Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s close associate RCP Singh is likely to be inducted into Narendra Modi’s Cabinet. Nitish wants Singh to be given Railways so that any “transgressions” during Lalu Prasad’s tenure as minister can be discovered. Singh, a Kurmi from the same region as Nitish, is a retired Uttar Pradesh IAS officer who worked with Nitish both when he was railway minister and later CM. After Singh retired, the JD(U) nominated him twice to the Rajya Sabha. Santosh Kushwaha, a JD(U) MP from Purnea, could get a minister of state appointment.
Speaker holds key
Acting Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao has kept in abeyance a decision on the petition of 19 MLAs from the TTV Dinakaran faction stating that they are withdrawing support to the E K Palaniswami government. Rao feels that since a full-time governor for the state is to be appointed shortly, the latter should take the decision. The Palaniswami and Panneerselvam factions are working overtime to get some of the MLAs in Dinakaran’s camp to switch sides. Meanwhile, the 19 MLAs have been packed off to a resort in Puducherry by Dinakaran, who is confident that a vote of confidence will topple the government. He claims there are some “sleeper cells” in Palaniswami’s own Cabinet who will show their true colours. Palaniswami’s biggest handicap in winning a confidence vote is that Speaker P Dhanapal is perceived to be in the Dinakaran faction. The Speaker is key in deciding what counts as defection.
J&K Governor NN Vohra was elected president of the India International Centre (IIC) in June after jurist Soli Sorabjee stepped down, annoyed by heckling at an annual general body meeting and shocked that a meeting of the trustees in February had been secretly recorded. Curiously, last year, when Vohra was proposed as president of IIC, Delhi, then elected trustee, Vipin Malik, had objected on the grounds that Vohra was not a permanent resident of Delhi and could not devote time for transacting the onerous business of the prestigious institution. Vohra appeared to agree, since he immediately withdrew his name and proposed Kapila Vatsyayan’s instead. But after Sorabjee resigned, Vohra changed his mind and stood for election. He was perhaps under the impression that the BJP government might relieve him shortly of his governorship. However, two months later, Vohra continues as both governor of J&K and IIC president. Meanwhile, another trustee, Justice BN Srikrishna, has threatened to resign since the new president has reversed decisions taken by the old board of trustees, including on the appointment of a senior employee, who has got a stay.
Leader minus party
JD(U) dissident Sharad Yadav was named convener of the united Opposition conference titled, ‘Protection of Composite Culture of India’. The problem is that Yadav may not remain in the JD(U) much longer. The cards are stacked in Nitish Kumar’s favour. All 71 JD(U) MLAs and 30 JD(U) MLCs in Bihar back Nitish. So do both Lok Sabha MPs. Only in the Rajya Sabha, out of its nine MPs, there are dissidents, Yadav and Ali Anwar. Recently, when Yadav visited Bihar, he was greeted by slogans of “Lalu Rabri zindabad” and “Nitish murdabad”, suggesting that his supporters were from the RJD. Yadav had been on a different page from Nitish on various issues. The JD(U) feels Yadav was brainwashed because he sat between Ghulam Nabi Azad and Sitaram Yechury in Parliament. Yadav’s detractors claim the final straw was when he learnt that the PM was unwilling to make him a minister from the JD(U) quota.
Amit Shah gave a dressing down to BJP cadres in Karnataka during his recent visit to the state, including snapping at former deputy chief minister R Ashoka. Shah felt the state BJP was taking it easy and not being proactive in campaigning against the Siddaramaiah government. He warned that party ticket allotments would be decided on the basis of organisational work. Ever since, aspirants for tickets have been scrambling to muster workers to take part in protest rallies. They have also hired a large numbers of photographers and video camerapersons in Bengaluru to ensure that there is documentary proof of their hard work.
Not Pappu, Rahul
In a speech in Madhya Pradesh, BJP president Amit Shah asked the audience rhetorically who would replace Sonia Gandhi as Congress president. Someone in the audience replied “Pappu” (a derogatory description of Rahul Gandhi in the social media). Shah ticked off the person, remarking: “Don’t use such terms. Say Rahul Gandhi.’’