BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur responds to all media queries about the board, while BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya is silent. Ever since Dalmiya became the consensus candidate for president, replacing N Srinivasan in March, his health has deteriorated and he is unable to take charge. The 75-year-old, who was ousted from the BCCI in 2005, was the only candidate acceptable to the rival camps after the Supreme Court barred Srinivasan from election. BCCI insiders say the new president finds it difficult to make it in time for any meeting before 3 pm and is unlikely to be able to attend any overseas ICC meet. As his term is for three years, the board is in a quandary.
Left of left
Last Monday, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi sat in Parliament’s Central Hall for almost half an hour. Both mother and son were in a relaxed mood, surrounded by Congress MPs and a few journalists. CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury joined them. Rahul joked that some people felt that he (Rahul) was more Left than the Left in his political ideology. Since the shoot-out with terrorists in Gurdaspur was still on then, Sonia asked a former Punjab Congress MP for the latest details of the encounter. The Punjab leader said he had learnt that the gunmen were Muslim, not Sikh. Rahul frowned and reminded him that terrorists should not be labelled according to their religion.
PM Narendra Modi put a lot of effort into making his visit to five central Asian countries—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan—a success. The tour was clubbed with Modi’s visit to Ufa in Russia for the BRICS Summit. But the PM was upset to find almost no mention of his visit in the Indian media. Modi does not take journalists other than those from state-owned media on his aircraft. None of the private media felt it was worth their while to send a correspondent to remote regions which are of limited news interest to Indians.
Of the BJP leaders targeted by the Congress for alleged acts of impropriety/corruption—Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan—it’s Chouhan who is the most vulnerable, though the axe may not fall on him immediately. The argument for retaining Swaraj is that Modi’s rivals such as Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari would use the opportunity to gang up against the PM. Raje has the support of a majority of the Rajasthan MLAs and is capable of walking out of the BJP and forming a regional party if an attempt is made to force her out. Chouhan is vulnerable particularly because his rival Kailash Vijayvargiya is plotting against him. Vijayvargiya, a six-time MLA and state minister, has been appointed BJP general secretary and is a favourite of party president Amit Shah, apart from being friendly with the PM.
There were notable absentees at the launch of former RAW chief AS Dulat’s book Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years. Captain Amarinder Singh, who was mentioned as the guest of honour, was missing. So was Sajad Lone, who was meant to take part in a discussion on the book. The poster behind the dais announced that Delhi L-G Najeeb Jung would preside, but he was not present. The most mysterious absence was of the book’s co-author, journalist Aditya Sinha. Dulat explained to the audience that Sinha was stuck in a traffic jam. But in a newspaper article, Sinha said that differences between Dulat and his ghost writer have cropped up. Sinha claimed that the book’s punch and outspokenness were his contribution. Dulat was reluctant to allow any sensitive material to be included and Sinha had to persuade him. If Dulat had had his way, the book would have been a damp squib.
Division in ranks
The Congress is divided over its strategy of insisting on the resignation of BJP ministers and CMs before parliamentary business can be transacted. Some MPs fear the party is being blamed for not letting the government function. But Rahul Gandhi is adamant and has had his way. The divide is indicated by the fact that while Congress MPs in the Lok Sabha wear black arm bands to protest against the BJP, its Rajya Sabha MPs do not.