Political Gup-Shup: For once, mantris chase scribes

Narendra Modi is easily the leading member of this exclusive grouping.

When the information and broadcasting ministry sent out letters to all ministers requesting them to give detailed interviews to Doordarshan and All-India Radio about the achievements of their respective ministries to mark the government’s second anniversary, these were not taken seriously. Most ministers fobbed off the Doordarshan and AIR officials who sought appointments for interviews, on the plea that they had enough time till the second anniversary.

However, the lackadaisical ministers sat up after they were pulled up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a parliamentary party meeting while telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad came in for high praise for his excellent interview in which he had given a detailed account of the work accomplished by his ministry over the past two years.

Realising that Mr Modi is keeping an eye on them, the ministers’ offices have since been inundating Doordarshan and AIR with requests that their interviews be recorded at the earliest. This show of enthusiasm probably has something to do with the buzz in the capital that Mr Modi will go in for a Cabinet reshuffle after the declaration of the results of the Assembly elections.

A Rajya Sabha berth is such a coveted prize that politicians are willing to sacrifice anything, including their political affiliation and ideology, for a term in the Upper House. Beni Prasad Verma, who had launched a bitter attack against the Samajwadi Party during his brief dalliance with the Congress, lost no time in going back to the party when offered a seat in the Upper House.

While Mr Verma proved to be lucky, the same cannot be said about RLD leader Ajit Singh. Desperate for a Rajya Sabha seat, Mr Singh first agreed to join the anti-BJP front proposed by Bihar chief minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar but quickly backed off when his demand for a seat in the Upper House was not accepted. The politically flexible Mr Singh lost no time in initiating negotiations with the BJP leadership which insisted that the RLD chief should go in for a merger with their party ahead of next year’s Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. However, there was no mention of a Rajya Sabha seat. Mr Singh has now opened channels of communication with the Congress but, so far, he has not got any positive feedback from the grand old party.

It is undeniably the country’s most high-profile and power-packed singles’ club. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is easily the leading member of this exclusive grouping. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa are the other members. The two women chief ministers proved their mettle by beating anti-incumbency and winning a second consecutive term in their respective states.

The BJP’s Sarbananda Sonowal, who is all set to take over as the party’s first chief minister in Assam, is the new entrant to this club. Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti can also claim membership to this club. The moot question is: Will Bahujan Samaj Party chief Ms Mayawati be the next leader to gain entry to this group. Since trends suggest that single politicians are on a winning spree, it would appear that Mayawati is best placed to dethrone the Samajwadi Party-led government in Uttar Pradesh in next year’s Assembly polls.
Unless, of course, she is beaten to it by another member of the club, Mr Modi, as luck seems to be favouring him once again.

The BJP and its ideological mentor, the RSS are going out of their way to enlist the help of young glamorous faces in their effort to reach out to the urban, upwardly mobile and professional populace. The party and the RSS identify people (including actors, writers and journalists) outside their organisations who share their worldview and then use them to spread the good word about the Modi government, the BJP and their ideology. Think tanks like the Vivekananda Foundation and the India Foundation, headed by national security adviser Ajit Doval’s son Shaurya Doval, are the entry points in most cases.

Both organisations are known to be affiliated to the BJP and the RSS. While many sympathisers have been co-opted, Advaita Kala, who co-wrote the script of the well-known film Kahaani and is working on a book on the RSS, is the latest favourite. She has been given access to the RSS offices and BJP leaders.

Then there are others, mainly with right-wing leanings, who are invited for the India Foundation’s conclave, which also has a high-level participation by the Modi government’s senior ministers. More recently, the “co-opted” members were invited for a special event — “Vaicharik Mahakumbh” — held on the sidelines of the Simhastha Kumbh mela in Ujjain. Ram Madhav, the BJP’s national general secretary and former member of the RSS national executive, plays a key role in identifying and enlisting those sympathetic to their cause.

( Source : Columnist )
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