Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sudden trip to Pakistan caught the world by surprise but it was his announcement on Twitter that set the cat among the pigeons. Predictably so, the tweet triggered a media frenzy, with the Indian and Pakistani electronic media scrambling to keep pace with the developments. Some Indian TV reporters sent by their respective channels to Kabul to cover Mr Modi’s visit looked visibly embarrassed when asked on air whether they had any inkling that the Prime Minister would be landing in Lahore. But this was not the first such instance. Mr Modi broke the news on Twitter that US President Barack Obama would be the guest at the 66th Republic Day parade in 2015.
Jogi’s lull suggests a storm Political circles in Chhattisgarh is are abuzz with speculation over a looming “CD” war after the appearance an audio tape suggesting complicity of former chief minister and Congress leader Ajit Jogi and his son Congress MLA Amit Jogi, in fixing the Antagarh Assembly bypoll in connivance with current chief minister Raman Singh’s son-in-law Puneet Gupta.
According to sources, the audio tape was to be leaked a month back, but had to be held back following an alleged threat by the dissident camp to release “40 CDs” to “unmask” some senior Congress leaders in the state found allegedly indulging in corrupt practices.
Barely a day after the cash-for-vote tape expose, another audio tape surfaced suggesting that the party high command has been kept in the loop in the exposure of the alleged involvement of the Jogis in the fixing of the Antagarh byelection to undermine Mr Ajit Jogi’s claims his proximity to 10, Janpath.
Political observers count it as the second salvo against the Jogi camp. But Mr Ajit Jogi appeared unprovoked and was later heard hailing the good show by the Congress in the recently held civic polls to 11 urban bodies in the state. Congress wallahs fear his silence to be the lull before the storm. Amarinder’s new avatar Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh is known for his aggressive style of politics. He likes to take on his political adversaries head on. However, since taking over as PCC chief in November 2015, Mr Singh seems to have mellowed down. Recently, during a media interaction, Mr Singh apologised to former MP Jagmeet Brar for “oversight by stage managers” as it was said that Mr Brar was not provided adequate time to address the Bathinda rally on December 15 when Mr Singh formally took over as state party chief. The former chief minister got up from his seat and warmly hugged Mr Brar. The apology came amid reports that after Congress MLA Sukhpal Khaira, Mr Brar may join the Aam Aadmi Party. Mr Brar, however, announced that he had no such plans and that he was touched by Mr Singh’s gesture. It is believed that Mr Singh’s new avatar is aimed at taking everyone along to a Congress victory in the next Assembly elections.
Immediate returns The five-day long Ayutha Chandi Maha Yagam performed last week by Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao for universal peace and wellbeing has reaped immediate results for landowners around his farmhouse in Erravelli, on the city’s outskirts in Medak district.
Realtors from the city and elsewhere in Telangana are making a beeline to Erravelli to buy land around Mr Rao’s farmhouse. Land which did not fetch even Rs 10 per acre till recently, is now commanding a price of over Rs 50 lakh. Some enthusiastic realtors are willing to offer up to `70 lakh to lure farmers into selling their land.
The tiny village of Erravelli has shot to national and international fame thanks to the Mr Rao’s recent yagam, which was attended by lakhs of people besides scores of VVIPs.
Earlier, the narrow road leading to Erravelli had been widened to 200ft for smooth flow of traffic during the yagam and five helipads were set up for VIPs, contributing to the speculation of a realty boom around Erravelli.
A political Yagam Leaders of various political parties who restraint themselves from talking against Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s Ayutha Chandi Maha Yagam are slowly opening up now that the yagam is over.
Senior Congress leader and MP Gutha Sukender Reddy describes the yagam as a “political yagam”. “Such yagams should be a personal affair. But KCR garu made it a political yagam. He invited right from President of India, Union ministers, leaders of various political parties, MPs, legislators and others. He certainly had a motive in inviting so many political leaders,” he remarked.
Mr Reddy added, “Politicians of various hues and shades attended. KCR may try to benefit from some, and some may benefit from KCR; some joined the yagam out of fear, some for long term and personal gain. Looks like KCR wants to keep everyone in good humour and vice versa.”
Senior Congress leader and MLA D.K. Aruna remarked that KCR should at least change his attitude now after conducting the yagam and stop poaching on legislators and leaders of other parties.
