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  Close encounters

Close encounters

Published : Sep 30, 2013, 10:11 am IST
Updated : Nov 29, 2016, 11:22 pm IST

Kumar’s revelations gave the rival Rashtriya Janata Dal an opportunity to criticise the CM.


The lotus connection

While Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s aversion for Narendra Modi over 2002 communal riots in Gujarat is well known, his secular credentials remain a political hot potato due to his long association with the Bharatiya Janata Party, his sensational breaking of ties with the saffron party notwithstanding. Although he managed to have the BJP in Bihar dance to his tunes during seven years of coalition rule, those who know him very closely for a long time are still in doubt. “I was more than surprised when he joined hands with the BJP and people started telling him that he was sitting in the lap of the BJP,” said Mr Kumar’s former teacher at Bihar Engineering College, Prof. Santosh Kumar, recently. “He used to answer his critics by saying: ‘I am not sitting in their lap. They are sitting in my lap’,” said Prof. Kumar at a ceremony in Patna where Mr Kumar, a trained engineer, was presented with the “Abhiyanta Ratna” (Jewel among Engineers) award. While Mr Kumar did not come personally to receive the award, his teacher left a tantalising question mark on his “political honesty,” saying it was difficult to say anything on the issue. Prof. Kumar’s revelations gave the rival Rashtriya Janata Dal an opportunity to criticise the CM. Pointing to an observation by the CM’s former teacher that Mr Kumar, as a student, was “known to settle fights among his peers”, RJD leaders claim that Mr Kumar is still secretly with the BJP and predict that he would return to the NDA if the coalition gets a majority in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Only time will tell whether the RJD is reading too much between the lines.


*** Spoken too soon When BJP MLA Sangeet Som, arrested in connection with the Muzaffarnagar riots was taken to the Orai jail, the jailor greeted him with folded hands and a constable gave a salute to the legislator. Within hours, the photograph went viral on the Internet and the TV channels rushed to Samajwadi Party leaders for their reaction. Uttar Pradesh jail minister and state Samajwadi Party spokesman Rajendra Choudhury put on a profound expression and said that he would order a probe into the incident and initiate action against the official if he was found guilty. Around the same time, SP general secretary Ram Asrey Kushwaha told reporters in Kanpur that the inquiry against the jailor was already underway and action would be announced soon. The same day, home secretary D.S. Sharma rubbished the reports and said that wishing a MLA did not amount to any violation of service rules or any crime. “Sangeet Som is still an MLA and has yet to be proved guilty. There is nothing wrong if the jailor wished him or a constable saluted him,” the home secretary said. After this, the two SP leaders who claimed that an inquiry is underway have chosen to remain underground.


*** The great fall The fiery speech given almost in one breath by former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi at a tribal meet at Jagdalpur in Bastar on September 26, was seen in the Congress circle as the last ditch effort by the veteran leader, currently sidelined in the party, to return to the good books of 10 Janpath. Since AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi was also present, Mr Jogi perhaps was not in a mood to miss the golden opportunity to impress the Gandhi scion. Ironically, the address appeared to have proved his nemesis. Mr Jogi began his speech in an unconventional manner pleading the gathering not to hail him with “Ajit Jogi zindabad” slogan. Then he went on to throw light on his illustrious career as an engineer, then an IPS officer and later as a Rajya Sabha MP, then a Lok Sabha MP and, finally, as the first chief minister of Chhattisgarh. He expressed his gratitude to the Nehru-Gandhi family for success in his political career. What undid him, according to his rival camp, was his “subtle attack” on his reported rival and Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee president Charan Das Mahant, who enjoyed Mr Gandhi’s confidence, while ending his speech. “Mr Mahant has spent so much money to build the tents for the occasion. You all should shout slogans in favour of Rahul Gandhi in such a high pitch that the tents would blow up”, he told the gathering apparently chiding the PCC chief. But Mr Jogi was in for a rude shock when Mr Gandhi started his speech by first addressing the leaders present on the dais and mentioned Mr Jogi’s name towards the fag end. The message was clear and loud and, of course, Mr Jogi’s rivals have a reason to smile. Didn’t we say think twice before you speak


*** A foreign campaigner If speeches of Gaurav Gogoi in Mising Autonomous Council elections are any indicator, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi and his party is set to get a new election campaigner soon. It is no longer a secret that Junior Gogoi is getting married to his British girlfriend Elizabeth Colebourn in October. Ms Colebourn, who studied at the London School of Economics, met Junior Gogoi in New York in 2010 while interning with the sanctions committee of United Nations Secretariat. As Mr Tarun Gogoi is busy in selecting a perfect venue for the marriage ceremony in New Delhi in October, Junior Gogoi is devoting most of his time campaigning for the party in the local body elections. In one of such meeting on Friday, Junior Gogoi while addressing a rural crowd said, “You are going to have your buwari (daughter-in-law) amidst you very soon. She loves Mising culture. You will have to educate her.” Welcomed by thunderous clapping, Junior Gogoi doesn’t hesitate in hiding the love of his bride for Assamese culture and tradition. Like a seasoned politician, he asked the womenfolk in the audience to promise him to educate the “Buwari” about the local culture and traditions. Whether a British campaigner will propel the party’s poll prospects remains to be seen.


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