While H D Kumaraswamy was in Delhi handing out bouquets to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, his 85-year-old father Deve Gowda was photographed speaking to the Karnataka chief secretary and police commissioner at his Bengaluru residence. This was a major embarrassment for the JD(S)’s new ally. The Congress apprehends that Gowda would repeat the pattern of behaviour of a decade ago, when Dharam Singh was the Congress CM but Gowda was the power behind the throne and summoned officials with files to his residence. The JD(S) maintains that the two officials were merely paying a courtesy call. But bureaucrats admit privately that if Gowda telephones and says he wants to meet them, protocol demands that they must call on a former prime minister not vice versa. Gowda and his son have already started playing the good cop/bad cop roles, when differences cropped up with the Congress over accommodating Kumaraswamy’s old rivals, D K Shivakumar and M B Patil, in government and over conflicting priorities in the two manifestos. Meanwhile, Amit Shah, who believes that an ungrateful JD(S) gained additional seats because of a tacit understanding with the BJP during the polls, now talks privately of a Gowda-mukt Karnataka.
Missing on Dais
In the crush of the Opposition jamboree in Bengaluru, nobody seemed to notice that one perennial participant, Farooq Abdullah, was missing from the dais. Abdullah claimed it was because he had to release A S Dulat’s book on India-Pakistan relations in Delhi. But that seemed a weak excuse given that there were several VIPs at the book launch. The surmise is that Abdullah wants to keep his options open since relations between the two allies, Mehbooba Mufti and the BJP, are fast deteriorating. Son Omar Abdullah, who would normally have attended, is out of India.
Too many ch(i)efs
Congress leaders in Madhya Pradesh are dreaming of a pre-election alliance with the BSP and the Gondwana party. In the past, the BSP has declined offers from the Congress for an alliance in Uttar Pradesh, demanding that an electoral tie-up has to be all over the country. A suitably humbled Congress seems ready to climb down and consider the proposal. Kamal Nath, Digvijaya Singh, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Suresh Pachouri all sense a window of opportunity for the Assembly polls later this year, if the alliance comes about. Calculations show that the Congress would have won 53 more seats in 2013 with a tie-up. The problem for the Congress central leadership is that there are too many contenders jostling for the chief minister’s post. To keep the many feuding chieftains in the state happy, the leadership had perforce to give each one a suitable title. Nath got the prime position of president of the state unit, but Scindia has been declared election campaign chief. Digvijaya is coordination committee chief and Suresh Pachouri election planning committee chief.
Only after clearance
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti announced after an all-party meeting that there would be a unilateral ceasefire by armed forces in the state during the holy month of Ramzan. Ram Madhav, BJP general secretary in charge of J&K, objected that there could not be a one-way ceasefire. If the terrorists did not observe the temporary truce, the Army would have perforce to retaliate. Madhav apparently was not aware that Mufti made the announcement after first checking with the all-powerful National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. Incidentally, those puzzled as to why one still reads about deaths across the Indo-Pak border in the newspapers, it is because Mufti’s ceasefire was only about halting operations against terrorist camps on the basis of tip-offs and not against the Pakistani Army.
Under the radar
Zafar Sareshwala, an old friend of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was taken aback when last month Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani did not show up for his popular ‘Taleem ki Taqat’ function in Ahmedabad after earlier giving a suitable date. Sareshwala, who has organised numerous such programmes for empowering Muslim youth, was taken aback by Rupani’s ‘ill manners’. Most Central ministers and chief ministers, as well as leading bankers, are keen to attend his programmes and workshops. Some suspect that Rupani’s absenteeism is because of a minority bias. In fact, many others have similar complaints. Rupani is reportedly lying low because of instructions from New Delhi. The BJP central leadership is apprehensive of deputy chief minister, Nitin Patel, who, as finance minister, is sitting over numerous files and not clearing projects. The political buzz is that he could bolt along with 25 other MLAs. Whether the rumour is true or not, the Gujarat government is virtually at a standstill.