All parties on Pulwama
The atmosphere at the all-party meeting was somber. The heartwrenching stories from the homes of the martyred jawans, ensured hard questions--on either security or intelligence failure-- were avoided. Only protestations came from NC patron Farooq Abdullah, that too on the withdrawal of security cover of several mainstream politicians in the Valley. As for war talk, it only came from Ramdas Athawale, the junior minister social justice and empowerment.
Citing how ‘the world powers have risen in condemnation of the Pulwama terror attack’, particularly the US NSA John Bolton’s remark on ‘India’s right to self-defence’, Athawala chipped in: “The time was ripe to declare war on Pakistan, we feel”. Startled, everyone from the opposition swung towards Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, for confirmation. Whether that’s the thinking in government. “It’s his personal view,” Singh quietly responded. A knee-jerk war between two nuclear-armed nations, is not what anyone from the defence or the security establishment is advising, even if the domestic sentiment is for an immediate retaliatory strike.
The rather nuanced all-party resolution on Pulwama which spoke about national unity, solidarity with the jawans, fight against scourge of terrorism, was panned in the social media for failing to mention a ‘muh tor javab’ (befitting reply) to Pakistan. The resolution, it seems, was drafted by the top bureaucrat of the Home Ministry, and circulated at the end of the meeting. All parties agreed to the draft, but TMC members had to dial up Didi Mamata Banerjee. A suggestion from CPI’s D Raja to include a line against communal flareup was shot down by Rajnath Singh. However, the Home Minister later got a warning circular issued from his ministry. The situation in Jammu being of some concern.
The Mulayam intrigue
The day after Mulayam Singh Yadav wished PM Modi a second term, posters appeared Lucknow thanking the Samajwadi patriarch for voicing the sentiments of 125 crore Indians! Never mind, Rabri Devi dig at her Yadav-in-law’s fading memory. Lucknow is full of tattle though, about Mulayam being a captive of his younger son Pratik Yadav. The latter wife’s Arpita is an unabashed Modi Bakht. She even entertained the idea of joining the BJP. Needless to say, the step family’s equation with SP chief Akhilesh Yadav is not exactly cosy.
In search of seats
Just like Sharad Pawar, Deve Gowda too is considering contesting the Lok Sabha. Given his delicate health, Gowda Senior is not willing to step beyond Bangaluru Central. If Amit Shah is keen to field deceased BJP leader Ananth Kumar’s wife Tejaswini from the same constituency, the Congress wants a trade off. In exchange for the Bangaluru Central, it wants ally JD-S to part with Mandaya. The GOP plans to field Kannada deceased actor-pilitician Ambareesh’s widow from Mandaya, to cash in on the superstar’s fan base. Only problem, Chief Minister HD Kumarswamy’s son Nikhil has set his eyes on the seat.
Can’t give up
Prashant Kishor obviously can’t give up his money churning enterprise of political consultancy for the political role in Nitish Kumar’s JD-U. He’s not just advising Shiv Sena supremo Udhav Thackeray on how win more seats than BJP in Maharashtra, he’s also handling YSRC chief Jagan Mohan Reddy’s account. Not to mention other sundry BJP MP that his I-PAC will be assisting. Well, if that’s not Balle Balle, Kishor is advising Punjab CM Amrinder Singh on policy matters!
The author is Political Editor, TNIE.