Most in the BJP have chosen to ignore the fact that Sushma Swaraj was recently trolled by virulent Hindutva-BJP sympathisers. Their hands-off attitude is reflective of the division in the BJP high command. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not expressed support for Swaraj. In fact, he recently tweeted that the immense and frank use of social media “is a method to exchange ideas and is very endearing’’. No BJP spokesperson, even though questioned by media, has criticised the trolls. Ironically, they voiced sympathy over the threats to a Congress spokesperson’s daughter on the Internet. Swaraj’s BJP Cabinet colleagues also remained silent, except for two, Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari. Clearly, Swaraj is not on the same side as the majority in the party, who feel she tweets for personal PR and not for the party.
No hero to valet
The conventional political story is that the rift between Indira Gandhi and P N Haksar, once the late prime minister’s key advisor, was bridged after Sanjay Gandhi’s death. Jairam Ramesh’s very readable book Intertwined Lives, however, hints otherwise. In a letter to Bakul Patel, Rajni Patel’s widow, in September 1997, Haksar objected to Bakul referring to him as “Indira Gandhi’s conscience keeper’’. Haksar replied that he could hardly be the conscience keeper of someone who did not have a moral compass of right and wrong. He bitterly dismissed his own brilliant career as an administrator as “an errand boy during the Nehru years who graduated to become a valet’’. Adding that, as the saying goes, “no man is hero to his valet’’. Ramesh has excused the scathing denouncement “as late life melancholy’’, pointing out that Haksar had spoken around the same time to Indira Gandhi’s biographer Katherine Frank in a far more kindly and balanced vein.
Fifth gen out
The fifth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, Rehan Vadra, will turn 18 next month. Star-struck invitees at a launch of Srinath Raghavan’s book on US policy in South Asia got an opportunity to click photos of Priyanka Gandhi’s son, who posed good-naturedly with his mother. The nattily dressed teenager has graduated from Doon School and is likely to study at King’s College, London, and not Cambridge University, the alma mater of his ancestors.
Bus or bust
During the Karnataka election campaign, Ghulam Nabi Azad arranged for a Volvo van. The squabbling state Congress leaders were sent in the vehicle on a yatra throughout the state to demonstrate that it was a united party. Now the same Volvo is parked outside Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath’s residence in Bhopal. But can Nath persuade rival leaders, such as Jyotiraditya Scindia and Digvijaya Singh, to accompany him in the Volvo? Travelling by bus in a group is rather infra dig for those with proud royal lineages.
Amit Shah believes that nobody is indispensible. He has made a practice of undercutting important caste leaders in the NDA by recruiting rivals from the same caste. The latest is his coup in persuading Kunwarji Bavaliya to desert the Gujarat Congress, of which he was the state working president, and making him a Cabinet minister in the state government. Bavaliya is a leader of the OBC Kolis, who constitute nearly 22 per cent of Gujarat’s population. Bavaliya’s entry has undermined the position of fellow Koli, Purshottam Solanki, an MoS who ever since his swearing-in has demonstrated his unhappiness by rarely attending office. Solanki has been MoS, Fisheries, since Narendra Modi was CM and felt an upgrade was long overdue. Will Solanki take the insult lying down?
Upholding the bar
Supreme Whispers, authored by Abhinav Chandrachud, who happens to be the grandson of a former chief justice of India and the son of sitting Supreme Court judge, is bound to generate much talk in the bar and bench. Chandrachud has based his book on notes kept by the late American legal scholar George H Gadbois Jr of his conversations in the 1980s with more than 66 judges of the Supreme Court, 19 of whom were chief justices. The startling revelations suggest that it is not just today’s Supreme Court which is divided by petty rivalries and plagued by appointments influenced by personal or political considerations. One judge’s appointment to the Supreme Court was nixed simply because he attended the funeral of the RSS chief, his father’s old friend. Another was given papers by a PM on her family property case and, according to his widow, some people came to his house and whisked the papers away immediately after he died. Chandrachud, a protégé of Gadbois, believes that since most of the conversations are about people who have passed away, it is now a part of history and not contempt.