Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who rebuked MLA Akash Vijayvargiya’s actions, should next caution all BJP politicians who assume they have the licence to throw their weight around. Last week, on Delhi’s Humayun Road, a speeding SUV with an MP sticker displayed on the windshield and a VIP numberplate banged into a stationary car at the red light. Both cars were damaged and the passenger in the front car was badly shaken. But the driver of the SUV, the husband of a former MP from central Uttar Pradesh, who was also sitting in the car, did not stop to enquire about the welfare of the passenger or the extent of damage. The driver, a government official, simply sped away after first giving a mouthful to the chauffeur of the car in front, as if it was the stationary vehicle’s fault. A resident of the locality recalled an incident some four decades earlier in the same vicinity which illustrated the difference in behaviour of politicians in the old days. Swaran Singh was Defence Minister and he banged his car into a man driving a scooter. Singh rushed the driver and his wife, who were not badly injured, to a dispensary for first aid. The next day Singh sent a member of his staff to their house and asked if they would like to register a police complaint against him since he was driving the car.
TWELVE of the Congress’s 19 Telangana MLAs have crossed over to Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s TRS, while one has moved to Parliament, leaving the party with six MLAs. Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM, with seven, has asked for its representative to be named Leader of the Opposition. Owaisi has reason to smile. The AIMIM has long been dismissed as a city-based party with strength confined to the Muslim-dominated areas of Hyderabad. In 2014, for the first time, the AIMIM was recognised as a state party. In 2018, it won a mere 2.7% of votes to 28.4% for the Congress, but has now emerged as the No. 2 party in the Assembly. The BJP has but one seat.
Breach of preach
With Maharashtra elections around the corner, the BJP does not seem concerned with legal niceties while inducting two defecting Congress MLAs, Radhkrishna Vikhe Patil and Abdul Sattar, into Devendra Fadnavis’s Cabinet. Under Article 91 of the Constitution, ironically introduced by a BJP government in 2003, an MLA who is declared a defector cannot be appointed a minister or hold a political post from the period of disqualification. The snag is that Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade is expectedly taking his own time deciding whether the two MLAs should be declared defectors.
2, Krishna Menon Marg, which former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley vacated recently, is one of the larger government bungalows, but Central ministers are reluctant to move in as they consider its vaastu negative. They point out that Jaitley’s numerous health problems surfaced only after he moved to the bungalow and left his private residence in South Delhi, which he occupied even when he was leader of the opposition or a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. An earlier tenant of the bungalow, Sukh Ram, got embroiled in the telecom scam and currency notes were found in the bathroom. Mulayam Singh Yadav was also plagued with serious health issues after he moved to the address. A senior MP recalls that former Congress politician from Andhra Pradesh Kishore Chandra Deo, who had a long and distinguished political career, was a great believer in examining carefully every government house he occupied from a vaastu angle before he moved in. As a young man, Deo was badly shaken by his father dying overnight of a tetanus wound received from a garage door, on the very day he received the news that he was to be made a minister in the Madras Presidency. Deo was convinced that it was the vaastu of the garage which led to his father’s untimely death.
Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee presented new Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla with a congratulatory letter and a box of sandesh sweets on behalf of his party leader Mamata Banerjee. Clearly, Banerjee has not ended the practice of gifting Bengali sweets to prominent BJP persons in Delhi, even after her spat with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who disclosed publicly that the Bengal CM sent him rasgullas. In an informal interview with actor Akshay Kumar telecast during the elections, Modi had mentioned that despite Banerjee’s tough talk against him, she unfailingly presented him two kurtas and Bengali sweets every year. A furious Banerjee had countered that the next time the PM came to West Bengal, she would gift him rasgullas made out of soil and pebbles.
This article first appeared in the print edition on July 7, 2019 under the title ‘ Inside track: Different Times.’