Jyotiraditya Scindia. (DC)
A new "bua-bhatija team" is emerging. Not in Uttar Pradesh but in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh. Former minister Uma Bharti, who is keen on returning to the political centrestage, is currently warming up to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s new recruit Jyotiraditya Scindia. After taking on her old bete noire Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in an attempt to carve a place for herself in state politics, Ms Bharti is on the lookout for allies. She has, therefore, sought out Mr Scindia in the fight for her political revival. Uma Bharti has old ties with the royal family of Gwalior since she was initiated into politics by Rajmata Vijay Raje Scindia. On his part, Jyotiraditya has reciprocated the gesture. On a recent visit to Bhopal for a meeting with the chief minister, Mr Scindia dropped in on Uma Bharti for a lengthy discussion a day before his official appointment. This naturally created a buzz in the state’s political circles. The bonhomie between the two was evident as the erstwhile Maharaja spoke publicly about his family's ties with Ms Bharti. Uma Bharti also spoke in the same vein.
Each time Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears in the attire and headgear of a state he is visiting, it invariably leads to a heated discussion about whether these have any impact on the people of that region. Kumar Ketkar, former journalist and Congress Rajya Sabha member, believes it is difficult to fathom which sartorial choices appeal to people for there’s no hard and fast rule about this. He cites Jawaharlal Nehru and Babasaheb Ambedkar in this regard. Nehru, he said, came from a Westernised and privileged background but chose to wear achkan and churidar pyjamas. People accepted him wholeheartedly. Ambedkar, on the other hand, had humble origins and came from a poor disadvantaged family. But after his stint abroad, he opted for the Western suit and tie which was his staple wear. And yet the oppressed castes, whose cause he espoused, revered him. It is tough to explain this paradox, says Mr Ketkar.
Emboldened after the Aam Aadmi Party’s stupendous performance in Punjab, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has begun preparations on expanding his party’s footprint in Himachal Pradesh and Haryana which go to polls next. As a first step, massive advertisements have already started appearing in the newspapers and on television channels in these states. The campaign’s focus is on the Kejriwal government’s "Delhi model" and its achievements in the health and education sectors. Media owners are being approached with offers of lucrative deals. Since the AAP is yet to put together a party organisation, it is depending on its ad campaign to attract both workers and voters in the poll-bound states. Meanwhile, Mr Kejriwal is making sure that the new Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann does not overshadow him. It is learnt that Mr Mann has been "advised" not to hold any press conferences but to publicise his policy decisions on social media or through video messages.
Charanjit Singh Channi and Harish Rawat, the two faces of the Congress campaign in Punjab and Uttarakhand, have virtually disappeared after they both lost their seats in the recent election. Mr Channi has not been seen or heard since the election results. He has maintained radio silence over the Centre’s arbitrary change in service rules for Chandigarh bureaucrats, alleged political violence by AAP workers against Congress workers and the AAP government’s recent lathicharge on farmers. Mr Rawat, on the other hand, has been touring different parts of Uttarakhand and taking potshots at his rivals within the Congress, claiming they are blaming him for the defeat to hide their own failures. Mr Rawat has also been inviting newly elected BJP MLAs to his home to congratulate them on their victory while the newly-elected Congress MLAs have to wait for an appointment with Mr Rawat.
The formation of the new Yogi Adityanath government has triggered a whisper campaign in Uttar Pradesh’s political circles that the second-term chief minister is not his own master and that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s central leadership had a major say in picking his ministerial team. Though Delhi agreed to drop its nominees Sidharth Nath Singh and Shrikant Sharma, the second Yogi government has its fair share of ministers who have been labelled as "outsiders", be it A.K. Sharma, Jitin Prasad, Brajesh Pathak or Rakesh Sachan. Former Gujarat cadre bureaucrat Sharma is known to be a Modi nominee. The BJP leadership had pushed for his inclusion in the ministry in Yogi’s first term but he resisted and, finally, as a compromise Mr Sharma was given a position in the party’s state unit. Keshav Prasad Maurya’s re-appointment as deputy chief minister, despite losing his seat, could not have pleased Yogi Adityanath given their frosty relationship. It is said that Pushkar Singh Dhami was deliberately named Uttarakhand chief minister even though he was defeated in the election, to make way for Mr Maurya’s inclusion in the new UP government.