The late Arun Jaitley had been a versatile person with interests ranging from law and politics to cricket. And he was successful on every front. In cricket, he headed the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA). His son Rohan Jaitley could now take on that mantle. He is not in politics but, when it comes to cricket, he has filed his nomination for the DDCA election. He is contesting to be its president. The association has a number of factions and he could emerge as a consensus candidate. A lawyer himself, Rohan used to play cricket as a student. Meanwhile, there are reports that his elder sister Sonali, also a practising lawyer, might be interested in joining politics. She is already active in social service.
Usually, the relationship between a Cabinet minister and his minister of state (MoS) is a rough one, with the latter often ignored. But there appears to be a notable exception. Prakash Javadekar has a number of portfolios that include information and broadcasting (I&B), and environment. Babul Supriyo is MoS for environment. But in Parliament, Javadekar lets him answer questions on not just environment but I&B too. On several occasions, whenever Javadekar has held press conferences, he has invited Supriyo along. Also, Covid cases being very high in the environment ministry, with both the secretary and joint secretary having tested positive, Supriyo has become Javadekar’s Man Friday in their absence.
Just One Temple
Following the Supreme Court judgment on Ayodhya, some enthusiastic Vishva Hindu Parishad leaders issued statements that reclaiming the Kashi and Mathura mosques as temples would be next on the agenda. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has, however, told senior BJP leaders not to emphasise these issues. The Prime Minister’s Office thinks construction of the Ayodhya temple and development of the area will take at least three years and must be accorded full priority. In Ayodhya, a separate mosque is also being built and the first donation for its construction actually came from a Hindu family who sent a cheque of Rs 21,000.
There is strain in the relationship between Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar and the BJP. Though Devendra Fadnavis, former Maharashtra Chief Minister, has been made BJP’s Bihar in-charge for the election, Bhupender Yadav wields enormous power. He is trying to keep the relationship with Nitish on track. He is also said to be behind the recent statement by the BJP that Nitish would continue to be Chief Minister even if the JD(U) got fewer seats than the BJP.
Not My Problem
Gupteshwar Pandey, former director general of police in Bihar, who took early retirement in the hope of contesting the election and joined the JD(U), found the party not giving him a ticket from Buxar, his chosen constituency. Instead, Nitish Kumar gave it to a police constable. Gossip says that Nitish never promised Pandey a ticket, and instead told the BJP to do it.
Vikas Swarup, the secretary (West) in the foreign ministry, wrote a book called Q&A which was made into the movie Slumdog Millionaire. Unusual for a high-ranking bureaucrat, he recently made an appearance in Kaun Banega Crorepati, hosted by Amitabh Bachchan. He and Bachchan share something in common in having their roots in Allahabad. Apparently, it was Bachchan who invited him to the show.
In Bihar, all eyes are on Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Chirag Paswan. He pulled off a surprise by giving a ticket to Rajendra Singh, who used to be with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. People are wondering how he became Chirag’s candidate. Some say that after his father Ram Vilas Paswan’s death, Modi himself is mentoring Chirag. The big question now is whether he will rejoin the National Democratic Alliance after the elections or the BJP will give him a Rajya Sabha seat.
The man who is trying to get the Covid-19 vaccine to India as soon as possible, whenever it becomes ready, is Dr Randeep Guleria, head of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. He used to be Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s personal doctor when he was Prime Minister and now monitors Narendra Modi’s health. He is interacting with medical professionals at the World Health Organization, in other countries and also pharmaceutical companies to ensure India gets the vaccines on priority.
Film actress Khushbu Sundar left the Congress, whose spokesperson she was, to join the BJP in Tamil Nadu because the leadership, she claimed, had not been using her talent properly. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has asked senior leaders why women politicians were leaving the party. Earlier, Priyanka Chaturvedi, who had been Congress spokesperson in Maharashtra, had joined the Shiv Sena. The Congress tried to retain Khushbu by telling her that the Tamil Nadu election is imminent and the DMK-Congress alliance may come to power. But Khushbu refused to stay.
After the departure of the Akali Dal from the Union Cabinet and the death of LJP’s Ram Vilas Paswan, the only NDA minister other than from the BJP is Ramdas Athawale. There are, therefore, rumours about a Cabinet expansion and reshuffle. With Paswan no more, there are expected to be more entrants from Bihar, especially in the light of the state elections. West Bengal BJP leaders Dilip Ghosh and Mukul Roy are also waiting for Cabinet berths.