Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to an ailing M Karunanidhi, political allegiances in Tamil Nadu have gone topsy turvy; nobody is quite sure just who is with whom.
Tangled TN politics
Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to an ailing M Karunanidhi, political allegiances in Tamil Nadu have gone topsy turvy; nobody is quite sure just who is with whom. For instance, the AIADMK’s Rajya Sabha member V Maitreyan, who was among the first in the party to hit out at Sasikala and her role during Jayalalithaa’s hospitalisation, is now siding with TT V Dinakaran, Sasikala’s nephew. O Panneerselvam and EK Palaniswami, who were both vying for the chief minister’s post, are now partners. Actor Kamal Haasan has projected himself as the rallying point in the state for the anti-BJP, anti-AIADMK forces. He is likely to weaken the DMK, though they were once considered on the same side. GK Vasan, GK Moopanar’s son who left the Congress and revived his father’s Tamil Manila Congress, is veering closer to actor Rajinikanth, who in turn is moving towards the BJP.
Hardik Patel’s youthful band has brought a unique flavour to the Gujarat election campaign. Hardik’s colleagues are like him — under 25, from rural areas, conversant mostly in colloquial Gujarati, and are cocky and irreverent. For instance, the answering voice on the mobile phone of one of Hardik’s spokespersons, Umang, announces in Gujarati that “the badshah is touring his territory, you have patience, when he is in the mood he will take your call’.’ The Patel youth brigade communicates almost entirely through WhatsApp. The PM is usually referred to as ‘feku’ with jokes like, “Mother of vikas (BJP) is on oxygen suffering from a fakology disease.’’ If Hardik was the target in raunchy sex tapes released recently, the Patels have released a counter-sting on chief minister Vijay Rupani. In the video, Rupani urges an Independent candidate, a fellow Jain standing from his constituency, to withdraw. Rupani points out to his potential rival that he is the only minority Jain CM and he should support him. He acknowledges that his party is on shaky ground. The Patel band may communicate largely by WhatsApp but many of their messages are picked up by newspapers and circulated.
The abrupt transfer of Vinay Srivastava, private secretary to the minister of human resource development Prakash Javadekar, has created a buzz in Shastri Bhawan, headquarters of the HRD ministry. Srivastava is known to be extremely close to Javadekar and had worked with him earlier in the Environment and Information and Broadcasting ministries. Srivastava, a 1992-batch officer of the Indian Railways Service, was recently reverted to his parent cadre by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, chaired by PM Narendra Modi. He was sent back to the railway ministry reportedly because his promotion was pending. Srivastava’s transfer came shortly after a newspaper report alleged that an extra coach was added to the Padmavat Express for Srivastava and three family members to travel from Lucknow to Delhi. The PMO sought a detailed report on the news item and an internal inquiry was initiated by the Railways.
Kept Out Of GES
The Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) was co-hosted by India and the US, with NITI Aayog as the organiser. But since the venue was Hyderabad, Telangana, chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had the power to veto his counterpart from Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu, from entering his territory. The two neighbouring CMs are bitter political rivals. Naidu was furious that he could not attend the GES inaugural dinner. The compromise brokered by the Central government was that Naidu’s daughter-in-law, Nara Brahmani, executive director of the family-owned Heritage Foods business, was invited as a delegate.
Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan is still recovering from his party’s defeat in the Chitrakoot Assembly by-election last month. While the constituency is a Congress stronghold, the CM made it a prestige issue, campaigning for three days and addressing nearly two dozen rallies. But, the Congress increased its victory margin over the last election. Two other by-elections are due shortly in Mungaoli and Kolaras constituencies respectively due to the deaths of the sitting Congress MLAs. With Assembly elections due in less than a year in the state, Chouhan does not want a second defeat to be blamed on him. With the Congress’s election in charge Jyotiraditya Scindia as the chief campaigner for his party, Chouhan has made Scindia’s aunt Yashodhara Scindia — a minister in his Cabinet — in charge of the BJP campaign. He feels the two members of the Gwalior royal family should slug it out amongst themselves. He does not plan to take too much interest.