On November 21st, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh went to the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi to mark the country’s Armed Forces Day, making him the first defence minister to visit the high commission. Singh was accompanied by former Vice Chief of Army Staff VP Malik. All three service chiefs of Bangladesh were there. It was a full house with several Indian diplomats and European ambassadors. After the attack on mi•norities in Bangladesh, Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) representatives came to the high commission and submitted a memorandum against the Dhaka govern•ment. We also hear of some organisations shouting slogans against Bangladesh in front of the high com•mission. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, wants a good equation with Dhaka, and there is talk that Singh will be going there soon. Even President Ram Nath Kovind is bound for Dhaka.
Actor Kangana Ranaut is now a film producer, and it is learnt that she is currently working on a script on Indira Gandhi and the Emergency era—to be released before the 2024 General Election. It is also no secret that she is close to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and could even contest the Lok Sabha polls from the Mumbai South constituency in 2024. Does that explain why she’s taking up political films? Earlier this year, she also took on the role of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in Thalaivi.
Cutting the Flab
Smriti Irani’s social media handles and public appearances bear testimony to her lean avatar. We hear that she has cut down 30 kg by following a strict exercise regimen and dieting. Some of her party leaders are said to have inspired her to shake off the flab. They, too, it is believed, take to the gym regularly.
After announcing the repeal of the farm laws, is it possible that the Modi Government can withdraw the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and restore Article 370 in Kashmir? There are murmurs in a section of the opposition about such a possibility. But the Government does not intend to do so, confirms BJP’s social media unit.
After the announcement of the repeal of the farm laws, will the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) again join the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)? Straws in the wind suggest an effort is underway for a coalition between former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, SAD and BJP. It is difficult to go it alone in Punjab and SAD has realised this the hard way, even by wooing Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party earlier. The question now is whether BJP is ready for the alliance.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 17th. Prior to the meeting, Banerjee was keen on giving Modi a gift and learnt that he was fond of Kashmiri shawls. So, she gifted him a shawl, Bengali sweets and flowers. Banerjee’s outreach comes at a time when the chief ministers of Kerala, Odisha and Tamil Nadu, too, have been seen maintaining cordial relations with the Centre.
Vasundhara Raje is busy with her Rajasthan pilgrimage. She is visiting all the wellknown temples in the state—from the Sanwariaji Temple of Chittorgarh to the Tripura Sundari Temple at Umrai. But tongues have started wagging too—is it really a pilgrimage or is there a political design to Raje’s temple-hopping? It is understood that the BJP and RSS leadership are not happy with her. Yet, there is speculation about her role in the upcoming Rajasthan Assembly polls. BJP leaders, meanwhile, remain mum on this pilgrim’s progress.
Pen is Mightier
Pawan Varma, the former diplomat, author and Janata Dal (United) leader, signed up with the Trinamool Congress and met Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee in Delhi. But what caught everyone’s attention were Varma’s books—Ghalib: The Man, The Times; The Great Indian Middle Class; and Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker—which he carried with him to the meeting. Along with Trinamool leader Abhishek Banerjee, the trio had wide-ranging discussions until they reached a consensus on secularism. It all points to Varma’s utility in Trinamool’s anti-BJP campaign for the 2024 General Election.
The Prime Minister’s Office has issued an advisory to all the ministers that if they go abroad, the secretaries need to be in Delhi. And If secretaries go out of town, the minister should be in the capital. The advisory was issued so that ministry work could go on seamlessly.
Back to the Block
For a long time, the prime minister was not using the South Block office. Instead, he used to run his office from 7 Lok Kalyan Marg. But nowadays, Narendra Modi is seen in South Block after lunch, mostly on weekdays. He does most of his official meetings in South Block.