This summer has been hot in Delhi – politics and the weather – and it threatens to get hotter. Here is a slice of the latest happenings in the Capital, with a feud, a snub, fallout and search for friends.
Yogendra Yadav holds out Haryana threat
The battle-scarred Aam Aadmi Party could miss out the Haryana assembly election totally if it can’t settle the fight between Arvind Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav. The Yadav camp is livid that Kejriwal projected himself as a national leader while Yadav struggled in Gurgaon. Yadav, in particular, was stunned by the brutal reality of Haryana politics where his stints on news television didn’t matter to anyone.
The Jats ignored Yadav who tried everything – including the dubious tactic of calling himself Salim in Muslim areas. Kejriwal and other AAP seniors left Yadav to fend for him and concentrated elsewhere. Yadav came in fourth from Gurgaon, way behind the BJP, the INLD and the Congress. He has since resented being reduced to a nonentity. His campaign managers say the wounds are deep, which is why the spat between Yadav and Kejriwal.
Nothing has been worked out between the two. Things are so bad that the AAP might skip the Haryana election altogether because Yadav sees no chance of him being chief minister. Unless Kejriwal bends, Yadav will not budge. All this made Kejriwal supporter Manish Sisodia ask Yadav if he wanted to kill the party. Haryana was projected as a major catchment area for the AAP. It no longer is.
No takers for Digvijaya Singh
The one-time mentor of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi – Digvijaya Singh – is out in the cold currently. Word has gone out that Singh is like a jinx for the Congress. Although unfair, stuff like this reaches superstitious politicians fast. Singh oversaw the bifurcation of Madhya Pradesh into Chhattisgarh and the residual state. He is the last Congress chief minister of Madhya Pradesh whose term ended more than a decade ago.
The Congress is in doldrums in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh since. Singh was then in-charge of Andhra Pradesh where he actively supported the creation of Telangana. The Congress is now in a shambles in Telangana and the residual state of Andhra Pradesh with no signs of early revival. And then, Singh was mentor and political advisor to Rahul Gandhi. Under Singh’s guidance, Rahul Gandhi led the Congress to its worst performance ever with each passing day adding to its misery. The two have not met for a while. No one cared when Singh said Rahul Gandhi should be Congress leader in parliament.
No one noticed when Singh asked Shashi Tharoor not to be hasty in praise of Modi. Singh was most recently overlooked for the post of Congress Rajya Sabha leader, which went to Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Modi silence hurts
An interesting situation has arisen in the BJP over the fate of former coal secretary PC Parakh’s book Crusader or Conspirator? Coalgate and Other Truths. Vivek Garg, a BJP RTI activist, published the book hoping the BJP would support it for its anti-UPA content.
The BJP backed off because of Parakh’s revelations on BJP seniors Ananthkumar and Dharmendra Pradhan. Garg, meanwhile, printed 50,000 copies of the book. He sensed a blockbuster in election season. Narendra Modi didn’t say a word on Parakh’s book. He spoke instead of Sanjaya Baru’s book on Manmohan Singh which was safe for the BJP. Baru’s book became the year’s biggest seller; Parakh’s effort has not yielded the expected results. Parakh is angry at Garg for not marketing his book as he thought it might have been.
Garg is worried more about the unsold copies returning to him. He had planned to sell about a lakh copies; only 30,000 have sold so far. Garg’s standing in the BJP improved after his 2G success and he sent desperate word to Modi for help on Parakh’s book. Modi refused to bail Garg out. Word is that Modi doesn’t want to embarrass Ananthkumar and Pradhan who are his ministry colleagues now. Modi is also cool to the book because it could raise questions on his choices as ministers.
Mamata looks for Modi friends
Barely weeks ago, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee called Modi a donkey. Mamata’s acolyte and Trinamool Congress spokesperson Derek O’ Brien followed up by calling Modi the ‘Butcher of Gujarat’. Now – with Modi getting stronger each day as prime minister – Mamata is scouting for friends of Modi who might help soften things. Her previous contacts in the NDA are all out of favour with Modi.
LK Advani, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Murli Manohar Joshi can’t help. Jayalalithaa and Naveen Patnaik have changed track on Modi. The only one who could help is Ratan Tata but Mamata has cold vibes for Tata since Singur. Last heard, some of Mamata’s colleagues have asked her to call on Modi as a first step. She hasn’t, so far.