Opinion Columnists 27 Jul 2020 Anita Katyal | Shah, ...
The writer is a Delhi-based journalist.

Anita Katyal | Shah, Kejriwal vie for Covid credit; Gehlot ‘mole’ wants payback

Published Jul 27, 2020, 6:05 pm IST
Updated Jul 27, 2020, 6:05 pm IST
Home Minister Amit Shah with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (PTI)
 Home Minister Amit Shah with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (PTI)

Now that the Covid-19 pandemic in Delhi is under control, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Union home minister Amit Shah are rushing to take credit for the successful handling of a grim situation.

While Mr Kejriwal is both visible and vocal in publicising his government’s efforts, Mr Shah is equally active in ensuring that his contribution is not overlooked.

His publicity managers are quick to underline that this turnaround had happened only after Mr Shah stepped in and supervised the ramping up of the health facilities in the Capital. Mr Kejriwal’s publicity team is equally active.

Caught in the middle, media houses have to do a tightrope walk as they cannot afford to annoy either Mr Shah or Mr Kejriwal since the state and the central governments have big advertising budgets and both do not hesitate to blacklist newspapers they are unhappy with.

As it is, a favourable story on either leader means an immediate phone call from the other side to point out their version should get equal play.

The rivalry between its legal eagles Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi is no secret in Congress circles. The party has to constantly do a balancing act between the two so that their egos are not bruised.

This is exactly what happened when the matter of the show cause notices sent to former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and his supporters went to court. Mr Singhvi was asked to appear before the Rajasthan high court on behalf of Assembly Speaker C.P.Joshi when his notices were challenged by the rebel legislators.

Apparently this did not go down well with Mr Sibal who was unhappy at being overlooked. Consequently, the party rushed to placate him and asked Mr Sibal to draft the special leave petition on Mr Joshi’s behalf when it was decided to approach the Supreme Court.

As for Mr Pilot, he had first approached Mr Singhvi but the latter declined as he was appearing for the other side. In any case, Mr Singhvi is learnt to have told Mr Pilot that he would be ready to help him in any other matter but not this one since it pertained to the internal rift in the Congress. Mr Pilot then hired Mukul Rohtagi and Harish Salve.

At a time when Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot is battling to save his government, Mahendrajeet Malviya, MLA from Bagidora, is pressuring him for a ministerial berth. Mr Malviya believes he is justified in making this demand.

His name had figured prominently in rebel leader Sachin Pilot’s list of supporters. However, the Bagidora legislator Malviya lost no time in switching sides and was soon back with Mr Gehlot.

It turns out that Malviya was actually Mr Gehlot’s mole in the Pilot camp who kept the chief minister informed about his rival’s activities. Now that he has delivered, Mr Malviya obviously wants to be rewarded for his efforts. Mr Gehlot has learned that there is nothing like a free lunch.

While Ashok Gehlot has managed to keep his flock of MLAs together, his colleague, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath is having problems in holding on to party legislators.

Even months after 22 MLAs owing allegiance to Jyotiraditya Scindia switched sides to the Bharatiya Janata Party, two more Congress legislators have resigned and joined the saffron party.

According to reports from Bhopal, the Congress camp is expected to witness further resignations from its ranks in the coming days as the BJP has set itself a target of 30 MLAs. The BJP is apparently not confident that all the 22 legislators from the Scindia camp can win their seats when by-elections are held.

Numbers are important for the BJP as it needs to improve its tally to enjoy a comfortable majority in the assembly. It has, therefore, decided to go on a poaching spree to include MLAs who represent safe seats which would enable them to win more seats.

Little wonder then that the common refrain among Congress MLAs in Madhya Pradesh these days is that they too need a Gehlot to save their party.

Faced with a worsening coronavirus situation, an ailing economy and a serious law and order problem, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s popularity has hit an all-time low. Its impatient ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, believes this is the best time to go solo in the coming Assembly polls and return to power on its own.

However, the more pragmatic leaders in the saffron camp are counselling their restless Bihar colleagues that the party has little option but to continue with this partnership as it does not have a credible state who can be projected as Nitish Kumar’s alternative.

Similarly Nitish Kumar is equally dependent on the BJP. He needs the BJP, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma, to pull off another electoral victory. And the BJP needs Nitish Kumar as he is still their best bet despite his falling popularity ratings.



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