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Inside Track — Virtual Dating

The highest decision-making body of the BJP is the Parliamentary Council, responsible for general policy in Parliament and the state legislatures. Surprisingly, in the 11-member elite panel, there are four vacancies. No appointments have been made to fill vacancies due to the passing of Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, the elevation of Venkaiah Naidu to the post of Vice President and the retirement of Thaawarchand Gehlot as Head. of the Rajya Sabha. The remaining seven members are Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, JP Nadda, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and BL Santhosh. In fact, after the Covid, formal physical meetings are rare. Instead, the general practice is for an exchange of ideas only between the big three, Modi, Shah and Nadda. And the decision is communicated by telephone to the other members. Although most members have no say in the management of the party, a position on the board of directors is nevertheless highly coveted. Followers of Yogi Adityanath have long speculated that he will join the prestigious body soon, but UP CM, despite his spectacular victory, are still waiting.

Report a Concern

The rules of the Archaeological Survey of India are very rigid. No structure is permitted within 100 meters of the outer limits of its monuments. So when the Nizamuddin East entrance roundabout was dug out to erect a 115ft high flag pole next to the 16th century Khan-i-Khanan tomb, the PWD received a notice of withdrawal. They refused to queue, however, even after a complaint was filed with the police. As well as obstructing the view of the historic monument, the disproportionate flag pole is an eyesore in the residential colony, especially as it towers over a striking art installation by Anjolie Ela Menon. However, the unsightly flagpole is unlikely to be removed as the Delhi CM wants to rival the BJP in an unnecessary xenophobic campaign. The capital has budgeted Rs 104 crore for its deshbhakti program which calls for the erection of 500 masts to counter the BJP’s Rastravaadi campaign.

Losing enthusiasm

Sharad Pawar indicated last week that he did not want to lead any opposition front, and added that no anti-BJP alliance was possible without Congress. In fact, it was not Pawar who came up with his name, but Saamana editor Sanjay Raut, who these days seems closer to the NCP than the Shiv Sena. (In fact, Pawar even met Modi to protest his harassment by Enforcement Directorate authorities). Likewise, it was pollster Prashant Kishor who floated the idea that Pawar would be an ideal choice for the president. However, with the decisive victories of the BJP in the Assembly, the enthusiasm of all those promoting a political alternative to the BJP, including Mamata Banerjee, is lacking. Incidentally, this parliamentary session, Congress avoided hosting strategic opposition meetings, as it has done in the past.

Tactical moves

At the recent CWC meeting, many were surprised when Rahul Gandhi remarked that the party’s prospects in Gujarat were bright. As the BJP’s position has weakened in Modi’s home state, Congress is hardly well placed to confront it, even if it succeeds in winning over Naresh Patel, the boss of the Shree Khodaldham Trust. Infighting in Congress is less of a liability than the growing popularity of the AAP – its slogan to give it a chance is gaining traction. The BJP, meanwhile, has a proven formula up its sleeve. In September he fired CM Vijay Rupani and his cabinet for non-performance and now most incumbent MPs could be sacked for the same reason.

Loyalty not rewarded

The Congress has made it a matter of principle that it will not field any defectors in the recent Goa Assembly elections. During the last Assembly, the party had been decimated by defections, its membership having finally fallen from 17 to 2 deputies. (Of the two MPs, Pratapsingh Rane also went torturous by refusing to run for re-election and allowing his daughter-in-law to run on a BJP ticket from his seat. Now there is talk of his gubernatorial nomination. ) But the last man standing in Congress was not rewarded for his unwavering loyalty by being chosen as Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly. Michael Lobo, a BJP defector who helped Congress secure four seats for Bardez taluka, including that of his wife Delilah, was nominated. Digambar Kamat was not even appointed Goa party leader to replace Girish Chodankar. His only reward was to be made a permanent guest at the CWC. Recent events have shown that the role of the committee is largely that of a cheering squad for the Gandhis.