Balance of Pawar, or not quite!
Former Defence/Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has always been, well, a centrist and an old-style politician who makes an art out of nuanced, rounded statements that can be interpreted any which way. His remark that “PM Modi’s (good) intentions can’t be doubted”, in the midst of the Rafale controversy, is therefore quite typical of the man. So is his following comment that asking for the configuration details of the aircraft was silly, and not in the line with confidentiality and security concerns. In the same interview, he also rooted for a JPC, which of course got lost in the dust raised over the first part of his remarks.
What Pawar did not expect was the level of reaction it would draw, leading to the exit of his NCP founder-colleague Tariq Anwar. He, it seems, told Pawar at a closed-door meet that his “constituents have told him not to continue in the NCP.” Anwar has been a bit restive for a while now and his exit has also to do with his problems with Praful Patel. The Rafale issue may just be the immediate trigger.
Resurrection of MMS
The outpouring of wishes and nostalgia on Manmohan Singh’s recent birthday brought about a quiet smile to his face. Looks like he did not have to wait for history to give him better grades! His critics, the comrades, his own party men and the Congress party itself, all went overboard singing belated paeans to his great acumen and humble nature. Former president Pranab Mukherjee referred to him as “my prime minister” and “party colleague for many decades”, in a tweet. The man himself went about the day in his usual low-key style, attending a standing committee meeting and stuff like that. The evening was kept for visitors, and there was a flood. The present state of the economy, an admirer quipped, “is the reason behind MMS’s rather early resurrection”.
A wife’s complaint
It seems the PM received an unusual complaint recently -- a whine from the wife of a junior minister. The PM’s intervention was sought to make the husband fall in line. This was apparently after the minister-husband’s escapades with a third angle got leaked to the wife through another senior minister’s (perhaps intentional) indiscretion.
BSP supremo Mayawati, it seems, is rather cut up with the Congress. She has not only joined hands with renegade Congress leader Ajit Jogi’s party in Chhattisgarh, she will put up candidates in all seats in Madhya Pradesh. The benefit, naturally, would go to the BJP. The buzz is Behenji has been offered the deputy PM’s post in the event of a split verdict in 2019!
Kumar and Kushwaha
Though much speculation has been on about RLSP leader Upendra Kushwaha hopping over to the RJD alliance from the NDA, the man himself is keeping everyone guessing, including Amit Shah. It seems Kushwaha and Nitish Kumar can’t be on the same side because of caste-based complications. Nonetheless, the latter is waiting for the results of the upcoming polls to three state Assemblies to take a final call. Nitish, meanwhile, came to Delhi and stayed in his official residence instead of Bihar Bhawan to aviod the media glare. A quiet word with LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan’s side is what that facilitated. A Nitish-Paswan family patch-up happened, but the BJP end of negotiations collapsed. The latter wants Paswan to give away three constituencies from which he has sitting MPs. Obviously, this is not the last one would hear on the Bihar alliances.
The author is Political Editor, TNIE.