Prime Minister Modi is known to be curious to see and know more about institutions and people he has to deal with, even if it is done informally. For instance, recently, while in a helicopter on his way back to Gandhinagar, he asked the pilot to divert the chopper so that it could make several rounds over a huge new Patel complex that is coming up near Kathiawar. Modi, who had to face the fury of the Patels in the last Gujarat Assembly elections, was keen to see the progress on the site, which will include a community centre and a temple. Last week, Supreme Court judges were taken aback when the Prime Minister turned up at the court on Sunday night at a routine dinner following an international judicial conference of judges of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). Modi, who was invited as a matter of courtesy by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, reached at 8 pm, mingled with all the judges present and was reluctant to leave even after dinner. The PM asked Justice Gogoi if it was possible for him to visit Court Number 1 where important cases are heard. The room was opened after a frantic search for the chowkidar who had the key. Modi sat on the front bench and asked several questions about the proceedings. The PM had a cup of tea and stayed on till 10 pm.
The Government of India’s calendar for next year is almost ready with photographs of Prime Minister Modi highlighting major social welfare schemes in the country. Opposition parties, however, object to the release of the calendar and plan to petition President Ram Nath Kovind, arguing that when the model code of conduct for the 2019 elections comes into effect for the Lok Sabha polls, displaying the calendar would amount to misuse of government facilities. The Congress, however, is not at the forefront of the campaign since it is on a weak wicket. Calendars with Dr Manmohan Singh’s photographs and the UPA government’s schemes were on display during both the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
UP on auto pilot?
Many wonder how Yogi Adityanath manages to govern Uttar Pradesh since he has been busy on the campaign trail addressing some 70 campaign rallies in other states in the last 60 days. His supporters say the Chief Minister travels by the state aircraft during the day and returns home every evening so that he can sign files at night. While officially, Deputy CM Dinesh Sharma is the man in charge in Yogi’s absence, in reality, it is the CM’s principal secretary, Shashi Prakash Goyal, who officiates. Many from the state, however, believe that UP is running on auto pilot. They point to how, even when Yogi is in UP, he is unable to do much to control law and order. Last week, when Bulandshahr was roiling over the discovery of animal carcasses in a field, followed by the shooting of SHO Subodh Kumar Singh in mob violence, Yogi was attending a sound-and-light show and later a kabaddi match.
Sinha’s book rush
Hell hath no fury like a politician scorned. Yashwant Sinha, finance and external affairs minister in the Vajpayee regime, is getting his own back on Narendra Modi for not making use of his abilities. In January, Sinha will release two books. One is his autobiography and the other an analysis of the Modi regime. Two more books authored by him will follow shortly afterwards — a critique on India’s foreign policy since Nehru’s time and an analysis on how the GST legislation has evolved.
Now that he is Vice-President, Venkaiah Naidu cannot make the same witty asides and alliterations as freely as he did when he was a politician. But occasionally, he cannot resist the temptation. Asked recently about the impending Parliament session, he remarked, “Either they will talk it out or walk it out. If they fall out, democracy will be all out.’’
Allies fall out
Prashant Kishor was successful in his first task assigned to him by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar after joining the JD(U). The master strategist helped the Chhatra JD(U) win the key posts of president and treasurer in the Patna University Students’ Union election. The downside is that, in the process, he infuriated the JD(U)’s ally, the BJP, since the well-entrenched ABVP was the Chhatra JD(U)’s main rival. A group of ABVP students even stoned Kishor’s car. Kishor now claims he will train one lakh youth in Bihar to campaign for the 2019 election.