharge, who will ensure that the Rajya Sabha strategy works in tandem with the Lok Sabha floor plans.
The curious ouster of Kiran Bedi
Much is being made about Puducherry Governor Kiran Bedi’s ouster and that too on the eve of a state election. Was she sacked, is the BJP upset with her, should we expect a tell-all press conference soon? Contrary to speculation, BJP sources claim that Bedi has not upset the party leadership with her frequent run-ins with the Congress-led state government, but the reason she was removed is that the BJP did not want to give the Congress the pretext of victimhood to take to the people. Otherwise, the Congress was going to use the frequent run-ins with the Governor as a campaign issue. Now that has been removed. But the question still remains: will Bedi be given another gubernatorial posting any time soon? That will explain whether her removal was a sacking or a strategic move.
Gained in Translation
A video clip of Rahul Gandhi’s recent trip to Puducherry has gone viral which shows the Congress leader interacting with some local residents. The clip shows an angry woman gesticulating to Rahul in Malayalam. According to the clip, the lady in the green sari was complaining that the “coastal belt is always neglected. Did the guy next to you even visit once after the cyclone devastated the place?” However when asked to translate, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy tells Rahul that she was telling them that “during the cyclone I came and visited the area and gave relief materials to them”. The state BJP is busy distributing this clip all over social media as an example of how Rahul is being misled by his people. However, Rahul’s meetings with the students and locals in the South, especially in Tamil Nadu (which will also go to the polls) have got him some positive feedback as the locals are not used to such “spontaneous” interaction with either the AIADMK or DMK leadership. Whether that translates into votes of course is another matter altogether.