Patna Vs Delhi
Tit-for-tat is being played out in Bihar. An angry Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has inducted eight new ministers in his Cabinet but ensured not a single one of these is from allies the BJP and the LJP. The new flock, all from his JD(U), is perhaps his way of telling Narendra Modi that it is entirely his (Chief Minister) prerogative too to induct whosoever he wants in his Cabinet. A replay in a way of Prime Minister forming his Cabinet and offering one berth to JD(U), which was a no-go with Nitish. So as in Delhi, Patna too offered a berth to the BJP, but big brother likewise refused. Though the events paint a picture of bitterness with each side engaging in a battle of supremacy, the two partners insist all is hunky dory.
Says Nitish: “Vacancies from JD(U) quota in the Cabinet were empty so JD(U) leaders were inducted, there is no issue with BJP, everything is fine.” His Deputy CM from BJP Sushil Modi, tweeted “Although an offer was made to BJP, it decided to keep the matter pending for future” and “the NDA is united”. LJP chief and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan too chipped in saying: “All is well…Nitish is our leader. Too many conclusions mustn’t be drawn. Moreover, I am there to act as a cementing force.” The last bit is a giveaway. Cement is used to bind the cracks. With 33 ministers of the 36 posts already filled in Bihar, Nitish’s formula of adopting “proportional participation” in government is neither available here too. This one State will keep the Centre guessing. In fact, raise some hope for the battered Opposition.
Maharashtra Starts Ticking
Maharashtra may just get a fresh taste of bickering between the ruling political partners. Within weeks of Lok Sabha polls, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is rearing to go, with 18 MPs making his party the second largest ally of the BJP. Time to demand, as is his trait. Thus, he is said to have placed not one but three key demands before BJP chief Amit Shah: it wants Dy Speaker post in Lok Sabha; ‘weighty’ portfolio for its only minister AG Sawant, who has Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises, which is ‘insignificant’ and more representation in the Government as “a single cabinet berth is disproportionate” to its strength. Obvioulsy taking a cue from JD(U). Be that as it may, the SS could upset BJP’s plans as rumours are that BJD’s senior leader Mahtab may be in the running for the Dy Speaker’s chair. The BJP may be inclined as it’s a “friendly’ party, like the AIADMK in the previous Lok Sabha. Will Parliament session, beginning on 17 June, kick off with fireworks?
UP Alliance Short Lived
The grand alliance in Uttar Pradesh was too good to be true. Alas, it couldn’t last and thus foes-turned-friends, the BSP and SP, decided to put it under suspension on Tuesday last. BSP supremo Mayawati announced her party will fight the 11 ensuing Assembly by-elections (as sitting MLAs became MPs) on its own. Hours later, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said if the alliance has ended then it would field its 11 candidates too. While ‘suspension’ of partnership gives an impression the two have left doors open for a future tie-up, it seems unlikely, given that Mayawati has blamed SP for ‘poor vote transfer and cadre indiscipline’, which led to the ‘game-changing’ alliance turning out to be a damn squib. However, while BSP may blame SP, the fact is that it turned out to be a beneficiary—its seat tally rose from 0 to 10 between 2014 and now. With political compulsions no longer the case, all eyes would be how the two fare singly against the formidable BJP.
It continues to be thumbs up for the KCR’s party in Telangana. Not only has the ruling TRS swept the rural local body elections, but got 12 Congress MLA’s into its fold. It appears that the Lok Sabha polls haven’t made such a dent in KCR’s popularity at least on the home front. Of the 538 Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituencies, the TRS won 449, Congress 75 and BJP only 8. Likewise, in the 5,817 Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituencies, TRS bagged 3,548, Congress 1392 and BJP 208. And while there is jubilation in KCR’s camp, the Congress has plunged into a deeper crisis, with 12 of its MLAs who broke away from the party, resolving to merge with the TRS, thereby escaping the anti-defection law provisions. In December Assembly polls, the Congress won 19 of 119 seats. But today it’s left with just six MLAs as 11 MLAs switched over gradually to the TRS and another one is planning his move too. All 12 MLAs are learnt to have met at TRS working president’s house, held an impromptu legislature party meeting, adopted a resolution of merging with the TRS and finally went to Assembly and submitted a copy to the Speaker. What next?
Punjab’s Bitter War
It’s no longer a war of words in Punjab, but a direct hit. Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh sent a strong message of enough is enough to Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu and divested him of the vital local bodies’ and Tourism and Culture portfolios. But he camouflaged it with a Cabinet reshuffle and gave him Dept of Power and New & Renewable Energy Sources instead. This soon after Sidhu, known for his barbs, skipped the second meeting chaired by the CM and accusing him of singling him out. But Amarinder knows how to play the game as well. He did win the Lok Sabha match for the Congress. However, as he said, he could have done better, but for Sidhu’s remarks on Pakistan and his “inept” handling of local bodies’ dept which led to poor performance in urban areas. Sidhu is bound to be peeved but should thank his stars for not being drooped. He should be cautious. Amarinder has batted only a boundary. A six, going over it, is possible. And who will know this better than Sidhu.
Delhi Woos Women
It’s time again to roll out sops—now for the citizens, or rather women of the nation’s capital, Delhi. With ruling AAP unable to win a single of the seven Lok Sabha seats, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s popularity seems to be on the wane. Thus, with Assembly elections due early next year, he has already kicked off his campaign. That too with a grand announcement— free Delhi Metro and DTC bus rides for women! And though he reasons it out by saying he wants to provide ‘safe travel experience for women in Delhi’, by encouraging them to use public transport, which many aren’t able to afford, who is he trying to fool? It’s the usual vote-catching gimmick. He should spell out how would he ensure safety after the bus or metro ride towards home? Plus, while the DTC will approve his proposal, there’s a big question mark over the metro ride. His government is 50:50 equity partners with the Centre in the DMRC. Catch Modi government obliging, even though the extra financial burden is to be “borne by the AAP government.” Who will take whom for a ride? —INFA