Inside track: Keeping politics out

Rahul and Shah are clearly still to imbibe the spirit of bonhomie in Parliament, where ideological differences do not translate into personal enmities

Written by Coomi Kapoor | Published: January 14, 2018 12:51 am
Amit Shah, Rahul Gandhi, Parliament, Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Opinion News, Indian Express, Indian Express News Rahul and Shah are clearly still to imbibe the spirit of bonhomie in Parliament, where ideological differences do not translate into personal enmities (File)

Keeping politics out

An observer noticed that when Amit Shah and Rahul Gandhi crossed each other in the lobby between the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha recently, they did not look at each other, let alone exchange a civil greeting. It is a tradition in Parliament that no matter what the acrimony inside the House, MPs are cordial to each other outside.

For instance, earlier this month, Congress MP Anand Sharma prevented the Leader of the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, from pushing through the triple talaq Bill. But a day later, Jaitley had Sharma in his office to celebrate his birthday, where he cut a cake specially ordered for him from Mumbai by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal. Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad was also present.

There was a time when Sonia Gandhi was so hostile towards L K Advani that she would turn her face away when he tried to greet her. But now, Sonia chats amicably with Advani at official functions. Rahul and Shah are clearly still to imbibe the spirit of bonhomie in Parliament, where ideological differences do not translate into personal enmities.

Siding with sister

With the DMK on a sticky wicket after its dismal performance in the R K Nagar Assembly bypoll, party working president M K Stalin is keen to consolidate his position. As elder brother M K Alagiri remains opposed to him, Stalin is encouraging step-sister Kanimozhi to take greater interest in politics, now that she has been cleared in the 2G scam case. Stalin has asked the Rajya Sabha MP to nurse the Thoothukudi parliamentary constituency for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The constituency is dominated by Nadars, the community to which Kanimozhi’s mother belongs.

Life goes on

During the Gujarat campaign, Hardik Patel communicated through several influential WhatsApp groups, with names such as the King of Patidar, Jai Sardar and Royal Patidar, which connected with Patels all over the state who were disgruntled with the government. Now that the results have been declared, Hardik’s pragmatic followers have moved on from politics to other topics. As one member put it: “You still have to pay for the petrol in your scooter.” The messages in the groups are now largely confined to employment opportunities and thrifty purchases. Someone posted that there were 3,162 placements, for those with Class 10 certificates, in the Northern Railways. Another tip offered was on where to buy kites and manja at wholesale rates.

Master strategist

Amit Shah has begun preparations for the Karnataka Assembly campaign in right earnest. While Act One, to persuade the BJP government in Goa to increase water flow from the Mandovi river to north Karnataka, backfired, the master strategist has other aces up his sleeve, apart from the Hindutva card. Shah expects HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar to change rules so that Lingayat-run education institutions in Karnataka are entitled to special status and greater autonomy.

This is to counter the Congress’s proposal that Lingayats, who make up 18 per cent of the state’s population, be given religious minority status so that the community’s colleges have the same independence as minority institutions. The RSS is firmly opposed to this proposal seeing it as a division of Hindu society. The BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, B S Yeddyurappa, is a Lingayat. What also cannot be ruled out is a secret understanding between Shah and JD(S) supremo

H D Deve Gowda, who draws his following mainly from his Vokkaligas, who are around 12 per cent of the population. If that is the case, the BJP could field weak candidates in South Karnataka where the JD(S) is strong and has a better chance of defeating the Congress. While in North Karnataka, where the BJP is strong, the JD(S) could nominate more Muslim and OBCs to cut into the Congress vote share.

A long way

Professor Walter Andersen was the first to provide the West a peep into the working of the RSS. His understanding and objective account ran contrary to the then prevailing perception projected by Jawaharlal Nehru and the Congress. As a student, Andersen had interviewed the not easily approachable RSS chief M S Golwalkar four times. In 1987,

Andersen, who later joined the US State Department, co-authored with Shridhar D Damle The Brotherhood in Saffron, the book that became the standard reference material on the RSS and its affiliates.

Now, 30 years later, Andersen and Damle, who have interviewed all the top ranks of the Sangh Parivar, including Narendra Modi, are set to bring out a new book. It is an updated version of the same topic but in a changed scenario, with the BJP now in power. They will, however, no longer use a similar title since the term brotherhood is now identified with Islamic fundamentalism.

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  1. Seshubabu Kilambi
    Jan 14, 2018 at 9:31 pm
    Animosity has replaced civility in poltics ...also in real life ( as you sow, so you reap)
    1. S. Kumar
      Jan 14, 2018 at 1:10 pm
      Jaitley is permanent.
      1. Sudhir Bisht
        Jan 14, 2018 at 12:54 pm
        Does Coomi Kapoor find it very generous of Sonia Gandhi to respond to Advani's Namaste at her whims? Advani is much elder to Sonia and hence for the latter to have stopped reciprocating to former's greetings is downright uncivil.
        1. Venkatraman Shenoy
          Jan 14, 2018 at 11:59 am
          It is a well known fact that Sonia Gandhi is an ill-mannered, uncivil, foul-mouthed and arrogant woman lacking in even common courtesies. Unfortunately, Rahul Gandhi has inherited all these personality defects in ! Coomi Kapoor is wrong in her claims about the JDS in Karnataka. South Karnataka is now a BJP stronghold and it is expected to sweep 6 districts, viz. South Kanara, North Kanara, Udupi, Chikmagalur, Hassan and Coorg. BJP is also very likely to win most of the 28 Bangalore city seats.
          1. Clement Buck
            Jan 14, 2018 at 6:21 pm
            Venkatraman should never describe oneself in public domain. If u filthy etc then let people take care of u. Be civil.