Murmurs from GenNext Cong
Were some disgruntled GenNext Congress leaders planning to join the Aam Aadmi Party in the run-up to the Delhi Assembly elections? Apparently, some leaders had sent feelers to Arvind Kejriwal, via Prashant Kishor, but the AAP leader was not too keen on their joining for two reasons—the first being that his politics has always been on the same “kaamdar” plank as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, so having dynasts on his platform will cramp his style. Secondly, each GenNext Congress leader comes with a pedigree of entitlement that won’t go down well with the one-man show that Kejriwal likes to run. But there is no denying that Kejriwal is out shopping and his next focus is back to Punjab, a state that has eluded him in the past. He is all too aware of the importance of a home grown state leader, for Punjab did not take too kindly to Kejriwal’s Haryanvi background. Sources say that Navjot Singh Sidhu may be all too keen to renew his acquaintance with Kejriwal. Watch this space—both for what Kejriwal is planning; and also for what the Congress GenNext leaders are planning to pencil onto their CVs.
Rajya Sabha Games
The general consensus is that the recent edition of the Games of Thrones being played in Madhya Pradesh has little to do with destabilising the Kamal Nath government (though if it happens then that’s a bonus for the BJP), but a lot more to do with the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections. Of the three seats coming up from Madhya Pradesh, currently the BJP holds two (Satyanarayan Jatia and Prabhat Jha), while the Congress has one (Digvijaya Singh). However, in the re-election that is due, the maths changes, with Congress getting two and the BJP one. Of the 230 seats in the Assembly, the Congress has 121—113 of its own, plus eight other MLAs supporting it; while the BJP has 107. Each Rajya Sabha candidate needs the support 58 MLAs (first preferential votes). So that gives one seat each to BJP and Congress. The fight is for the third seat, which should go to the Congress, but clearly, as the recent poaching game has shown, the BJP is keen to upset the apple cart.
Will Digvijaya return to Rajya Sabha?
If there is one hero of the recent crisis in Madhya Pradesh it is neither Kamal Nath nor Shivraj Singh Chouhan, but Diggy Raja. Incidentally, most of the eight MLAs who were said to have been “kidnapped” by the BJP (that story has changed somewhat), owe their allegiance to Digvijaya Singh more than Kamal Nath or Jyotiraditya Scindia. The two fire-fighters who flew down to Delhi for damage control were also none other than Digvijaya Singh’s son Jaivardhan and Jeetu Patwari, another Digvijaya loyalist. In fact, the poach-alert—that the BJP was planning to poach Congress MLAs—was also first sounded by none other than Digvijaya Singh. Clearly, this is one Venn diagram that overlaps in and around Diggy’s name, who, coincidentally, is coming up for a Rajya Sabha re-election. So, is he sending a message to his buddy Kamal Nath to play ball, otherwise, without him, the state government may not last? In fact, as things stand, both Scindia and Digvijaya are said to be keen on the two Rajya Sabha seats. Into this conundrum comes the spectre of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s candidature. Nath has been quick to offer a seat to Priyanka, which simply raises the stakes. Recently, there was also a rumour doing the rounds as to whether Lok Sabha losers should get a Rajya Sabha reward—both Scindia and Digvijaya fall into this category. So, all in all, interesting games being played within the Congress. Watch this space as the last date for Rajya Sabha nominations is 13 March.
What is Akhilesh Yadav planning?
Who is behind the sudden entry of Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad into the political arena? We all know who is being hurt the most because he is clearly eating into the BSP’s Dalit base and Mayawati is not too happy, but she is equally clear that she will not tie up with Azad because that would be seen as a tacit admission that she no longer has hegemony over her vote base. Then comes the question, who gets to gain from his entry? According to well placed sources, Azad has the backing of Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, who is keen to woo the Dalit vote bank away from his on-off “Bua” (that’s what he calls the BSP chief). And though Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been wooing Azad, it is expected that he will throw in his lot with the SP rather than the Congress in the run-up to the 2022 UP Assembly polls. Reportedly, Azad has also reached out to 20 disgruntled BSP MLAs who were not given tickets in the 2017 state polls.
BJP pecking order changed?
First Amit Shah’s face was removed from posters at the BJP office and replaced by the newly elected BJP chief J.P. Nadda. Now at the BJP’s parliamentary party meet held at the beginning of this session, speaker after speaker began by first addressing the Prime Minister, then Nadda, the current BJP chief, followed by Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and finally Amit Shah. One could argue, quite correctly, that this is the correct protocol. Others, who look for such signs, can make their own interpretations.
Rajya Sabha for a Hooda?
The Congress in Haryana is keenly watching the one Rajya Sabha seat that is falling vacant for it has three contenders—Kumari Selja (a Sonia Gandhi favourite), Deepender Hooda (whose father is the party’s tallest leader in Haryana) and Randeep Singh Surjewala (party spokesman). Apparently, Surjewala may be accommodated from another state, but if Selja gets the nomination, will the Hoodas take it lying down? If you recall, Bhupender Singh Hooda nearly swung the state for the Congress in the recent elections and given the current discontent against the state’s BJP-led government, is said to be planning another one aided by Dushyant Chauthala’s rebel MLAs. But loyalty comes with a price tag and one wonders if the party High Command has got the message.