Anita Katyal | Is BJP grooming Shami for polls? Maurya sent to clip Yogi wings?
Is the Bharatiya Janata Party preparing the new cricketing star, Mohammed Shami, for a political career? This is being avidly discussed in Delhi’s political circles following a series of recent incidents. After his spectacular performance in the recent World Cup series, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, not known to be partial to members of the minority community, declared that a cricket stadium would be constructed at Shami’s native village in Amroha. Then, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a point of hugging Shami when he visited the cricket team’s dressing room to console its members after they lost the final. The PM’s publicists ensured the photograph went viral. Last week, Shami was the star attraction at the “Iglas” programme hosted by the BJP’s national spokesperson Anil Baluni. Shami was especially escorted to meet Union home minister Amit Shah who blessed him and asked him to get down to work. The buzz is that Shami could be promoted by the BJP to take on Danish Ali of the Bahujan Samaj Party, the present Lok Sabha member from Amroha.
Though the Madhya Pradesh election is long over, chatter about the poll campaign has not died down. Former and present students of Indore’s prestigious Day College are busy speculating about the possible winners, particularly since 12 former students, representing both the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress, contested these elections. As expected, the school alumni is divided on political lines, between a Congress camp loyal to Digvijaya Singh and a BJP camp led by the Dewas royal family of the late Tukoji Rao Puar (former BJP leader whose wife Gayatri Puar is a BJP candidate from Dewas). The run-up to the election witnessed some absurd fights on the school WhatsApp groups between rival camps with some going as far as to rake up old stories about the candidates when they were students like who habitually borrowed money for tuck and never returned the cash, and who was the school bully and has not changed.
There has been considerable speculation in Lucknow’s political circles ever since Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya was not seen alongside chief minister Yogi Adityanath at the Deepotsav programme organised on Diwali day at Ayodhya. He was also absent from the first Cabinet meeting held at Ayodhya earlier this month. The official explanation given was that Mr Maurya was busy with scheduled election meetings in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh though the same could not be said about the deputy chief minister not showing up for the grand Diwali show at Ayodhya. It is said that this is but a reflection of the tense relations between Yogi and Mr Maurya. It is also believed that Mr Maurya is being encouraged to needle Yogi by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s central leadership, as it does not want anyone to eclipse Prime Minister Narendra Modi and take ownership of the Ram Temple project. Mr Modi will be leading the consecration ceremony at the under-construction Ram Temple at Ayodhya on January 22.
The four-time Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has reason to worry about his political future. With the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership indicating that Mr Chouhan is unlikely to get another term in case of a victory, there is uncertainty about the party’s plans for him. The experience of other former BJP chief ministers does not hold out much hope for Mr Chouhan. Except for former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa, who remains politically relevant long after he left office, the experience of other former BJP chief ministers does not hold out much hope for Mr Chouhan. For instance, where are Uma Bharati, D.V. Sadananda Gowda, Jagadish Shettar and Basavaraj Bommai today? There is literally no trace of them as they appear to have disappeared without a trace. The big question is whether the party will acknowledge Mr Chouhan’s contribution and rehabilitate him honourably or will he meet the same fate as other former chief ministers.
Meanwhile in Karnataka, the proposed alliance between the BJP and the Janata Dal (S) is on shaky ground following the appointment of former Karnataka chief minister Yediyurappa’s son B.Y. Vijayendra as state party chief as well as his loyalist R.Ashoka as leader of opposition in the Assembly. According to the political grapevine, the alliance was being pushed by B.L. Santosh, a known Yediyurappa baiter, but now that the former has lost out to his bete noire, there is a possibility that the pact could unravel. The former chief minister, who is a commanding figure of the Lingayat community, believes the party does not need to pander to the Vokkaliga caste base of the JD(S) and that the BJP is capable of recovering lost ground on its own. There is also a rethink in the JD(S) about this alliance now that B.L. Santosh has been sidelined. It is clear Mr Yediyurappa will call the shots in the run-up to the next year’s Lok Sabha elections as he has demonstrated that he remains a force to reckon with. The BJP Central leadership has, over the years, tried to marginalise him but to no avail. After losing the state in the last Assembly polls, the party has finally surrendered to him.