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  Opinion   Columnists  09 Jan 2022  Anita Katyal | Pawar struggle over Speaker’s post; Mahua’s fall from grace

Anita Katyal | Pawar struggle over Speaker’s post; Mahua’s fall from grace

The writer is a Delhi-based journalist.
Published : Jan 9, 2022, 12:37 am IST
Updated : Jan 9, 2022, 12:37 am IST

Is Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar deliberately delaying the election of a new Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly?

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar. (PTI Photo)
 Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar. (PTI Photo)

Is Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar deliberately delaying the election of a new Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly? At least, Congress leaders believe it to be true. Mr Pawar’s party colleague Narhari Zirwal Sitaram has been conducting the Assembly proceedings in his capacity as deputy Speaker in the absence of a Speaker and the NCP chief would prefer this arrangement to continue. The Speaker’s post, allocated to the Congress, has been lying vacant for nearly a year after the last incumbent Congress leader Nana Patole resigned. Both the Shiv Sena and the NCP opposed the election of a new Speaker in the last Budget and Monsoon Sessions on some pretext or the other as the two parties were upset with their coalition partner Congress for pulling out Mr Patole without informing them. The NCP and Sena finally agreed to the Congress request for the Speaker’s election in the Winter Session but Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari did not give his consent for the election on technical grounds. The government initially said it would challenge the governor’s action but eventually decided against it. The Congress is convinced that its allies are not playing straight with it.

BJP’s firebrand Lok Sabha member Tejasvi Surya, who is also the president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, has acquired a love for the camera, not very different from his party leaders. While planning a BJYM programme to be held at the Vivekananda Rock, Kanya Kumari, later this month, Mr Surya made two basic requests: he wanted a good photographer for coverage and a good driver for the trip. The young MP dwelt at length on how it was imperative that the photographs of the proposed function were of top quality with perfect colour resolution and asked his colleagues to scout around for a suitable candidate for this job. Similarly, Mr Surya said, he wanted a reliable driver for his car since he had a poor experience on an earlier occasion.

Here, he cited the example of a good pilot who knows how to land a plane smoothly, saying he wanted someone similar who could be trusted to do the same with a car. Neha Joshi, BJYM president, volunteered for the job.

Lok Sabha member Mahua Moitra and poll strategist Prashant Kishor were known to be West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s top favourites.

While Mr Kishor was brought back to aid the Trinamul Congress’ expansion plans, Ms Moitra was rewarded with the charge of poll-bound Goa. But the two appear to have fallen from grace. Mr Kishor, it is learned, has been asked not to give too many interviews as Mamata Banerjee has not taken kindly to statements by recent entrants to the Trinamul Congress that they were approached by Mr Kishor to join the party. Ms Moitra was pulled up by Mamata Banerjee at a public meeting last month and removed as the party’s Nadia district president for encouraging factionalism in the area. Similarly, there have been innumerable complaints from Trinamul Congress leaders from Goa about Ms Moitra’s overbearing behavior. Her position has now been undermined as the party has appointed Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev and former MLA Sourav Chakraborty as co-in-charges in Goa.

The factional battle in the Haryana unit of the Congress has got progressively worse over the past few months. Former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has been on the warpath ever since his bete noire Selja was appointed president of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee.

But there has been no holding him back ever since he joined the ranks of Congress rebels who dashed off a letter to party president Sonia Gandhi pressing for an organisational overhaul and a full-time president. Mr Hooda essentially wants his son Deependra Hooda or his loyalist to replace Ms Selja as Haryana Congress chief. Like the other senior party rebel Ghulam Nabi Azad who has been demonstrating his strength in his home state of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Hooda is doing the same in Haryana to press home his point. He has launched a public outreach programme titled “vipaksh aapke samaksh” across the state along with his party loyalists, including a large number of legislators. While Mr Hooda is busy addressing public meetings, the Congress has distanced itself from his programme, saying there is nothing official about it.

Urban development minister Hardeep Puri is under tremendous pressure these days for it is his responsibility to ensure that the ongoing construction work on the iconic Rajpath is completed in time for the Republic Day parade on January 26. The Rajpath, which currently resembles a war zone, has been ripped apart for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet Central Vista project. Mr Puri is stated to be so tense that he visits the site several times during the day to oversee the work. Very often he even goes up to the terrace of Nirman Bhavan, housing his ministry offices, and uses a set of binoculars to survey the progress. With the deadline for the project fast approaching, Mr Puri has reason to be nervous as he can ill-afford to fail.

Tags: sharad pawar, maharashtra assembly, tejasvi surya, prashant kishor, mahua moitra
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi