Inside Track: Keeping a check

Even the powerful Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath does not have a completely free hand.

Written by Coomi Kapoor | Updated: June 4, 2017 8:58 am

Keeping  a check

Even the powerful Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath does not have a completely free hand. Back in March, Adityanath had informed the media he would like Awanish Awasthi, an IAS   officer who had served as district magistrate of Gorakhpur, to be his principal secretary. A month later, the media was informed that Awasthi, who graduated from IIT Kanpur, would take over as soon as he was relieved by the Central government, as he is currently a joint secretary in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. However, on May 19, it was announced that a UP-based IAS officer, Shashi Prakash Goyal, would be Yogi’s principal secretary.


At Amit Shah’s luncheon meeting with senior Delhi print media journalists on the third anniversary of the Modi government last Sunday, he was the cynosure of all eyes. Shah had insisted that top Cabinet ministers attend the interaction, at which media in-charge G V L Narasimha Rao first made a power point presentation. But the ministers spoke very little. Home Minister Rajnath Singh sat glumly all through and  gave non-committal answers to questions on Kashmir and the UP law and order problems. The normally articulate and witty Venkaiah Naidu, the Information and Broadcasting Minister, was uncharacteristically subdued. Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj said she would speak on policy matters on her ministry only at her annual press conference, but she did attempt to make polite conversation with  journalists at her table. Shah alone held forth, surrounded on all sides by journalists anxious to catch every last word he uttered. Whether it was on the presidential candidate, cow-slaughter ban or UP, Shah talked down to his guests, sometimes cutting the scribes short without letting them complete their questions. Despite his brusqueness, Shah appears to have been a big hit with TV journalists judging by a photograph taken a day earlier at a similar interaction. The photo which shows scribes gazing at Shah with wide-eyed admiration has gone viral on the social media,  with the caption ‘PR karna to darna kya’.

No age limit to folly

There was a last-minute hitch at the Wagah border when Uzma Ahmed, the Indian woman allegedly forced to marry by a Pakistani man at gunpoint, was returning to India. Pakistani officials, including an ISI operative, wanted to interrogate her, claiming she was an Indian agent. Officers from the Indian Embassy who were accompanying her were fearful that Ahmed  might be detained, despite a Pakistan court order permitting her to return home. But Ahmed held her own during the lengthy grilling. A Pakistani officer  asserted that a 30-year-old would not be so “bewakoof (foolish)” as to come all the way from India to meet a man in the interiors of Pakistan whom she barely knew. Ahmed responded bluntly that foolishness has no age limit.

Better connected

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar skipped Sonia Gandhi’s lunch meeting for discussing a joint Opposition challenge against the BJP’s presidential candidate, but turned up the next day in Delhi for a lunch with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He dismissed speculation that he was distancing himself from the Opposition or trying to get closer to Modi. Kumar said he was keen to attend the lunch because the chief guest was Pravind Jugnauth, the newly elected Prime Minister of Mauritius. Jugnauth, like some 40 per cent of  Mauritius’s population, has Bihari roots and Nitish is keen for his state to benefit from the  Mauritius connection. The PM had a similar idea and selected Minister of State for HRD  Upendra Kushwaha as Jugnauth’s minister in waiting during his visit. Kushwaha is not just a Bihari, he is also from the same community as Jugnauth.

Sixty completed

In Maharashtra, when a man completes 60 years (Shashti Purti), all are expected to take part in the festivities. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis organised the function for Minister of Road Transport and Shipping Nitin Gadkari when he entered his 61st year last week, in Nagpur. The guests cut across party lines. Sharad Pawar, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Narayan Rane and Praful Patel were all on the dais, along with the chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The guests were surprised that BJP president Amit Shah, listed on top in the invitation card, did not  show up. The card was printed well in advance and Shah at the last minute asked to be excused saying he had to address the  Delhi media on three years of Modi rule. Two days later, Shah visited the RSS headquarters  in Nagpur.

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  1. J
    John Joseph
    Jun 4, 2017 at 11:39 pm
    We are told again and again by 'experts' and 'talking heads' that Islam is a religion of peace. It is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the spectre of muslim fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam. 'The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the muslim fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars worldwide. 'It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists globally and are gradually taking over the entire world in an Islamic wave. It is the muslim fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honour-kill. It is the fanatics who take over churches and temples to built mosque after mosque. It is the muslim fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homo uals. It is the muslim fanatics who tell their young to kill.
    1. R
      rajveer bhi
      Jun 5, 2017 at 12:45 pm
      your suffering from islamiforbia jahn /i suggest you lay down in a dark room and relax as the true followers of islam are no threat to you
    2. Seshubabu Kilambi
      Jun 4, 2017 at 7:50 pm
      TheBihar CM might be seeking refuge from the exam scandal plaguing him since the Bjp partnered him long ago
      1. K
        Jun 4, 2017 at 2:35 pm
        Trying hard to gossip
        1. P
          Parth Garg
          Jun 4, 2017 at 1:53 pm
          It seems the TV journalists referred to by Coomi Kapoor would be watching too much of the TV serial Nagin to be awe-struck by Shah.
          1. Venkatraman Shenoy
            Jun 4, 2017 at 11:31 am
            As usual, Coomi Kapoor makes for a good Sunday morning read. A lot of Amit Shah and a little on Yogi. Is there a hidden agenda here?
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