The Raipur-Delhi Connection
A little known fact about Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel is his wry sense of humour. Speaking at the launch of Rasheed Kidwai’s book on India’s Prime Ministers, titled, Bharat ke Pradhanmantri: Desh, Dasha, Disha, at Raipur, the CM recalled how when former PM Chandrasekhar issued a statement, it did not need to be proof read or fact checked, but, he added that there are also some PMs who make you reach out for the history books and the fact checker. In full political throttle he also lamented that the BJP was forgetting the role of former Prime Ministers in nation building. Having been entrusted with the crucial portfolio of Uttar Pradesh election management, Baghel is fast becoming a favourite with the party’s high command in Delhi and has successfully quelled all rumours of a regime change in his state. A small aside, he is also a stickler for commitments: having given word to attend the event organised by the Prabha Khaitan Foundation in Raipur he realised that it clashed with another commitment as the President of India decided to honour Chhattisgarh with the Swachh Survekshan award for being the cleanest state. However, he managed to juggle both with some very fine footwork (or is it air-miles?) dashing between Delhi and Raipur. But guess that’s now become the story of his life.
The Disruptor is certainly an apt title for a book on V.P. Singh. Written by senior journalist Debashish Mukerji, the book very neatly captures a tumultuous period in Indian history for it is Singh who implemented the Mandal Commission report that took our caste politics to the level where it is still at today. It’s interesting to see the Modi-Yogi duo implementing the same brand of Mandal-Kamandal politics that we saw back in the 80s. Debashish’s book is well researched and has some very telling anecdotes, especially of the face-off between V.P. Singh and Rajiv Gandhi (as well as Amitabh Bachchan). He traces some of the bitterness to V.P. Singh’s raid-raj as Finance Minister, especially when he took on the formidable might of Dhirubhai Ambani when he used Fairfax to nail Reliance. The book throws light on the cast of characters that dominated our political theatre, both on stage and behind the scenes, like S. Gurumurthy. It’s a must read both for students of political history as well as analysts.
The Apt Rejoinder
Shashi Tharoor’s picture with six women MPs that went viral on social media has now become a cautionary tale for his fellow MPs. Tharoor had posted a picture taken with Supriya Sule, Preneet Kaur and others on Twitter with the caption stating that who said that Parliament isn’t an attractive place to work. This went viral with some self righteous trolls on social media accusing him of being sexist (Are we collectively losing our sense of humour?). Tharoor apologised and posted another picture of himself with some male MPs commenting (quite correctly) that this one won’t go viral but “I am an equal opportunity offender!” However, now whenever a politician is clicked with a group of women the picture comes with a statutory warning. As was issued by Sachin Pilot when he inaugurated a photo exhibition by travel photographer Nikhat Bhatty in the capital recently and posed for a picture with the artiste’s college friends.