High flying campaign
Controversial Delhi Police chief B S Bassi is due to retire at the end of February and there is a tussle between four DG grade officers who are next in line for the job. One aspirant flew to Rajkot in the private jet of a controversial Noida based packaging industrialist to meet a Gujarati preacher Morari Bapu. He was hoping that Morari Bapu, who is believed to be close to PM Modi, would put in a word for him.
Hoping for new term
At the CPI(M) plenum conference in Kolkata, Brinda Karat moved a resolution on Tripura, lauding the success of CPI(M) CM Manik Sarkar. Karat is making an all out bid to secure the Rajya Sabha nomination from Tripura, since the present tribal MP is soon to retire. Karat is keen to secure a second term in Parliament since her first term ended two years ago. She has been wooing Bengal CPI(M) leaders Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Biman Bose and succeeded in getting listed as a speaker at the woman’s brigade rally, although another speaker was originally scheduled to address the rally.
Journalist writer Aditya Sinha, who co-authored the reminiscences of former R&AW chief A S Dulat, was keen to do a fresh biography of former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah. (He had written a biography of Abdullah 20 year ago). Abdullah, who has a colourful life story and is privy to many secrets of the untold exchanges between the government, various separatist groups and the Pakistani government, was keen to cooperate. Abdullah assured that he had a few stories left to tell and believed it had all the ingredients for a sure-fire bestseller. But Abdullah later backtracked. It is felt that his more cautious son Omar Abdullah didn’t want his him to bring out a tell-all biography, fearing it would embarrass the National Conference.
PM Modi had requested E S L Narasimhan, who is governor of both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, to act as peacemaker between the CMs of the two states and end recriminations between the two. The bad blood between K Chandrashekhar Rao and Chandrababu Naidu had led to filing of cross cases against each other. KCR accused Naidu of trying to bribe a Telangana MLA and Naidu alleged that KCR’s government tapped his telephone. Narasimhan seems to have been fairly successful in bringing about a rapprochement. KCR attended the foundation laying ceremony of Andhra Pradesh’s capital Amaravati and Naidu was present at KCR’s yagna in Telangana. Both attended the function at Raj Bhavan last week in honour of President Pranab Mukherjee who was returning from his winter holiday in Hyderabad. To maintain balance, both Andhra and Telugu cuisine were on the menu at Raj Bhavan.
Bull by horns
On Friday the Centre lifted the ban on the bull taming sport Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu. The Modi government was under pressure from political parties in the state to undo the 2014 Supreme Court ban on the sport, the Indian equivalent of the Spanish bull fight. Jallikattu is a centuries-old tradition in the southern parts of the state during the festival of Pongal. It was banned by the SC on the grounds that it amounted to cruelty to animals. Jayalalithaa wrote a letter to the PM last year, requesting that the Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, be amended, to exempt Jallikattu. Unlike Spain, where the bull is killed, in Jallikattu the competitors tame the bull to retrieve the money which is tied to its horns. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had earlier indicated that the Centre was trying to work out a solution, noting that Jallikattu as well as the bullock cart races in Maharashtra and Punjab were old traditions which could be practised without cruelty to animals.
Many potential CMs
Elections in Tamil Nadu are due later this year and every party has declared a CM candidate, even if there is little chance of securing a majority. There are at least six aspiring CM candidates in the fray. The PMK has declared its leader Anbumani Ramadoss as prospective CM. The DMDK has made it clear that its only leader is Vijayakanth. Even the BJP is projecting its state leader Tamilisai Soundararajan and the CPI and Vaiko’s party are backing the 90-year-old Nallakannu as potential CM. In AIADMK, it goes without saying that Jayalalithaa is seeking a new term. In the DMK, for protocol purposes, M Karunanidhi is the chief ministerial candidate, but at 92 it seems most likely that his younger son, M K Stalin would head the government if the party comes to power.