Inside Track by Coomi Kapoor: Nitish Kumar’s jibe at Amit Shah sends a clear message

NSA Ajit Doval, rather than the MEA, was successful in mollifying the feelings of Iranians upset over Nupur Sharma’s verbal missile.

Nitish-kumar coomi kapoor
Nitish Kumar tests COVID positive.

Suspect choice

Some suspect that the BJP’s surprise decision to field Ghanshyam Lodhi, and not Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, as its candidate for the Rampur Lok Sabha by-election is part of a secret understanding with former Rampur MP Azam Khan. Khan, the SP politician who resigned his parliamentary seat after winning the Rampur Assembly constituency from jail, was last month granted bail by the Supreme Court in 81 cases filed against him by the Yogi government. The Central government’s rejoinder to the bail application filed by Kapil Sibal was rather weak. Lodhi, a former SP MLC, is a close associate of Khan and used to describe himself as his “Hanuman”. While Khan was in jail, Akhilesh Yadav never bothered to visit him. But after his release, Akhilesh sent a blank candidate’s form and asked Khan to fill out the name of his choice to contest in his place. Akhilesh expected that Khan would nominate his wife. Instead Khan waited till the very last moment  before filling out the name of Asim Raza, Rampur city president, considered a lack-lustre candidate.

Diplomatic Divisions

NSA Ajit Doval, rather than the MEA, was successful in mollifying the feelings of Iranians upset over Nupur Sharma’s verbal missile. During the Iranian Foreign Minister’s recent visit to India, Doval reportedly assured the minister that “anyone who speaks like this will be taught a lesson’’. While the Iranians reported the former police officer’s remark approvingly, the NSA neither confirmed nor denied the conversation. The MEA did not divulge details of the meeting but contradicted reports that any threat had been made to Nupur by pointing out that Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had removed the purported remark from its official website. But the statement remains on the Iranian official news agency website.

Seething CM

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s constant contradictions of BJP policy is a deliberate strategy. Recently, he scoffed at Amit Shah’s statement that history needed to be rewritten, remarking caustically, “How can anyone change history?’’ Nitish’s message is clear: the BJP can attempt to marginalise its alliance partner at its peril. When two senior BJP ministers sought to meet Nitish, he sent word that he was busy, indicating that he would only talk at the Amit Shah level. Nitish knows the numbers favour him. Whomsoever he aligns with gets a majority in the assembly. One conjecture is that Nitish hopes to strike a deal with Tejashwi Yadav as part of which Nitish will continue as chief minister till the 2024 election, after which he will step down to make way for Lalu Prasad’s son.

A Disputed Poll

While the buzz is that is Kiran Chaudhary was the second Congress MLA, along with Kuldip Bishnoi, who allegedly sabotaged Ajay Maken’s chances of election to Rajya Sabha, she has denied it vehemently. Bansi Lal’s feisty daughter-in-law, like many Haryana Congress MLAs, was infuriated by the appointment of Hooda’s lieutenant as state party president in place of the affable and popular Kumari Selja, but that doesn’t mean she turned dissident. The cancelled ballot paper had a tick on the candidate’s name instead of the stipulated vertical line and Chaudhary, a seasoned veteran, who has voted in six previous Rajya Sabha polls, would not normally have made such an obvious glaring mistake. Chaudhary’s argument is that the ballot paper is secret so how could anyone claim to have seen it? Incidentally, the winner, media owner Kartikeya Sharma, is related by marriage to Ajay Maken and the joke making the round about the victory he stole from Maken inevitably centred around “Maken chor”. Priyanka Vadra is doubly annoyed with the Hoodas. Not only did they assure the Gandhis that Maken would win easily, but Deependra Hooda, after three-fourths of the ballots were counted, came out of the counting centre to announce triumphantly that the Congress had won, resulting in the first false news flashes.

Left high and dry

Ever since the government indirectly took charge of the management of Delhi’s Gymkhana Club, things have gone to pot. The unkindest cut of all was a letter last week from the present nominated six-member general committee declaring that all spouses of deceased members will not be entitled to use the club facilities from July 1. The numerous elderly spouses of deceased members have been using the club as their second home for years and are totally dependent on the club’s take-away food facilities. Disbarring the widows, who hold legitimate spouse cards, is in contravention of the club’s articles of association.

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