By Nora Chopra
While Narendra Modi has already held a number of rallies, the central leadership of the Congress is missing from action in both the states of Haryana and Maharashtra. Rahul began his campaign in Maharashtra on 8 October in Mahad in Raigad district and the second rally Ausa in Latur district. With these two rallies he has covered Konkan and Marathwada. He is supposed to address one more rally in Maharashtra, most likely in western Maharashtra. His mother Sonia is supposed to address four rallies in Maharashtra, covering all four regions. Rahul will address three rallies in Haryana. First in Ferozepur, second in Rewari district and third in Sonepat district. Sonia has already done two rallies in Haryana: one in Meyham and the other in Sirsa. She might address another rally on the last day of the campaign. But the reason for their brief appearances is that Rahul is not wanted by most candidates in the fray in both the states. Whereas the Congress president is not well plus she does not want to be seen competing with Modi who is going all out to campaign because winning this election means a lot for Modi. Besides being a prestige issue after the results of the by-polls, after all he has to prove his relevance. Modi it is believed will campaign even in a corporation election.
VIDHARBA ON BJP CARDS
The BJP is all set to divide Maharashtra and create the separate state of Vidharba a long standing demand of the people of that region. In the aftermath of its divorce from the Shiv Sena, the BJP is now banking on the 62 seats of Vidharba region of Maharashtra. Vidharba will be the highest-priority promise in the BJP’s agenda. Nitin Gadkari, who hails from that region, is supposed to be telling people that the BJP needs three years to fulfill this fifty-year-old demand of the people. BJP is the only party that has raised the issue. While the Sena is opposed to it the Congress has not even mentioned it in its manifesto. The Vidharba leadership of the Congress has either merged into BJP or are defunct after the party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha election. This move of the BJP can prove to be a setback for both the Congress and the Shiv Sena. Meanwhile, Congress and the Sena are all set to play the Gujarati card against the BJP. The Congress is raising the issue of how the Gujarati Modi has undermined the economic capital Mumbai. They are making noises over the shifting of a key department of RBI to Delhi and diverting the traffic of Jawaharlal Nehru Port of Mumbai to Mundra Port. And the Shiv Sena is charging the Guajarati leadership of the BJP to have engineered the separation between the BJP and the Sena.
RAJNATH LUGS HIS STARS ALONG
Sudhanshu Trivedi is the astrologer and political adviser of the former BJP president Rajnath Singh but has no position in the home minister’s office. But last week, when Rajnath held a press conference of the home ministry, eyebrows were raised to see Trivedi present at the home ministry briefing along with the officials. People were heard asking what was Trivedi doing there. The home ministry officials were at pains to answer the question. After all Trivedi is Rajnath Singh’s astrologer who monitors his stars. Trivedi is believed to have predicted that by January 2015 Singh would become the PM. It is for this reason that Singh keeps him along even in the ministry violating all protocol.
CONGRESS SPOKESPERSON IN PTI?
The Congress party has found a new spokesman the PTI. On Friday Ajay Maken met the press in the afternoon to brief them on how the medicine prices have gone up after the Narendra Modi government took over. In the evening journalists were surprised to see that the Congress had sent a PTI copy as the party’s press statement.
THE RETURN OF JAIKISHEN
While Rahul Gandhi is not in demand either in Haryana or Maharashtra, but one person who is in great demand is the lone dalit Balmiki MLA of Delhi, Jaikishen. Jaikishen, who was perennially sulking and cribbing for being ignored by the Congress leadership and by Rahul Gandhi, will now be rubbing shoulders with him. The Balmiki votes shifted from Congress, yet the party did not make any efforts to woo them back. Jaikishen, the only dalit Balmiki MLA who had won on his own, was ignored. He was so upset that if he would have so managed, he was planning to succumb to the BJP pressure of joining it. But now with elections in sight, he is one Congress leader who has a base and the leadership had no option but to use him. He is now a star campaigner for Haryana where the dalit population is about 22 per cent. He is also likely to get a position in the AICC whenever the reshuffle is done.
BJP MUSLIM LEADERS TONE DOWN EID
Bakreid this year was not good news for journalists always on the lookout for good food, good time and good networking. As journalists used to hopping around the capital looking for the korma kebab biryani and seewain were most disappointed to discover that most of the houses of BJP Muslims known for their hospitality were either missing or their houses were locked. Shahnawaz Hussain, known for his hospitality and the biryani and kebabs, was not even present in his house. Journalists who were regular at his Eid celebrations were told that he was in his constituency. Husain had not even hosted his yearly roza iftaar. Najma Heptullah was even worse. She had locked her house and when journalists came she shut the door on their faces and even refused to take their wishes. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had locked his house from inside and had a few selective friends over pretending that it was not Eid celebration. Next day when some journalists called them up then Hussain’s APS told them that Eid was not celebrated because of the Bihar tragedy. Whereas Hussain himself had a more flimsy excuse to give. He said since he is living in somebody else’s house how can he celebrate Eid. Najma said she did not celebrate Eid because of the Kashmir calamity.
BABUS TO TRAVEL AIR INDIA
The million dollar question making rounds in the bureaucracy as well as in political circles is who will be the next Cabinet secretary? Despite many names floating in the air ever since Narendra Modi took charge of the Government, there has not been any candidate who seems to be stepping in Ajit Seth’s shoes. Sources in the PMO claim that the prime minister is very happy with his work and his sincere and adept handling of the tasks assigned to him and the PM may grant him another extension for another six months. Meanwhile, Seth is busy only in sending circulars to bureaucrats and officials giving them new instructions of the government. The latest being a circular that instructs all the babus of the government which makes the Air India flight mandatory for all government officials. According to the circular all government officials should take Air India flights even when they are travelling with their families and have taken an LTC. If because of any reason, they cannot get the booking in the AI flight they should travel in other government recommended flights approved by their respective offices.
SENIOR JOURNO MOCKED AT PMO
A very senior veteran columnist was seeking time from the prime minister Narendra Modi and after several weeks of waiting he finally got a call from the PMO that now he can come and meet the PM as he has been granted time. But when the journalist reached the PM’s office he was told to go and first meet Jitendra Singh the MoS in the PMO. At first the journalist was slightly taken a back and told them that he had sought time from Narendra Modi why should he go and meet the MoS. But finally he had no option but to meet the MoS. When he reached the office of Jitendra Singh he was shown all the articles he has written against Modi and his government! (IPA)