The power lunch
A lot was tweeted about the ‘Odisha delicacies’ served at a certain power luncheon in Bhubaneswar, by both the host Naveen Patnaik and his VIP guests. Particularly his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee.
The photo-op of Mamata sitting across the table with Amit Shah created such a buzz in Kolkata and Delhi that it overshadowed the other three, viz. Nitish Kumar and Dharmendra Pradhan, even the gracious host. Never mind if Mamata only partook of ‘raita’ (a curd-based salad), avoiding the sumptuous spread.
That the Bengal CM, who till recently was skipping just about every meeting called by the Centre, had condescended to attend the Eastern Zonal Council chaired by the Home Minister came a surprise.
Many believe it’s part of a strategy of non-confrontation Mamata has adopted ever since Prashant Kishor become her election-cum-political advisor.
This despite the fact that the other invited CM at the table was Nitish, for whom neither Mamata nor her behind-the-scenes genius-on-hire have any love lost.
As for what ‘non-confrontation’ will bring, it’s a moot question: Amit Shah promised a rally in Calcutta on Sunday that if the BJP comes to power, not only would CAA be implemented, all of TMC’s corrupt ministers would be put in jail!
Delhi is full of questions and few answers. Apart from the big one on who started it, the other question that’s swirling around in Delhi is on Kanhaiya Kumar.
Apparently keeping in mind the ‘changing public mood’, the Kejriwal Government gave the green signal to Kanahiya’s prosecution in the 2016 ‘sedition’ case in the midst of all the relief and rehabilitation work for riot victims — though, truth be told, it’s citizen groups, RWAs, NGOs and the Sikh community who have come forward to shoulder all the burden for the latter.
The action against Kanhaiya, those in the know say, has little to do with Delhi, and everything to do with the Bihar elections slated for later this year.
Again, Prashant Kishor seems to be the catalyst. AAP, it seems, won’t mind trying its luck in Bihar. And Kanahiya was coming in the way, with his rallies becoming an eyesore for the other political parties in Bihar.
Whether the trial will boomerang or not, only time will tell.
Friends in opposition
Strange as it may sound, Congress leader and former Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat just saved the incumbent Trivendra Singh Rawat against an internal BJP coup.
Had Harish Rawat not pulled some strings behind the scenes, it seems Trivendra would have surely lost his chair to some other BJP leader in the state. Members of the small Uttarakhand Assembly are notorious for their fickle loyalties.
Both the Congress and BJP, during their previous stints at power in the state, had to make multiple changes in chief ministers.
Some were apparently keen on a repeat.
A particular Union minister from the state, it’s said, is more interested in the CM’s chair than in his own ministry where little work takes place.
But Rawat saved Rawat! Down south in Karnataka, a similar cross-party bonhomie was on display between the Chief Minister and the leader of the opposition during the former’s birthday bash.
Both BSY and Siddaramaiah waxed eloquent on each other on the occasion.
There’s not much of a dispute that Amulya Patnaik was a bit of a disaster as Delhi Police chief. From overreaction (to put it mildly) in Jamia to inaction in JNU to running away from the action in riot-hit northeast Delhi, Patnaik managed quite a feat before his retirement.
Will his successor SN Srivastava be able to shore up Delhi Police’s tattered image, which has left India globally discredited? Well, his cricketing skills are well-known, quipped a veteran on the block.
Prashant Kishor seems to be the flavour of the season in the South too. From DMK’s Stalin to HD Kumaraswamy of JD(S), they are all pinning their hopes on Kishor swinging them to power.
Back in Bihar, Kishor is batting for Bihari ‘asmita’ (pride), and from Bengal, as a prize for guarding Mamata’s fortress, he may just be given a Rajya Sabha seat from the Trinamool quota.
Of the four seats falling vacant, Mamata’s unlikely to repeat businessman KD Singh and painter-artist Jogen Choudhury. One of these seats may go to Kishor.
The Congress-CPI(M) may together pull off one too.
The favourite for such a coalition candidate is Sitaram Yechury. However, the CPI(M), given its tendencies, may shoot that down. Unless Brinda Karat is the candidate, instead of Yechury!
The author is Resident Editor, Bangalore, TNIE Email: email@example.com