LOK SABHA ELECTIONS 2019: INDIA DECIDES

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The writer is a Delhi-based journalist.

Prez’s daughter and the prodigal son

Published Jan 18, 2015, 11:36 am IST
Updated Mar 30, 2019, 12:16 am IST
Sharmistha Mukherjee (Photo: Video grab)
 Sharmistha Mukherjee (Photo: Video grab)

Sharmistha Mukherjee has proved that she has inherited her father’s political genes. Well before the Congress had finalised the names of candidates for the coming Delhi Assembly elections, posters and hoardings welcoming President Pranab Mukherjee’s daughter’s candidature from Greater Kailash constituency were plastered all over Chittaranjan Park and neighbouring colonies.

Like Mr Mukherjee, who made sure that the Congress leadership had little choice but to name him as the party’s presidential candidate, his daughter too gave the Congress no options. Her name was eventually cleared in the third list which was put out last week. Having crossed the first hurdle of getting the party ticket, Ms Mukherjee’s real test begins now as she plunges into the hurly-burly of electoral politics. She faces an uphill task as the Congress is not seen as a serious contender in the Delhi polls.

 

But, if the buzz in Delhi’s political circles is to be believed, the BJP, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is keen that Ms Mukherjee wins this seat and is prepared to do anything to help her. The reason: the unusually cordial relations between the President and the Prime Minister. Mr Modi, in fact, went out of his way to cultivate President Mukherjee even before he came to power and has since made it a point to keep him in good humour. Mr Modi would like to cement this budding friendship further even if it is at the cost of an Assembly seat. It remains to be seen if voters will oblige the PM.

When Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was missing at the party’s foundation day function last month, it was pretty obvious that the Nehru-Gandhi scion had taken off for a vacation yet again. And, as is the case each time he leaves the country, it resulted in a mad guessing game about where Mr Gandhi was holidaying. Names of various exotic locales were doing the rounds.

However, it now transpires that the Congress heir-apparent had not travelled too far. He is said to have gone to an unknown secluded destination in nearby Myanmar for a special meditation course. This is apparently not the first time that Mr Gandhi visited the neighbouring country. Those in the know maintain that he goes to Myanmar for a meditation programme whenever he feels the need to de-stress and find answers to the mountain of problems he faces. Judging by the dismal state of the Congress after its rout in the last general election and the subsequent Assembly polls, Mr Gandhi has sufficient reasons to get away from here. And he certainly has a lot to dwell upon, especially his own and his party’s future.

Columbia University professor and eminent economist Jagdish Bhagwati, who delivered the Madhavrao Scindia Memorial Lecture last week, showed that he has a keen sense of humour. In the course of his talk, Mr Bhagwati could not help making a good-natured jibe at the Scindia family. He was full of praise for the late Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia who, he said, had been a dear friend. He also effusively complimented former minister and Madh-avrao’s son Jyotiraditya Scindia, stating that he was not a rising star but had already “risen” in the Congress.

But then, much to the embarrassment of the Scindia family, Mr Bhagwati went on to recall his acquaintance with Rajasthan chief minister and Jyotiraditya’s estranged aunt Vasundhara Raje, who is firmly in the opposite political camp. While referring to the different political affiliations of the Scindia family members, Mr Bhagwati said that as an economist he admired their astuteness, adding, “You have invested well and chosen good portfolios you will never be at a loss.” While it was all said in jest, it’s not clear whether Mr Scindia appreciated the humour.
 
Even as the BJP leaders are preoccupied with preparations for the crucial Assembly elections in Delhi, a seemingly minor matter has become the topic of an animated discussion in the party. The issue is a traffic signal installed outside the party’s headquarters on Ashoka Road after the formation of a BJP government at the Centre. It became necessary to put the signal in order to facilitate the movement of VIP vehicles. But party members are not happy as it often leads to traffic snarls on the busy road. They are worried that this could make the party unpopular with commuters who get caught in these jams.
The writer is a Delhi-based journalist

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