The midnight march
The response to Rahul Gandhi’s candlelight march for justice to the rape victims of Kathua and Unnao surprised even Congress leaders, given the short notice. The first SMS for the gathering was sent out as late as 9.30 pm, still a nearly 2,000-strong crowd reached India Gate. Nothing compared to the outpouring during the Nirbhaya protests though. And between jostling Youth Congress activists and TV crews, it was a bit nightmarish. Unable to reach the exact venue, Priyanka Gandhi sat on dharna and was heard screaming that the media was obstructing her.
It was worse for former president Pranab Mukherjee’s daughter Sharmistha, who heads the Delhi Mahila Congress unit. She fell and twisted her ankle and is nursing a swelling. One woman journalist later complained she was groped by some hooligans who rushed in to get near the Congress chief. The stand of JKPCC chief Mustaq Ahmed Mir supporting the Jammu protesters and the Jammu Bar Association chief’s old Congress links, you could say, did not help matters. But the fact that the PM broke his silence the next day was seen as the result of the Gandhi family’s midnight march and the media coverage they got.
Krishna back in Congress?
No. The Karnataka Congress and their bosses back in Delhi vehemently deny there’s any truth in the reports that SM Krishna is trying a homecoming. It’s true that Krishna has not made much headway in the BJP set-up dominated by Yeddyurappa, Ananth Kumar et al, but his equation with Siddaramaiah is not too good either. That being one of the reasons, apart from the IT raids on his son-in-law, why he left the GoP in the first place. A local leader chimed in from Bangalore that neither has Krishna formally approached the Congress nor would “we entertain him”.
Behind the babu shuffle
Not so long ago, around 45 IAS officers were shifted out of their ministries. It was apparently due to some ‘serious’ complaints received by the PMO. Not just of non-performance, but a range of things, from seeking ‘benefits’ for their spouses to not clearing ‘Make in India’ projects for a few MNCs. It seems the PM is now convinced the Lutyens’ Delhi bureaucracy is so ‘compromised’ that his pet schemes will not take off on time.
The babus, for instance, have been blamed for pushing the file on the Bullet train from one desk to another, making all kinds of notings inimical to the project. The BJP’s absolute majority in Parliament could be of little persuasive value in front of North and South block shibboleths. But the BJP top brass believes the PM will surely make them pay for their obduracy.
CJI impeachment spiked?
If the buzz is to be believed, Manmohan Singh put a spanner in the Congress plan to back the impeachment motion against CJI Deepak Misra.
The former PM, it seems, intervened with Rahul Gandhi and advised him against such an ‘inappropriate’ move which could destroy the image of a vital organ of the state. He, instead, advised a political fight.
The Opposition, however, has gathered over 50 signatures of MPs from across parties to move the impeachment motion first ideated by CPM’s Sitaram Yechury.
Mehbooba and Yogi
The two CMs’ governments were in the throes of a crisis because of the two horrific rape cases and the subsequent public outrage across the country. While the riot act to UP CM Yogi Adityanath was read out by BJP chief Amit Shah, who went to Lucknow to get first-hand feedback on the situation, with the J&K CM it was the opposite.
Mehbooba Mufti made it known to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in no uncertain terms that the PDP was ready to pull out of the alliance unless the two ministers, Choudhury Lal Singh and Chandra Prakash Ganga, were sacked.
For the BJP, the government in J&K is seen as the crowning glory and the party would not want to lose it at any cost. Known for his political instincts, the PM gave a prompt sack order. The two, however, were allowed to resign as a face-saver to the party.