The Special Protection Group (SPG) now ensures that no one stands in front or blocks a clear view of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when a photo or video of his is being taken. Most of the recent photographs of Modi, at the Sardar Patel statue or at the Kedarnath shrine, show him standing majestically alone. Vidoes purportedly showing several episodes of the SPG pushing aside people blocking a view of the PM were tweeted by someone recently, after which he was trolled so mercilessly he deleted his Twitter account.
Hints of a Gandhi family reunion?
Maneka Gandhi’s frontal and public Twitter attack on Maharashtra Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, over the killing of man-eater tigress Avni in Yavatmal, has angered some high-ups in the BJP. The public campaign against Mungantiwar, an OBC who is an old Sangh loyalist and the second most important minister in the Maharashtra Cabinet, may not be taken lightly as were some of Maneka’s earlier maverick remarks. Maneka’s son Varun has already completely alienated the party high command and was not asked to campaign in home state Uttar Pradesh during the Assembly elections.
The BJP is also suspicious that the feuding Gandhi factions may reunite politically. Recently Sonia Gandhi visited a festival for women organised by her sister-in-law’s ministry. Sonia’s presence might have been because of her interest in the subject and not the organiser. But then there was Rahul Gandhi’s remark, also critical of the tiger killing. Quoting the Mahatma, he tweeted, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.’’
All the way from UP, for Sardar
Anupriya Patel, Minister of State, Health, in Modi’s Cabinet, is a Kurmi who heads the caste-based regional party Apna Dal. Kurmis of Uttar Pradesh are considered the counterpart of the Patels of Gujarat. To please her constituents, Anupriya took a party of 1,200 Apna Dal members to see the newly inaugurated giant Sardar Patel statue. Anupriya wanted her community to identify with the Sardar. The unprepared ticketing staff at the statue was unable to handle the first-day rush, leading to chaos. The contingent from Uttar Pradesh was finally allowed free entry as a consequence.
CBI war may head to political battlefield
In the internecine war in the CBI, Director Alok Verma is upbeat, even though he has lost his post, at least temporarily. He believes that he has become a hero on social media. Some in the anti-BJP camp have floated the idea that he should stand from the South Delhi parliamentary seat as a symbol of the fight against the corruption of the Narendra Modi government. His friend in the Enforcement Directorate, Rajeshwar Singh, is more overtly political. His well-wishers even tried to get him a ticket for the Noida Assembly seat in 2017.
Parrikar photos leave a bad taste
To counter the charge that the BJP was headless in Goa because of the critical illness of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, the party released two pictures of Parrikar presiding over a meeting of bureaucrats this month. Far from reassuring the state’s populace, there was indignation that the party should have publicised a photograph of the popular Parrikar looking gaunt, with sunken eyes and propped up with pillows.
Tej Pratap as the unhappy groom
RJD leader Tej Pratap Yadav has filed for divorce less than six months after his much publicised wedding, attended by some 10,000 invitees, in Patna. The elder son of jailed former chief minister Lalu Prasad protested that if he was the North Pole, his wife, Aishwarya Rai, was the South Pole and he was coerced into the marriage by his family. He describes himself as a simpleton who failed to pass even his first year of college. Aishwarya, the granddaughter of a former Bihar chief minister, Daroga Rai, is a graduate of Delhi University’s Miranda House and has an MBA from Amity University. For honeymoon, he wanted to go to the commonplace London and Paris, she wanted a more exotic and less travelled destination. The couple posed together on a cycle at the start of the marriage, but the mismatch was apparent within days and they have spent little time together. Tej Pratap’s grouse is that no one in his family, not even his jailed father, is sympathetic to his demand for a divorce.