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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Inside Track: Sitapati’s new book traces the complex relationship between Vajpayee & Advani

Author, academician Vinay Sitapati’s new book Jugalbandi traces the complex relationship between BJP founders Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani.

Written by Coomi Kapoor | Updated: November 8, 2020 9:36:45 am
atal bihari vajpayee, nitish kumar, bihar elections, Tejashwi Yadav, rajinikanth, indian expressJan Sangh treasurer Nanaji Deshmukh suggested that Vajpayee should get married.

Author, academician Vinay Sitapati’s new book Jugalbandi traces the complex relationship between BJP founders Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani. But, it is Sitapati’s account of Vajpayee’s long association with Rajkumari Kaul which will create a flutter in saffron circles. According to Sitapati, in 1965, RSS chief Guru Golwalkar held a special meeting of the RSS top brass to discuss the close relationship between Vajpayee, then a rising star of the Jan Sangh, and Kaul, his married former college contemporary from Gwalior. RSS Uttar Pradesh in-charge Bhausaheb Deoras felt that as long as there was no publicity, it was okay. Jan Sangh treasurer Nanaji Deshmukh suggested that Vajpayee should get married. Golwalkar listened to all opinions and then told Vajpayee to break ties with Kaul. Vajpayee refused. This, Sitapati believes, was the beginning of Vajpayee putting a certain distance between himself and the RSS.

Alliance Unravels

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was rattled by the hostile reception on his campaign trail. Nitish made matters worse by generally keeping his distance from journalists, while both Tejashwi Yadav and Chirag Paswan went out of the way to woo the media. In the midst of the campaign, the BJP-JD(U) alliance clearly unravelled, with the JD(U) apparently retaliating to the BJP’s tacit support to Chirag Paswan. In Bhagalpur, Deputy CM Sushil Modi was on the dais to campaign for BJP candidate Rohit Pandey when he discovered to his shock that Ajay Mandal, the JD(U) MP from the constituency, was missing. Somebody on the dais whispered that he had joined forces with the RJD. Modi made his unhappiness known in his speech. In Patna, the general secretary of the JD(U) youth wing, Ravi Chaurasia, accused BJP leaders of using IT authorities to carry out raids against JD(U) loyalists. Chaurasia construction firm, one of the beneficiaries of Nitish’s ‘Saat Nischay’ scheme, was raided recently. On Thursday, Nitish criticised those making inflammatory speeches on the CAA. His target was clearly UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Family kept away

Tejashwi Yadav ensured that his elder sister Misa and his maverick brother Tej Pratap kept out of the campaign and did not turn into liabilities. Misa was asked to remain in Delhi or stay at the family house in Patna, while Tej Pratap was confined to his Hasanpur constituency. Father Lalu’s photograph was also missing from RJD posters. The man in charge of handling Tejashwi’s campaign was Sanjay Yadav, his OSD when he was deputy CM. An MBA who belongs to Haryana, Sanjay has known Tejashwi since his days in Delhi when he played cricket. Another Haryana link of the Lalu family is Ajay Singh Yadav, the father-in-law of Tejashwi’s sister Anushka and a former minister who campaigned for Tejashwi. Randeep Surjewala, supervising the Congress campaign from the headquarters in Patna, is also from Haryana. The Congress gained a bonanza of 70 seats in the Mahagathbandhan after Jitan Ram Manjhi and Mukesh Sahani left the alliance. Same as the LJP that fielded BJP loyalists who had been denied a ticket, the Congress, with not enough suitable candidates, handed out nominations to a number of RJD members.

On Trial Basis

Those appointed to the posts of Cabinet Secretary, Home Secretary, Defence Secretary and Secretary, R&AW, used to be granted a two-year tenure to ensure continuity. The Modi government, however, has done away with this convention and awards the tenure on a piecemeal basis, depending on what it perceives as “good behaviour”. This was the case with Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, who was appointed for one year in August 2019. He got another year-long extension last month. Similarly, the Delhi Police Commissioner and Enforcement Director initially got only temporary charge of their posts for almost a year before confirmation.

Hoping for blessings

The meeting between actor Rajinikanth and BJP ideologue S Gurumurthy this week is considered significant. Rajinikanth, who was planning to start his own political party as a counter to the AIADMK and DMK, announced recently that because of his health he will not take part in active politics. Gurumurthy’s visit is seen as an attempt by the BJP to persuade the actor to at least give his blessings for the Assembly polls. The BJP is a minor player in Tamil Nadu, but an endorsement by the actor could cut into the vote share of the two Dravidian parties.

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