The CAATS (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions) Act signed by US President Donald Trump this year has worried the Indian government, since it threatens sanctions against those nations which deal with countries considered enemies of the US, namely Russia, Iran and North Korea. The Act will impact India, which has extensive defence and energy dealings with Russia. Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale met his American counterparts in February to ask that an exception be made for India. Ironically, the Bill in the US Congress was introduced by California Congressman Ed Royce, who is hailed as a ‘friend of India’ and one of the founders of the Indo-US Caucus. It appears Royce’s fondness for India vanished after the Indian government questioned the foreign funding of an NGO, Compassion International, which provided nutrition and education for the poor in Tamil Nadu. Despite petitions from Royce and other Americans and an article in The New York Times, the Indian government refused to take the NGO off its black list. And, it eventually shut shop in India.
1+1 is out
For B S Yeddyurappa, it was like a bolt from the blue. At the eleventh hour he learnt that his son B Y Vijayendra was not to get the party ticket from Varuna, where rival Siddaramaiah’s son Yathindra is also contesting. Vijayendra was so confident of the ticket that he had rented a house in the constituency and his father had flown down in a chartered plane to accompany his son when he filed his nomination. Then the bombshell telephone came from the high command, nixing his son’s nomination. Prime Minister Narendra Modi felt that one of the BJP’s key campaign planks against the Congress should be dynastic rule, expressed in terms of numbers, 2+1+4. The figures represent the fact that CM Siddaramaiah is standing from two constituencies, his son from one, and four other Congress ministers also have sons contesting the elections. When it was pointed out that Yeddyurappa’s son was planning to contest, Modi was firm that the BJP would have no father-and-son teams.
Hoping for a miracle
C R Patil is the the chief trouble-shooter for Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. Patil, the MP from Navsari in Gujarat, handles key development projects in the Prime Minister’s Varanasi constituency and reports directly to Modi. During the Gujarat Assembly elections he was in charge of Surat district. Surat is a Patel-dominated region, where it was widely speculated that the community would vote against the BJP. But Patil succeeded in turning around the anti-establishment sentiment of the Patels, and eventually both the city and the rural area voted in favour of the BJP. Now Patil has been assigned the task of looking after four predominantly Vokkaliga districts in south Karnataka — Mysore, Mandya, Hassan and Chamarajanagar. In the last Assembly elections, the BJP did not win any of the 29 seats in these districts. The BJP hopes that Patil can somehow pull a rabbit out of his hat.
Fight after freedom
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu took a large contingent of journalists from Delhi to listen to his speech in Tirupati against the NDA government. The inducement for the scribes was a trip the next morning to the famous Tirupati temple to receive the blessings of Lord Balaji. Since most of the Delhi journalists did not understand Telugu and relied on translations, it escaped their notice that Naidu got so carried away that at one point he spoke emotionally of how he and his party had even taken on the British government. Since the TDP was formed only in 1982 by his father-in-law N T Rama Rao, and Naidu was born after Independence, it seemed an odd statement. Naidu’s remark was picked up immediately by social media, mocking him with morphed photos of his with Mahatma Gandhi and Subhas Chandra Bose.
Digvijaya Singh’s brother Laxman Singh is a five-time MP who has won on both the BJP and Congress tickets. Though he is now back in the Congress, Laxman’s recent tweets have caused consternation in the state unit. After Kamal Nath’s appointment as Madhya Pradesh Congress president, Singh tweeted tartly that the 71-year-old Nath leading Madhya Pradesh was like playing an HMV record in an age of Bluetooth technology. Even more irreverent was the tweet mocking the Congress press statement that, along with Nath, the party was planning to appoint four working presidents in the state. Laxman commented, “If the Congress gets strong with 5 presidents in Madhya Pradesh then we should immediately appoint a few more presidents in the AICC to make Congress strong in the country.’’ Elder brother Digvijaya was, understandably, upset with his outspoken brother, but the two are not on the best of terms.
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