The election of BJP party president is supposed to take place in January and JP Nadda is expected to formally take charge. But there is demand now that Amit Shah should continue as party president. Considering the recent debacles in several states, many think that he needs to be officially in charge. But can he also be the Home Minister then? There is no official rule on one-man, one-post in the party. Meanwhile, it is also being said that there could be a Cabinet reshuffle after the Budget Session.
Fight for Delhi
While Amit Shah has started to take an active interest in the Delhi election campaign, many BJP leaders confess in secret that the plot is already lost. There is little confidence internally. They think that Modi’s popularity remains undiminished but in state elections, different dynamics play out. The BJP knows that the Aam Aadmi Party has an upper hand but Shah’s instruction is to take the challenge head on and fight till the end. Meanwhile, the BJP has decided to give seats that Akali Dal and Dushyant Chautala-led Jannayak Janta Party are asking for in order to contest together. Chautala wants 10 seats, the Akalis six. The BJP thinks that this will help them get Sikh and Jat votes. But state party leaders are very reluctant to give away so many seats.
Highlight the Work
Some of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) top brass think that social media activities and fake news against the party are getting the upper hand after the happenings in Jamia Millia and Jawaharlal Nehru University. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi is apparently still not keen to counter this activism. Recently, in a Cabinet meeting, he emphasised that the good works of ministries should be highlighted to the media. As Information and Broadcasting Minister, Prakash Javadekar is playing a pivotal role in this.
All Must Contest
Now that Sheila Dikshit is no more, the Congress needs a Brahmin leader. It is said to be one reason why Kirti Azad was made the election campaign committee chairman. Earlier, Azad used to be a BJP MLA from the Gole Market constituency. Then he became an MP from Dhanbad, Bihar and Darbhanga, Jharkhand. After joining the Congress, he stood from Dhanbad and lost. Besides him, Janardan Dwivedi and Sandip Dikshit could be the other Brahmin faces of the Congress in Delhi. Sonia Gandhi wants all senior Congress leaders, including former ministers, to contest. Many of them are, however, not very confident of winning.
Recently, at a meeting of the foreign affairs cell in the BJP headquarters, the party made a core group to reactivate engagements with countries abroad. The head of the cell, Vijay Chauthaiwale, will be in charge of the US and other important countries. The party gave budgetary support to the cell so that designated leaders can travel more. There was also a view that External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar cancelling meetings with American officials should not be a regular practice. While it was true that the message being sent was that India was not subordinate to big powers, it seems to be copying China’s model and that might not be good in the long run.
Farewell to Bandhs
When all trade unions called the Bharat Bandh on January 1st, many opposition parties participated, including the Congress and the Left. Interestingly, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee kept the Trinamool Congress away from the bandh. So it didn’t have much success in West Bengal. While Mamata claimed in principle to support the cause of the bandh, she thought restoring the work culture of the state was more important. Once upon a time, she was the face of bandhs in the state but that seems like a distant memory now.
The Euro Channel
A second team of European diplomats visited Kashmir recently and it was organised by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. The Government went to great lengths to ensure that the controversies of the first visit, which had been unofficial, were avoided. Some of those who went then had later criticised the manner in which the tour had been conducted. Raisina Dialogue, the conference on geopolitics, will start on January 14th and the Government wanted to correct the faultlines created by the first team before that. While they had all been outsiders, this time the European Union ambassadors taken to Kashmir were based in Delhi. Doval planned it with the support of Vikas Swarup, Secretary (West) at the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The MEA thinks before the Prime Minister’s Davos visit, the Kashmir visit of the EU ambassadors will be complementary.
Missing in Government
One of the curiosities of the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress coalition government in Maharashtra is the fate of Prithviraj Chavan. A former Congress Chief Minister, he had been active during government formation and it was said that he was keen to become Speaker or a minister. But none of that transpired and that is strange because he is considered to be close to Sonia Gandhi. The reason could be that the Maratha leader will now be made the state Congress president.