Known to be superstitious, politicians are currently worried when told that the planetary changes which took place last week bear a remarkable similarity to those witnessed 30 years ago. This has become a source of considerable concern for the ruling BJP as the country was in the throes of an economic crisis three decades ago. At the same time, students had hit streets to protest against the implementation of the Mandal Commission report while senior BJP leader L.K. Advani embarked on a rath yatra to revive the Ram temple issue. This led to political instability with the country seeing a change of several Prime Ministers. This may well be mumbo-jumbo and the ruling party’s fears are possibly exaggerated but it has not stopped its members from consulting their astrologers and keeping a sharp eye on planetary configurations.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi sent a special condolence message on the recent death of Ashwini Kumar Chopra Minna, senior journalist and former BJP MP from Karnal. While she spoke about Minna’s distinguished innings as an editor and social worker, Ms Gandhi also mentioned that his friendship cut across political boundaries. The Congress chief had a reason for referring to his friendly ties with political leaders of all hues. It has been known for some years now that as neighbours in Lodhi Estate, Minna and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had developed a warm friendship. Minna constantly mentioned this fact in the course of a conversation, making it a point to underline that this friendship had remained intact even after he joined the BJP. In fact, Ms Vadra is said to have put in a word with the Manmohan Singh government when Minna’s security cover was to be scaled down. The move was promptly vetoed on the ground that there was a threat to Minna’s life as his father and well-known Punjab editor Lala Jagat Narian was gunned down by militants.
After a prolonged run of bad luck, finally, there is some hope for former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. Congress president Sonia Gandhi recently named him chairman of a committee to oversee the implementation of the party election manifesto in Madhya Pradesh. To outsiders, this may not appear to be a significant development but for those familiar with the Congress ecosystem, this appointment signals Mr Chavan’s rehabilitation.
When Arun Jaitley vacated the sprawling ministerial bungalow on Krishna Menon Marg last June and shifted to his own place in Kailash Colony, he was told he would be allocated a new bungalow in his capacity as a Rajya Sabha member and a former minister. The urban development ministry zeroed in on 22, Akbar Road, a bungalow which is on every minister’s wish list because of its extensive lawns. Former steel minister, Birender Singh, who was occupying the bungalow, moved out when told that the place had been earmarked for Arun Jaitley, who wanted an official residence primarily because he wished to use it for his son Rohan’s wedding. Jaitley passed away last August but his son’s wedding reception will be held at the Akbar Road bungalow on February 15 as decided earlier.
There appears to be no end to the ongoing battle between the BJP and its alliance partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal. Already miffed with the BJP at being ignored, the Akalis are upset that the BJP wanted their candidates to contest next month’s Delhi Assembly election on the BJP’s lotus symbol on the plea that this would give them a better chance in the field. This suggestion was not liked by the Akalis, who felt it was an insult to their party’s identity. As a result, they have decided not to participate in the Delhi election. An Akali leader admitted that their party had given in to a similar proposal from the BJP in the last Delhi election but they were persuaded to do so by the amiable Arun Jaitley, who, he said, had a way of handling tricky situations. On the other hand, the current BJP dispensation only believes in pushing its allies to accept its decisions, he maintained. It’s a proverbial case of my way or the highway....