Baba Ramdev was not active during the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand polls claiming to be on a maun vrat, but according to the political grapevine, the yoga guru did not want to campaign against a fellow Yadav in UP. Ramdev also nurses a grievance that the BJP government has not rewarded him suitably for his extensive campaigning in 2014. Ramdev has opened a seven-star Ayurvedic spa, Niramayam, on a 1,000-acre spread in Haridwar. The luxurious spa has a swimming pool, ayurvedic treatment centre and other facilities for alternative medicine. Two bedroom villas are priced as high as R50,000 a night, though there are also ordinary rooms available for R2,500. The spa was inaugurated by finance minister Arun Jaitley, who got slightly injured when he tripped trying to board the swami’s helicopter.
Self-proclaimed whiz-kid pollster Prashant Kishor now has a problem collecting his dues for the large army of workers he retained during the Assembly polls. The Congress may eventually agree to pay its share of 60% of the bill for UP, but Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party is adamant that it is not going to cough up the remaining 40%. Akhilesh feels PK did more harm than good.
Digvijaya Singh flew to Panjim fully expecting the Congress to form the government. But there was a hitch. Congress legislators could not agree on who should be the leader; three former CMs had staked their claim to the post. Singh landed in Goa around 11 am and sent a request to meet Governor Mridula Sinha at 1 pm. But the appointment had to be changed to 2 pm, then 3 pm, and then 4 pm. Each postponement was because of the failure to elect a leader in time. Rahul Gandhi in faraway Delhi declined to take a tough line and announce the leader. Meanwhile, Nitin Gadkari flew down and found complete unanimity among the BJP MLAs and even the Goa Forward Party for Manohar Parrikar to be brought back as chief minister. Singh realised belatedly that the ground was slipping from under the Congress’s feet when GFP leader Vijai Sardesai did not respond to his call. Even Churchill Alemao of the NCP got fed up waiting for the Congress to make up its mind and indicated to his party leaders that he had no option but to support the BJP. As a desperate ploy to demonstrate to the court that the party had indeed staked a claim, a letter asking for an appointment with the governor was thrown over the Raj Bhavan compound wall in the middle of the night. Even in this letter the leader’s name was not mentioned. The
next morning the BJP paraded 22 MLAs in front of the governor to prove its majority.
Before the Uttar Pradesh elections, Akhilesh Yadav had accused Amar Singh of trying to create a rift between his father and himself. Mulayam Singh Yadav, however, continued to be loyal to Amar Singh and insisted that Singh remained his friend, even as Akhilesh wanted to remove him from the party. With the elections over, Singh has emerged squarely on the side of the BJP and has disassociated himself not just from Akhilesh but also from Mulayam. Singh seems to have got the better of the Yadav parivar, retaining his Rajya Sabha seat and other assets.
Silence at statue
During the past six months TMC chief Mamata Banerjee has kept her MPs in Delhi on their toes, with one protest after another against the Modi government. From the beginning of the year, TMC MPs have staged a series of dharnas at Gandhiji’s statue in the Parliament compound. The protest issues have ranged from demonetisation to CBI raids on TMC MPs. But since the Uttar Pradesh results, there has been no word from the Bengal CM to her flock in Delhi. In fact a message has been conveyed that there is no need to create a ruckus in Parliament or outside.
BJP leaders have questioned how a large section of the media could have got the outcome of the UP Assembly polls so wrong. The misinformation was particularly glaring during the first phase of the polling. It was claimed by the media, pollsters and the satta market that the first phase of the campaign in western Uttar Pradesh had gone badly for the BJP. In fact, as it turned out, the BJP had its best performance in western Uttar Pradesh, the Jat heartland, with a successful strike rate of 88%.