The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will turn 100 in 2025. Mohan Bhagwat, its Sarsangchalak, is planning to celebrate it in a big way across the country. A year prior, in 2024, the Lok Sabha election is going to be held and the details of the RSS programme will be announced before that. It will include yatras, events, publications, etc. The RSS headquarters will also be reconstructed before 2024.
Before A Beginning
What happens to Indo-Pak relations now that Imran Khan is out and Shehbaz Sharif is in as Pakistan prime minister? Sharif has expressed his willingness to meet Narendra Modi. It is also being said that this could happen on the sidelines of an international summit. But before any such meeting, many preconditions would have to be fulfilled. Imran Khan had said that he was not ready to talk without changing the position of Section 370 in Kashmir, but Pakistan now seems to be willing to give up on that stand. They could also give some positive message on terrorism. The signs of a potential Modi-Sharif meet are looking good so far.
Negotiating the Ally
Recently when Nitish Kumar went to attend Yogi Adityanath’s oath-taking ceremony, photographers clicked him bowing before Narendra Modi in what seemed in an obsequious manner. The equations of his government in Bihar have changed with BJP now being the dominant party in the state. Nitish’s body language led people to comment that he is beholden to Modi to remain in power.
In the recent by-elections, BJP lost all seats. In the party office, there is a discussion on how to break this trend. The main reason, they feel, is that Narendra Modi and Amit Shah usually don’t campaign for the by-elections. Some feel this total dependence on the two for victory is not good in the long run.
Prashant Kishor is again making news after his meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi. There are rumours that he might join the party and even be given a major position. Or he could take the role left vacant by Ahmed Patel, of Sonia’s political advisor. He could be the one to bring all the non-BJP regional parties and Congress together. He is very close to several chief ministers, from Mamata Banerjee to MK Stalin. Several Congressmen will however not be happy if Kishor joins the party, but are remaining silent for the moment. Leaders like Randeep Surjewala and Pawan Khera have had a number of spats with Kishor on Twitter. Those who are not in favour of him are trying to convince Rahul Gandhi that Kishor’s ambition may prove too high a cost for the Gandhis.
Wooed by AAP?
Can Vasundhara Raje Scindia, once upon a time the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister of Rajasthan, be the face of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the state? Raje was to attend Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s oath-taking ceremony but before that, unexpectedly met Arvind Kejriwal’s deputy Manish Sisodia in Delhi. Gossip started on whether she had been offered to be AAP’s chief ministerial candidate in Rajasthan. After his party’s resounding victory in Punjab, Kejriwal is said to have Haryana and Rajasthan on his radar now. Raje’s relationship with BJP has deteriorated but that she will quit the party is not a given. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot of Congress is also looking at the developments keenly. Even he might be interested in getting her to his party.
The government is trying to bring in new legislation to ensure that Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service officers do stints in Delhi. A number of such officials want to remain with state governments who have to give permission for their transfer to the Centre. The Centre’s argument is that exposure to national government will widen their experience and make them work better in states too. State governments, meanwhile, say they cannot send officials because they have a paucity. This is an old battle between the Centre and states, but comes at a time when relations between them are at a nadir. Both sides are taking hardline positions.
Babul Supriyo, who switched over from BJP to Trinamool Congress, managed to win the Ballygunge by-election by a margin of 20,000 votes. He might now be made a minister in the state cabinet. That might have been the understanding when he joined them. Existing ministers are wondering what portfolio he could be given. The possible ministries are transport or consumer affairs.
Bonds That Help
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is said to have got an assurance from her Maharashtra counterpart Uddhav Thackeray to construct a state guesthouse in Mumbai. She had told Thackeray several cancer patients went from Kolkata to Mumbai to get treatment at the Tata Memorial Hospital and her government could give them with cheap accommodation if a guesthouse was there. The Maharashtra government had to give land. Banerjee may soon go to Mumbai for a conference of non-BJP chief ministers. It might lead to further strengthening of bonds between the two states.