Much heartfelt (Hardik) affection (Mamata) flowed when the two met in Kolkata. The West Bengal CM was obviously quite smitten by the lavish praise the underage Patidar leader bestowed on her, calling her the new-age Indira Gandhi. (There’s of course more than one claimant to that ‘Iron’ legacy, overt and covert, the Emergency taint notwithstanding!) Anyway, Hardik has promised to campaign for her in 2019, with the catch that she should be part of a larger coalition to take on the current Delhi Durbar, and yes, he would surely take her advice if/when he decides to join electoral politics, after coming of age. Meantime, Hardik was happy polishing off the rather tasty bhetki fry and egg roll with a hot cuppa’ tea, served to him while he took an overview of the City of Joy, full of concrete and abstract emotions!
As the BJP parliamentary party meeting warmed up, Amit Shah had just lit into Rahul G for ‘misleading’ the nation on Rafale. Only to be interrupted by the PM, who butted in to tell his MPs to go to their constituencies with lunch-box in hand, sit among the people and talk about the regime’s accomplishments. Modi had himself run the pilot scheme in Varanasi, creating some tiffin bonhomie. So the ‘chai pe charcha’ of 2014 is expected to be replaced by lunch-talk in 2019. Or will it be in 2018?
As the cold war between the government and the Supreme Court collegium over appointments in the higher judiciary goes on unabated, there seems to be little hope of the issue of Justices K.M. Joseph and Indu Malhotra’s elevation to the SC getting resolved anytime soon. Both sides are plotting hard to checkmate the other. The only way the collegium’s recommendation would get the executive’s nod (and the President’s stamp) is by segregating the two cases.
While most believe the government is wary of bringing Justice Joseph to the apex court due to the adverse verdict he gave on the imposition of President’s rule in Uttarakhand, a senior minister claims his merit is not under question, only his seniority—that Justice Joseph ranks 45th in the seniority list of all high court judges. In effect, that he should wait for his turn while Indu Malhotra—the first woman advocate recommended for direct elevation as an SC judge—can be cleared. Her merit, again, is what is being cited, not her close relations to the top brass of the present and previous regime.
Renuka and Ramayan
As for Congress MPs, they were at the receiving end of their new party chief’s ire for not defending Renuka Chowdhury on the spot—right when the PM cracked a joke in the Upper House, implying that her laughter was reminiscent of a demoness in the Ramayan serial. The chastised MPs (Chowdhury included) grumbled that few in their ranks had caught the slant of the PM’s remarks. “We’ve not seen that Ramanand Sagar serial,’’ one of them admitted. “Typical Congress elitism!” quipped a Cabinet minister. Kiren Rijiju (who had an over-the-top FB post) demonstrated enough TV literacy too.
The first democratically elected Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed may have initially called for Indian intervention through “physical presence”, but has now retracted his remarks. Why? India virtually told him off for shooting his mouth, and putting New Delhi in a fix. Nasheed—found in between in a rather happy mood at a high-end evening haunt in Colombo (from where he functions)—now looks chastised and says he never asked for “boots on the ground’’.
The author is Political Editor, TNIE.