In a trance?
The BJP is concerned about municipal elections in Uttar Pradesh, due in November. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has not exactly endeared himself to his own party members, let alone the rest of the electorate. In his drive against corruption, Yogi has ordered that no party worker or leader should apply for government quotas or contracts. He has even decreed that party members should not visit police stations and try to browbeat the police. BJP workers grumble that they did not join the party simply to lay durries and gather crowds, while others reap the benefits. Another fallout of this is that construction activity has slowed down drastically. The CM has banned excavation of riverbeds and consequently the price of sand used in building sites has skyrocketed. Yogi’s ministers also grumble that the CM is frequently inaccessible. Some joke privately that perhaps he spends a lot of his time in the yogic position called tandra, which means he is neither sleeping nor awake. He is in a trance.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s speech on the day of Vijayadashami in Nagpur has rattled the BJP high command. Bhagwat subtly voiced the concerns of Sangh workers that the government is alienating its core constituency, and has not done enough for traders, the informal sector, farmers and unemployed youth. The RSS chief has received numerous complaints from Sangh bodies such as the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and Swadeshi Jagran Manch about the government’s economic policies. Compared to the time of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah interact far more frequently with the big four in the RSS. But the RSS feels that apart from symbolic gestures, there has to be substantive action on the ground. The BJP has prepared a booklet on Bhagwat’s speech which is being hotly debated by its cadre. Shah is to form a think tank to highlight salient points from Bhagwat’s speech for action by the government. A meeting to discuss implementing suitable changes in GST rules was called suddenly on Friday, with Shah cutting short his much-publicised trip to Kerala.
Old world politics
At a meeting in Delhi last week to condole Shyama Sinha’s death, her friends recalled her multi-faceted personality — an outspoken Congress MP, social worker, spouse of a former Delhi police commissioner who later became governor and MP, and the lady who fought fiercely to ensure that her fabled garden at 28 Akbar Road always won the first prize at the Delhi garden show. Shyama,74, was a warm, fun-loving person who enjoyed life, especially a cup of fine, well-brewed tea. She was at Delhi’s IP College at the same time as two other formidable women Congress leaders, Meira Kumar and Ambika Soni. Another of her friends, former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, was a student at nearby Miranda House. Shyama and later her husband Nikhil Kumar represented the Aurangabad seat in Bihar. They followed in the footsteps of her father-in-law, Satyendra Narayan Sinha, who won from the constituency seven times and was also chief minister of Bihar. Such was the family’s popularity in its home district that in the 1980s, Shyama’s mother Madhuri Singh, her mother-in-law Kishori Sinha, and her father-in-law were all in the Lok Sabha at the same time. In those days, Bihar politics was more genteel and old world. Lalu Prasad as CM sought to end the family’s reign over Aurangabad by getting the constituency’s boundaries redrawn drastically during a delimitation exercise.
A rolling stone
Satyapal Malik, once Chaudhary Charan Singh’s close lieutenant, has a reputation for party-hopping. He was in the Bharatiya Kranti Dal, Congress, Janata Dal, Lok Dal and Samajwadi Party before joining the BJP. Rolling stones are said not to gather moss, but Malik, though a latecomer to the BJP, has pipped many party veterans to the prized position of Bihar governor. It was not Malik’s standing in the BJP, but the fact that Bihar CM Nitish Kumar pushed for his former Janata Dal colleague to be made governor, to ensure a smooth relationship with the Centre, which worked in his favour.
Advice from expert
The annual Governors’ Conference is to be held in New Delhi next week. Many governors miss the sage advice of former president Pranab Mukherjee, who was well versed in the law and matters of governance. More than a dozen governors have requested for an appointment with Mukherjee during their visit to Delhi. Meanwhile, President Ram Nath Kovind is still finding his feet in his new job. Unlike Mukherjee, he does not stray an inch from the prepared script in his speeches.