The wordy skirmish arose after the Sena initially assured the Congress it would vote against CAB and then backtracked.
The ideological differences between the Shiv Sena and its alliance partner in Maharashtra are already showing. Rahul Gandhi, infuriated with the Sena’s position on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament, deliberately raked up V D Savarkar’s apology to the British government. (He was responding to the BJP’s demand that he apologise for his alleged rape-in-India remark.) Saamana editor Sanjay Raut had to caution the Congress not to take potshots at Sena heroes.
The wordy skirmish arose after the Sena initially assured the Congress it would vote against CAB and then backtracked. After Amit Shah mocked the Sena in his Lok Sabha speech for voting on the same side as the Muslim Majlis, the hitherto Hindutva torchbearers were uncomfortable. Just before voting in the Lok Sabha, Sena MPs walked distractedly in and out of the House conferring frantically with Mumbai for instructions. Eventually, to the shock of the Congress, the Sena voted in support of the Bill. Rahul, who was against the Maharashtra alliance in the first place, threatened the Sena that the Congress would pull out of it in Maharashtra if the Sena did not change its position in the Rajya Sabha. Till the eleventh hour there was no unanimity in the party, however, and Raut delivered a roundabout speech in the Rajya Sabha which left everyone still guessing as to which way his party would vote. Finally, the Sena MPs simply abstained.
The BJP is now seeking to embarrass the Sena further. It is planning to demand that Bombay University be named after Savarkar. The Sena will find it embarrassing not to support the suggestion.
Junior’s canny cuts
The IPL will not have its opening ceremony extravaganza this year. BCCI secretary Jay Amit Shah, who proposed this, pointed out that Rs 25 to Rs 30 crore could be saved by dispensing with the glitz and glamour. The junior Shah has come up with several costcutting measures. He showed a way in which the BCCI could save the Rs 40 lakh annually spent on executives’ hotel suite bills. He suggested that hotels should be told to rent the suites at regular room rates. Given the substantial revenue and goodwill the BCCI generates when the team stays at a hotel, the hotels will fall in line, he pointed out. The post of BCCI secretary is actually the most powerful in the national cricket body, since he handles its day-to-day running, while the president is the public face who oversees occasionally. Jay Shah is taking his job seriously, and visits Mumbai regularly for scrutinising files.
Menon’s dark side
Jairam Ramesh’s biography of V K Krishna Menon sheds new light on the complicated personality of one of Jawaharlal Nehru’s closest friends, described as the former prime minister’s ‘soul mate’ by the author. The engrossing biography, based on fresh archival material, reveals that Nehru entrusted Menon with responsibilities such as the post of high commissioner to the UK and defence minister, although Nehru had himself diagnosed Menon as suffering from depression and dark mood swings, as early as 1938. When asked to leave as high commissioner, Menon in a letter acknowledged to Nehru that he took sedatives and hypnotics, but insisted that the barbiturates were not habit-forming. The mercurial Menon, who had strong likes and dislikes, usually created divisions wherever he worked. As defence minister Menon played havoc. He encouraged army chief General P N Thapar to humiliate and chargesheet two of the most outstanding officers in the Indian Army, General K S Thimayya and General S P P Thorat, who were later exonerated. He instigated his favourite, General B M Kaul, to hold a court of inquiry against Lt General Sam Manekshaw, who was to be later appointed India’s first field marshal.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was working on an image makeover even before Prashant Kishor was formally inducted to help in his Assembly election campaign. Kejriwal is now focused on also wooing middle-class voters and not just the poor. He no longer projects himself as a rebel fighting the establishment. Despite Delhi’s terrible pollution, he has lost his cough, his trademark muffler and appears more mellow, measured and mature.
Narayan Lal Panchariya is officially the BJP’s whip in the Rajya Sabha, but backroom boys Bhupender Yadav and C R Ramesh were actually responsible for the impeccable floor coordination during the vote on CAB. Before the vote, Yadav predicted that at least 124 MPs would support the Bill. (Eventually 125 did.) Ramesh, who switched from the TDP to BJP, is friendly with MPs across party lines. Thanks to his persuasive powers, a dozen MPs from the Opposition disappeared before the vote, including from the Congress, NCP, BSP, Samajwadi Party, TRS and JD(S).