There may be contrary views on the content of the 2019 BJP manifesto, but there can hardly be any differences that the English document badly needed a good translator and a sub-editor. It is replete with poor English, sentences with missing articles and babu words such as ‘upskilling’, ‘reskilling’, ‘sporting talent’, ‘kuchcha’, ‘pucca’ etc. But at least someone should have noticed something wrong in the following sentence, “We have made strict provisions for transferring the laws in order to commit crimes against women.’’
Lalu Prasad’s engrossing biography in English, Gopalganj to Raisina, is written in polished prose uncharacteristic of his earthy, rustic image. But he had a senior journalist, Nalin Verma, pen his thoughts. An interesting fact to emerge is that Lalu’s main rivals in Bihar today, Nitish Kumar, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Sushil Modi, all started their political careers with him during the JP Movement. Lalu won the post of Patna University Students’ Union president (PUSU) in 1973-74, while Modi and Prasad, members of the ABVP, were elected as the PUSU’s general secretary and secretary respectively. It was, writes Lalu, “the beginning of a political rivalry between the ABVP and me, which remains to this day’’. Nitish, he claims, was an insignificant student in a Patna engineering college when he himself was already a full- time political worker. Lalu writes that Modi and Prasad intrigued against him and tried to spoil his reputation with his idol and mentor, Jayaprakash Narayan, by telling him that Lalu drank liquor and collected money, which was unaccounted for. Lalu says he exonerated himself pointing out that as a village boy he did sometimes drink toddy and his friend Shivanand Tewari smoked ganja, but that it was a total lie that he collected money. Later, the ABVP even tinkered with the press release announcing that Lalu was convener of the Bihar students’ movement, but with JP’s support he was reinstated, the book says. Lalu claims that Nitish, who was once his ally, “always looked for the right opportunity to get into positions of power’’.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had come up with an ingenuous plan to keep in check the stray cattle running wild in the state, giving farmers a huge headache. The CM ordered that all such cattle should be locked up in state prison compounds and supplied fodder. The idea sounds funny, but there are reports of some success for the scheme.
Many in the BJP are convinced that L K Advani did not pen his nuanced, well-crafted blog on the eve of the BJP’s foundation day entirely on his own. The blog, implicitly criticising the party bosses for undermining of the BJP’s value system and not upholding constitutional norms, was a source of considerable embarrassment. Visitors to the 91-year-old founder of the BJP doubt that Advani was in a position to write the piece solo. The needle of suspicion about the ghost writer is on a journalist who frequently visits his home and has in the past written speeches for both Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He recently authored an article in a newspaper praising the Congress manifesto and is a contributor to The National Herald.
Mind your language
In the heat of electioneering, politicians often say things without considering the consequences. In western Uttar Pradesh, two remarks, one by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the other by CM Yogi Adityanath, have backfired badly. Modi, in his rallies at Meerut and Saharanpur, took jibes at RLD leader Ajit Singh and son Jayant Choudhary, saying they were not to be seen in their constituencies after the 2013 communal violence, but were now scurrying from place to place begging for votes. The remark was received badly by Jats, who felt it was a slur against Jat leader Chaudhary Charan Singh’s family. The clannish Jats believe that only they can belittle their own, not outsiders. Similarly, while sugarcane farmers are angry about non-payment of dues for the current season by sugar mills, the UP Chief Minister’s flippant statement that people should not grow so much sugarcane as sugar causes diabetes was a red rag to the bull.
On the other hand, the gathbandhan played into the hands of Yogi Adityanath, who gains if there is any polarisation of voters, by organising the first joint rally of the SP and BSP in 25 years at Deoband. The town is associated with the Darul Uloom, Deoband, which propagates a conservative Islamic revivalist movement among Sunnis. In fact, the rally had nothing whatsoever to do with the seminary and the venue was selected because it was at the centre of three constituencies, Saharanpur, Kairana and Muzaffarnagar, and is considered a “symbol of bhaichara (brotherhood)”.