Reporters' diary: Bihar’s battle royale

Statement has since triggered strong reactions from both JD(U) & Rashtriya Janata Dal camps

A shrewd defence

Orissa agriculture minister Pradeep Maharathy is a crafty politician who can play any character to seek attention. The Biju Janata Dal muscleman, who faced many criminal cases during his youth for bloody battles against the political opponents, recently tried to pose as a pious devotee of Lord Jagannath. When the holy neem wood called Daru was being taken from Jagatisinghpur to the pilgrim city of Puri via Pipili, the Assembly constituency of Mr Maharathy — he dressed himself as Daitapati. Wearing a dhoti and white ganji (vest), the minister climbed on to a bullock cart that was accompanying the Daru procession. He knew his new avatar will be caught by television channels and give him wide publicity.

His calculation went wrong. Instead of getting praise and publicity, the public as well as leaders from Opposition parties like the Congress and the BJP criticised him. They questioned how the minister was allowed by the priests to climb the Daru cart which was restricted to designated carriers. As the Opposition urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to sack him from his position, Mr Maharathy swung into damage control mode.

“I did not climb the cart to showcase my power as minister, but to surrender myself before Lord Jagannath as a porter. The cart that I climbed was loaded with old clothes of the priests and food items. I just acted as porter to carry the clothes. Does a minister do such work? If carrying the old clothes as porter is a mistake, then I admit that I have committed it,” he said. The Opposition seemed calmed after Mr Maharathy’s shrewd reply and stopped baying for his blood.

Electoral chest-thumping

With bihar Assembly elections round the corner political opponents are unleashing offensive language against each other. The most recent came from Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) state president and MP Arun Kumar when he threatened to physically hurt Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Mr Arun Kumar, while addressing a joint press conference of the National Democratic Alliance in Patna, on June 27, alleged that Janta Dal (United) history-sheeter MLA Anant Singh’s arrest was an outcome of hatred for a particular upper caste community and said “we are not wearing bangles and can even break Chief Minister’s chest (chhati tod dengey) for targeting and hurting one particular caste”.

The statement has since triggered strong reactions from both the JD(U) and Rashtriya Janata Dal camps. RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav replied to Mr Kumar’s statement saying that “such comments are an outcome of frustration in the NDA camp”. A case was filed by JD(U) leader Chandrika Prasad Yadav against Mr Arun Kumar for his statement. In his complaint, the JD(U) leader also mentioned statements made by expelled RJD leader Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav for calling RJD chief Mr Lalu Yadav Duryodhan and Kans. In his complaint the JD(U) leader stated that such comments were made with an intention to spread tension. The bad blood at the beginning of the election season points to the high political stakes in Bihar.

Jogi ain’t the real boss

It is official now. The Congress high command does not recognise parallel power centre in its Chhattisgarh unit. PCC president Bhupesh Baghel is the real boss “for all purposes” in Chhattisgarh. The “point” was made by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in an assertive but unconventional manner, apparently targeting veteran leader and former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, to end seemingly unending bickering in the beleaguered party. It, of course, needed a “public snub” by the party chieftain to set to rest the long-held notions among the Congressmen in the state on Mr Jogi’s reported “proximity” to AICC president Sonia Gandhi.

The Congress heir apparent had sent the message to his partymen through a “gesture” when he was holding a “chaupal” (interaction with villagers) with farmers facing displacement due to various projects at Madanpur in Korba district in Chhattisgarh in June. It all happened when Mr Jogi had created a scene at the event when he was denied a place on the dais by special protection guards (SPGs). However, he was later allowed to share the stage with Mr Gandhi following the latter’s intervention. Just when Mr Jogi was moving towards Mr Gandhi riding on his wheelchair, apparently eyeing a seat beside him, the Congress vice-president gesticulated at Mr Baghel to occupy the chair placed by his side.

Mr Jogi had to contend with the seating arrangement that denied him to sit close to Mr Gandhi. The next day, Mr Jogi, who used to flaunt his “proximity” to Mrs Gandhi stating that she was the sole adjudicator of his political fate, appeared reconciled to working under Mr Baghel’s leadership.
The PCC president should take everyone along with him, he quipped.

Media, the sole opposition

After winning the Basirhat Assembly bypoll in West Bengal, the Bharatiya Janata Party seems overambitious. While the state BJP president Rahul Sinha declared that the BJP had emerged as the principal Opposition party, Surjya Kanta Mishra, CPM’s state secretary and politburo member said that the BJP was day-dreaming. These claims and counter-claims gave birth to a controversy over who was the main Opposition.

When Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee recently appeared on a television show titled Jantar Durbar, she was asked which party did she consider her main opponent: The CPM or the BJP. Ms Banerjee came up with a clever reply and said that at present it was a section of the media which was behaving like the Opposition party.
It is no secret that a section of the media in the state has been hostile to the Mamata Banerjee government for a long time. That Didi has “elevated” them to the level of Opposition came as a surprise.


Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi and Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Guwahati Bijoya Chakravarty are friends since their college days but get bitter whenever they are on a public forum. The latest instance of this bitterness came when Ms Chakravarty suggested that Mr Gogoi go to a mental hospital for his treatment so that he could see things in the right prospective. Ms Chakravarty was rebutting Mr Gogoi’s charges that “the people of Assam have seen the BJP government at the Centre in the last one year. They made so many promises before the Lok Sabha elections but took a U-turn on most of them.”

Mr Gogoi then quickly responded and thanked his old friend, Ms Chakravarty, for advising him to go for the treatment of his mental health, but added a twist by saying, “Let us hope, a similar situation will not arise with her.”

Birthday blues

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, also called “Bhaiyyaji” by his followers likes to guard his personal life. The chief minister is averse to celebrating his birthdays — he has two: one official and one actual — and shuns public celebration of all sorts on the occasion.

Ever since he became Chief Minister, party workers have been trying to outdo each other in celebrating Bhaiyyaji’s official birthday on July 1 but Bhaiyyaji has been firmly turning down all such requests. That, however, did not stop party workers from putting up hoardings wishing Bhaiyyaji on his birthday. Mr Yadav’s Facebook page was also brimming over with birthday wishes from his friends, followers and supporters but the chief minister did not respond to any of them.

Incidentally, his uncle, Prof. Ram Gopal Yadav, celebrated his birthday barely two days ago in Delhi with a grand function and a book release. They may be family but their views on celebrating birthdays are surely different when it comes to birthdays.

( Source : deccan chronicle )
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