Political Gup-Shup: Of new boss at I&B and hopeful Jogi

Mr Jogi has decided to identify 15-odd seats where his party has a presence and focus on winning these.

The results of the Karnataka Assembly polls and the Congress Party’s decision to offer the chief minister’s post to H.D. Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal (Secular) has given hope to regional leaders who believe they could be in a position to play kingmaker in subsequent elections. One of them is none other than former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi, who left the Congress two years ago and floated his own party — Chhattisgarh Janata Congress. Mr Jogi has publicly declared that his party will contest all the 90 seats in the Assembly elections slated for later this year, but the wily former Congressman is said to have changed his strategy after the Karnataka verdict. Mr Jogi has decided to identify 15-odd seats where his party has a presence and focus on winning these. The logic here is that if H.D. Kumaraswamy could be offered the chief minister’s post with 37 seats, there is every possibility that Mr Jogi may find himself in the same happy position after the elections. Realising the former chief minister’s potential to play spoiler in a three-cornered contest, Congress president Rahul Gandhi deliberately addressed a meeting in Kotmi, a Jogi stronghold, on his visit to the poll-bound state last week. Mr Jogi retaliated by booking all the grounds for three days for public meetings, providing a peep into the bitter battle ahead.

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has undoubtedly emerged as a big winner in the mini-Cabinet rejig undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week when he replaced Smriti Irani as the new boss of the high-profile information and broadcasting ministry. While Ms Irani scripted her own exit after she was mired in a string of controversies, Mr Rathore has apparently been given a more visible charge with an eye on the Rajasthan Assembly polls due this year-end. The ruling BJP needs to get its act together in the desert state as it is on a sticky wicket here as the results of the recent byelections showed. The BJP leadership is hoping that Mr Rathore’s new high-profile job will help in mollifying the Rajput community which has been upset with the saffron party though Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje did go all out to appease them during the prolonged and often violent protests against the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film Padmaavat. To be fair to Mr Rathore, he is not new to the information and broadcasting ministry. He was the junior minister when Arun Jaitley and M. Venkaiah Naidu were in charge. Unlike other ministers of state, Mr Rathore was fortunate to gain early experience in the ministry as Mr Jaitley gave him a free hand during his tenure because he had his hands full with the finance and corporate affairs portfolios.

Telugu Desam Party chief and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has been on a warpath ever since he decided to walk out of the National Democratic Alliance after the Centre refused to concede his demand for a special status for his home state. Using every opportunity to hit out at the BJP, Mr Naidu had publicly exhorted all Telugu-speaking people of Karnataka to defeat the saffron party in the Assembly polls. When the BJP failed to touch the halfway mark in Karnataka, an exultant TDP lost no time in pointing out that it paid the price for hurting the sentiments of Telugu-speaking people in Karnataka. In fact, Mr Naidu’s close aides sent out detailed messages to mediapersons pointing out that the Congress had won 32 seats and the BJP a mere five in the 46 constituencies dominated by Telugu voters. They also took special pleasure in mentioning that BJP leader D. Purandeswari, who is locked in a battle with Mr Naidu, had a tough time when she went to campaign in these areas.

Anandiben Patel, who was shifted to Madhya Pradesh as governor shortly after the Gujarat Assembly polls, has a knack of staying in the news. When she took up this new responsibility, she declined an offer of an official and instead travelled to Bhopal in a chartered bus with her family members. Having served as Gujarat chief minister, Ms Patel is used to an active political life. Not one to sit back, she started by visiting anganwadis and a juvenile correction centre and followed it up with surprise visits to hospitals. In addition, she has been calling officials and department heads to make PowerPoint presentations and has been shy of searching questions about their work. She even commented on the low nutrition levels in the state. Naturally, this has upset chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan as this is seen as a snub to him. However, Mr Chouhan can heave a sigh of relief as Ms Patel has gone abroad on a fortnight-long holiday, probably a cruise. This is unusual, as governors in Madhya Pradesh have, so far, gone on vacation unless they are undergoing medical treatment. But obviously Mr Chouhan is not complaining. Gujarat governor O.P. Kohli has been given additional charge of Madhya Pradesh till Ms Patel’s return.

( Source : Columnist )
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