In the coming West Bengal Assembly election, former Trinamool Congress leader and minister Suvendu Adhikari is getting prime importance in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which he has just joined. Last month, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Kolkata, at a tea party, he came to the table where Adhikari was sitting and they talked separately for about 10 minutes. Adhikari was a member of Parliament earlier and had interacted with Modi a few times as a Trinamool leader. Home Minister Amit Shah is also very favourably disposed towards him and invited him to Delhi to attend BJP’s core group meeting. Mamata Banerjee pulled a surprise when she announced her decision to contest from Nandigram, the stronghold of Adhikari. The question now is whether he will take on the challenge. BJP is keen that he should not be solely engaged in one constituency and must campaign in all areas given his political stature.
Congress leaders across India still remember Ahmed Patel, party President Sonia Gandhi’s key lieutenant, who passed away in November 2020. Recently, his daughter Mumtaz Patel visited Jaipur for a personal reason. She was staying at a Congress minister’s home. The minister informed Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot who immediately called and invited Mumtaz to his residence, where she met him and his family. Since returning to Delhi, she has been telling everyone about Gehlot’s hospitality.
Exploiting the Sting
Before the West Bengal election, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is reportedly trying to file a chargesheet in the Narada sting operation, in which many Trinamool Congress leaders were caught taking money on camera. CBI recently sought permission from the West Bengal governor to include the names of three more ministers in the case before finalising the chargesheet. If the governor gives that permission without the sanction of the state government, it will lead to a fresh war between the two. Possibly, it will be Delhi that will take a political call on this.
2021 is important to Bangladesh as it will mark 50 years of the 1971 liberation war with Pakistan and the freedom struggle that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the country’s first prime minister, led. Recently, Bangladesh’s foreign secretary came to India and met his Indian counterpart. It has been decided that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Dhaka on March 26th and the next day, there will be a bilateral meeting between the two countries.
Devendra Fadnavis might be down politically at the moment, but he is finding ways to be useful for his party. BJP has steadily lost ground in Maharashtra, the recent example being the poor showing in the panchayat polls. But Fadnavis proved his skills at backroom manipulation in persuading Anna Hazare to call off his proposed fast in support of the farmers’ protests. Amit Shah had told Fadnavis to talk to Hazare personally and Fadnavis managed to dissuade Hazare.
Is Jyotiraditya Scindia still waiting for a Cabinet berth or busy with Madhya Pradesh politics? He has become very active in the Gwalior and Chambal areas of the state, doing padayatras and political meetings. He also went to Morena, the Lok Sabha constituency of Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. Twenty-five people had died there recently after drinking poisonous liquor. Scindia met the affected families and gave Rs 50,000 to each of them. He also assured strong action by the state government against the accused. But it is being said Tomar was not happy about this ‘encroachment’ on his territory.
The CD Rumour
Over the past few months, there have been whispers in Karnataka’s political circles about a CD. Nobody knows its content but every BJP leader thinks it is detrimental to Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa. After he expanded his cabinet last month, these rumours have peaked. The first time talk about the CD started was in November 2020 after Yediyurappa’s grandnephew and political secretary, NR Santosh, was hospitalised, it is believed, after an attempt at suicide. Now it is being gossiped that Yediyurappa accommodated leaders in his cabinet who were threatening him with the CD.
Name of the Game
In Maharashtra politics, Aurangzeb has become a flashpoint for the ruling alliance. The Shiv Sena wants to rename Aurangabad, which is named after the Mughal emperor. They want it called Sambhajinagar, after the son of the Maratha emperor Shivaji. The Congress is not in favour of it. Sena’s mouthpiece Saamana criticised the Congress in strong language for Muslim appeasement. Sharad Pawar, who leads the Nationalist Congress Party, the third partner in the coalition, has not revealed his stand on the issue so far.
In South Block, officials in the Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of External Affairs are busy speculating on a Kashmiri shawl. Recently, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman chaired a meeting wearing a shahtoosh shawl and the image went viral as a fashion statement. Since the shawl is banned in India and its possession is punishable, no one still knows where Salman got it. Indian bureaucrats are scratching their heads over this.