Devyani Khobragade is in trouble not just with the US authorities but also with the Ministry of External Affairs. The MEA is keeping silent at the moment pending the resolution of the case in New York against the diplomat over alleged visa fraud and for making false statements regarding salary payments to her former maid Sangeeta Richard. After the squabble over Khobragade’s arrest, the MEA discovered that her two daughters hold dual citizenship. They were entitled to American passports because of their father’s nationality and being born in the US. But they have also been issued Indian passports. This is a clear offence.
The Aam Aadmi Party believes Kumar Vishwas’s “literary talents” will prove a plus in the contest against Rahul Gandhi in the Congress vice-president’s home turf of Amethi. However, the Gandhis’ ‘poet laureate’ in the constituency, Jagdish Piyush, is more than a match for him. Piyush has been spinning out paeans of praise for the Gandhi family for decades and his slogans adorn the walls of Amethi. One of his best-remembered compositions is ‘Amethi ka danka, bitiya Priyanka’. He has also coined verses such as ‘Rahul ek mashal hai, naya Jawaharlal hai’, and ‘Swapan Sonia ka saakar, sabko bhojan ka adhikar’. Vishwas’s poems, it may be argued, are more lyrical, but Piyush’s doggerel is more catchy. To add to the poetic battle, the little-known Swaraj Party, which has been encouraged to stand from Amethi, has zeroed in on a famous poet of the region as its candidate.
The BJP has hired a team of professionals to shoot videos of rallies around the country addressed by Narendra Modi and other senior leaders. The videos are fed to TV channels, which happily telecast them without attributing the source, saving on costs. The Congress is following the BJP’s example. It now provides TV channels regular feed of Rahul Gandhi’s meetings. When the attendance is thin, the camera focuses on faces in the audience and does not provide a long shot of the crowd. Taking a leaf out of the book of the two major parties, the BSP sent a feed to TV channels of Mayawati’s Lucknow rally on her birthday. However, at Modi’s recent chai pe charcha, the video of simultaneous interaction at different locations suffered technical glitches. The BJP has ordered an internal probe into the matter.
Former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi is writing a book on his years in the post. The book, titled Undocumented Wonder, will provide a behind-the-scene look at the enormous exercise involved in holding elections in the world’s largest democracy.
The BJP is more interested in recruiting Bhojpuri stars for its election campaign in North India than hiring the big names of Bollywood. While many Bollywood stars are more fluent in English than Hindi, Bhojpuri actors who speak the local dialect are a far bigger draw in the rural areas of Poorvanchal. Bhojpuri actor-singer Manoj Tiwari, who was earlier in the Samajwadi Party, joined the BJP before the Delhi Assembly elections. The party is assured of him canvassing for its candidates. Another Bhojpuri artiste whom the BJP is hoping to recruit is Ravi Kishan, but he has proved elusive. Kishan, who lives in Mumbai, harbours political ambitions. He has even expressed a desire to contest from the Jaunpur Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh. However, Maharashtra Congress leader Kripashankar Singh is keeping an eye to ensure that the BJP’s intermediaries do not get to him.
The new challenger
Mamata Banerjee is furious at the Aam Aadmi Party trying to make inroads into Bengal. When an AAP office was inaugurated in a firecracker shop in Kolkata’s Burra Bazaar, the local police made enquiries as to who was behind the venture. Mamata believes the Trinamool Congress is the genuine common man’s party, which struggled for years to defeat the Communists. She is not ready to tolerate any “interlopers”. An added apprehension is that several former Maoists who now find themselves marginalised may turn to AAP. Mamata frowns upon any media build-up for the newbie outfit.