Many Congresspersons are unhappy with the party decision to back the motion for impeachment of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. They feel Rahul Gandhi was unduly influenced by CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, whom he sometimes addresses as “chief’’. Party workers apprehend that the Congress president pays more attention to outsiders and non-politicians than experienced hands. At the recent Congress plenary session, technocrat and NRI Sam Pitroda’s suggestions carried more weight than anyone else’s. During the Gujarat election, the views of Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani and a new entrant, Alpesh Thakor, overrode the wishes of the state leadership. Rahul’s Delhi office is filled with non-politicians, including his closest aide, K Raju, a former IAS officer. Pranab Mukherjee, who has a lifetime of experience in Congress politics, has not been consulted since he moved out of Rashtrapati Bhavan. Former PM Manmohan Singh’s position on the CJI’s impeachment was ignored. Most of Rahul’s advisers have radical views which do not reflect the party’s middle-of-the-road position.
Whiz kid OSD
President Ram Nath Kovind is creating quite a flutter on social media. The Rashtrapati Bhavan Facebook page has been listed as the second most interactive and popular site run by a government body in India. (The PMO’s is No 1.) It also figures among the top 10 most visited sites of heads of state or government in the world. Its videos are particularly popular. The Republic Day parade video had over a million views. The President has nearly four million Twitter followers. Credit for the phenomenal rise in Kovind’s social media presence must go to his whiz kid OSD, Ankit Jain, who is still in his 20s and worked formerly for the Tatas.
Since the BJP faces a formidable challenge in Uttar Pradesh in 2019 because of the Samajwadi Party-BSP tie-up, political observers are watching keenly what counter move Amit Shah has up his sleeve. A speculation is that the BJP would induct 17 Most Backward Castes (MBCs), such as Rajbhars, Nishads, Mallahs and Kumhars, into the Scheduled Caste category and remove them from the OBC grouping. This was a promise made by the BJP in 2014. The BJP’s eventual Brahmastra for UP may be a little different. The party is contemplating declaring sub-quota reservations for OBCs and SCs. This would mean that MBCs, who voted heavily for the BJP in recent years, would now find that most reserved jobs in the OBC category would be hogged by the Yadavs, the backbone of the SP. Similarly in the SC quota, the Jatavs, who constitute Mayawati’s vote bank, would have to make space for more depressed SC castes, such as Valmikis, Koris, Pasis, Dhobis and others.
For six months, the faction-ridden Congress in Madhya Pradesh was remarkably peaceful. A consensus seemed to have emerged that Jyotiraditya Scindia was the best bet as chief ministerial candidate for the Assembly polls. Even Kamal Nath appeared to accept that the old order had to make way for the new. But Digvijaya Singh’s return after his Narmada yatra has upset the equilibrium. Though he claimed his yatra was a spiritual exercise, the moment he returned to Bhopal he jumped into active politics. Digvijaya teamed up with Kamal Nath to block Scindia. Now, Kamal Nath has taken over as PCC chief, leaving the question of who is CM candidate open.
Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purohit called a press conference to deny allegations that he had anything to do with a sexual harassment scandal at Madurai Kamaraj University, after a video of a woman professor suggesting to four girl students that they should “oblige high officials” went viral on social media. But Purohit ran into fresh controversy when, at the press conference, he patted the cheek of a woman journalist when she asked a question. The 78-year-old had to apologise to the reporter and explain that it was merely a grandfatherly pat. The Central government is now planning to transfer not Purohit, but his secretary. The IAS officer wrongly advised the governor to call a press conference to refute innuendos in the social media, it is felt. Traditionally, governors do not hold press conferences about such matters. The Centre would like the governor’s secretary in future to be an officer who speaks Hindi and can communicate freely with New Delhi.