Crooner comrade A hoary state Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader is an old Hindi songs buff. He not only loves to listen to old film melodies, but can sing some lines of a three or four decade-old song to describe any present day political situation. When the CPI(M)-led Left decided to extend outside support to the Manmohan Singh government in 2004, he assured the ruling Congress Party with the peppy Sholay number “Yeh dosti hum nahin todenge...” When CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat forced the Left to withdraw support to UPA-1, he described the painful parting with the sad song “Jis dil mein basa tha pyar tera ” When Mamata Banerjee stormed to power in West Bengal in 2011, our music afficionado sang “Hum chhod chale hain mehfil ko yaad aye kabhi to mat rona...”
So when the CPI(M) organised a plenum in Kolkata last week after 36 years and some state party leaders strongly advocated an alliance with Congress for the 2016 Assembly election on seeing Mr soften his stance on the issue and accepting the need for “flexible tactics”, our leader in his inimitable style sang the Talat Mahmood gem, “Sab kucch luta ke hosh mein aye to kya kiya ”
Oram’s self-goal On the eve of 2014 general elections, Orissa was in the news for two big scams — a mining scam and chit-fund scam that took place under the present Biju Janata Dal government headed by chief minister Naveen Patnaik. There was widespread clamour for a CBI probe into both the scams. Then BJP president Rajnath Singh had assured the people of Orissa during the election campaign that if his party came to power at the Centre, it would ensure a CBI probe.
While the chit fund scam was handed over to the CBI on the Supreme Court’s orders, the mining scam still remains unresolved. And this has given a handle to the Congress, the BJP’s fellow Opposition party in the state to launch an attack saying the saffron party has entered into a secret understanding with the BJD to get its crucial support in Rajya Sabha for the passage of crucial bills. This prompted Union minister of tribal affairs Jual Oram to speak his mind with some straight talk. He said, “My party has shown pity to the BJD by not ensuring CBI probe into the mining scam and it is also going slow in the matter of chit-fund scam. Otherwise, the BJD would have met its doom by now.” Contrary to his intentions, Mr Oram’s statement added credence to the Congress’ charge of a “tacit” understanding between the BJP and BJD. The state and Central BJP leaders, who were charging the BJD on many issues, now find themselves in an awkward position.
DTC’s overdrive The odd-even car scheme in Delhi has brought the issue of non-payment of overtime dues to Delhi Transport Corporation conductors who had been made to work in double shifts by the Congress government during the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the national capital. The AAP government has put 1,500 odd DTC bus conductors on double shift to help private bus owners meticulously follow routes chalked out by the corporation during the 15-day tenure of the odd-even rule. But this time, conductors have been assured that they would be paid each and every penny for working overtime. One such conductor, said his colleagues are apprehensive whether they would be paid their overtime dues. A passenger sitting next to him smiled saying, “Just wait and watch. Kejriwal too may follow in Sheila ji’s footsteps. After all both are in politics now.”
Yadavs rule More and more women from Uttar Pradesh’s first family are breaking out of their domestic shells.Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav’s wife Sadhana Yadav came out on the public platform this week to participate in a programme organised by her younger daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav, in protest against the release of the juvenile convict in the December 16, 2012 rape case. While Ms Sadhana Yadav’s presence was a rare occurrence, what left everyone stunned was that she chose to disagree with her statement that “people” should refrain from making unnecessary statements on crimes related to women. Apparently, this was directed against her own husband’s statement that “boys are boys and they do make mistakes” regarding increasing cases of rape. She also underlined the need for sending the juvenile back to jail.
Rajnath’s record Rajnath Singh is set to make a record of sorts as Union home minister. After having stayed in barracks in tough terrain along the Sino-India border, it now appears Mr Singh is on a mission to visit cut-off areas along the border where no minister has set foot before. The latest in this list is the visit to the Assam border slated for the first week of the New Year, at a time when many are sitting in the capital, meeting visitors and exchanging New Year’s greetings. Instead, Mr Singh has decided to do it differently and meet the jawans on the border. It is not for nothing that the jawans of the paramilitary forces are singing paeans to the minister and the babus organising these visits praising his spirit and fitness.