AFTER IMPRESSIVE poll performances in two eastern states, West Bengal and Odisha, where it had put its focus over the past two years, the BJP has turned its attention to the south. With the party leadership not satisfied with the performance in the southern states, except in Karnataka, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to be in no mood to take it lightly. His first trip after taking oath as Prime Minister has given enough indication of it. In the past two days, Modi has visited Guruvayur temple and Tirupati temple to seek divine blessing before the party embarked on a new journey in the south, according to a party leader. His visit to Guruvayur temple, where he performed Tulabharam — a ritual of devotee being weighed against an offering — with lotus flowers, the BJP’s symbol, was significant, party leaders in Kerala said. On the way back from Sri Lanka, he visited the Tirupati temple. This, party leaders said, was to seek blessings for the BJP’s attempts to emerge as an alternative in Telangana where the party won more seats than the opposition Congress.
RANDEEP SURJEWALA, who like his party chief Rahul Gandhi, was one of the fiercest critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi now rarely uses the phrase Modi government which he was so fond of using. He now prefers to address the government as BJP government and not Modi government. Even at the Congress’s official briefings, the attack is now against the BJP government. The party’s official statements issued after press conferences this week made no mention of the Modi government. But old habits die hard. At the Congress briefing on Friday, party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi uttered Modi government once — possibly a slip of tongue. Party leaders said it was a conscious decision not to use the phrase “Modi government” for the time being.
AS PRIME Minister Narendra Modi and Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih delivered their press statements on Saturday, Solih had a sudden coughing fit in the later part of his statement. He had to take several breaks, and had to drink water several times, as TV cameras broadcast him live on television. The coughing fit continued, but Solih — undeterred — continued to speak, and managed to finish his statement in Dhivehi.