Overt and Covert Ties
Mamata Banerjee is sparing no opportunity to have a dig at what she calls ‘opportunistic’ Left-Congress understanding in West Bengal. Trinamool Congress has put up a rather nasty graffiti outside the Alimuddin Street office of CPI(M), Kolkata. But in Kerala, BJP’s O Rajagopal has reasons to worry. A tacit ‘understanding’ of sorts is there as well. If Iddukki MP J George is to be believed, Congress/UDF and CPI-M/LDF will transfer vote on to each other’s candidates, bitter rivalry notwithstanding, wherever a BJP candidate is seen nearing the winning post. It’s an age-old tactic to keep a third formation from gaining ground in Kerala, he noted with a laugh.
The transition from Sonia-Congress to Rahul-Congress does not augur well for the rootless wonders of the party. Rajya Sabha think-tankers ruled the roost under Sonia. The recent Rajya Sabha nominations—A K Antony from Kerala, Anand Sharma from Himachal, Pratap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo from Punjab, Ripun Bora and Ranee Narah from Assam—are being seen as an indications that Rahul will “only” back leaders with state affiliations. And guess who’s appreciating the Congress strategy most? Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Jat-Sikh former PCC chief Bajwa and Dalit leader Dullo’s choice came in for special praise.
Rajya Sabha Blues
Of late, MoS for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi is a bit off colour. “Suffering from tension,” a BJP leader quipped. It’s not so much to do with the hard time the Opposition gives him in the Upper House where he has to hold fort for the treasury, but the possibility of his in-house bête noir Shahnawaz Hussain’s entry from Bihar, which is making him sing the blues. But the toss-up talk is not confined to BJP alone; in RJD too there’s much debate on whether it’s Rabri Devi or Lalu Prasad’s first-born Misa Bharati who will get his blessings with a Rajya Sabha seat.
PM’s Next Trip
By the end of the month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be off to his next round of foreign visits—Brussels for Indo-European Union Summit on March 30, followed by the fourth Nuclear Security Summit in Washington from March 31 to April 1, and his first visit to Riyadh on April 2. Maximum groundwork, however, is going into the final round of the nuclear security talks. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar is just back from Washington. Curiously, former foreign secretary Shyam Sharan too has gone to US.
Naming and Renaming
Two government departments have recently undergone a change of nomenclature. Agriculture Ministry is now Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare. Similarly, Disinvestment too has been renamed Department of Investment and Public Asset Management. Obviously, the message goes beyond the renaming.
CPI leader and MP D Raja’s daughter Aparajitha Raja in focus ever since the JNU row and has found an unexpected supporter. Well-known Bengali writer Mandakranta Sen has written a poem, I Am Aparajitha, dedicated to her.