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Fast, breakfast and flop fast

Arati R Jerath |

The Congress has only its own stupidity to blame for the leaked video of its leaders stuffing themselves with chhole-bhature before the protest fast at Rajghat led by Rahul Gandhi. The video went viral and caused the party huge embarrassment as the BJP slammed its “fake” fast.

It seems the Congress party’s Delhi unit had actually arranged breakfast at one of Chandni Chowk’s famous chole-bhature eateries and invited local leaders to eat before proceeding to Rajghat for the fast.

The invitation went out to all and sundry in the Delhi Congress over What’s App. In an effort to draw in as many people as possible for the fast, the What’s App message also circulated pictures of the lavish breakfast on offer.

Someone leaked the pictures to the BJP. The saffron party grabbed the opportunity with both hands and went to town about the “fake” Congress fast.

Embarrassed Congress leaders couldn’t even deny it because the pictures showed Delhi biggies like Ajay Maken, Haroon Yusuf and Arvinder Singh Lovely digging into crisp deep fried bhature before the fast.

The circulation of the embarrassing pictures forced a hurried change in Rahul Gandhi’s plans. He was supposed to reach Rajghat at 1 pm and stay for an hour in symbolic support of the fast. But as TV channels and BJP leaders had a field day with the pictures, he decided to extend his sit-in and stayed till 4 pm.

This created an additional headache for the Delhi Congress. It had to rustle up a crowd at the last minute to sit with Rahul. This proved to be a difficult task because Congress workers disappeared for an afternoon snooze after their heavy breakfast. The result was a flop fast and all-round embarrassment for Rahul and the Delhi Congress.

Karnataka test for unity

The growing clamour for opposition unity to fight Narendra Modi and the BJP in 2019 is fast changing equations for the upcoming Karnataka elections. And the fall guy is Deve Gowda and his JD(S) which have been left isolated.

Deve Gowda had grandly announced an electoral pact with Mayawati’s BSP in the state. He was also in negotiations with Owaisi’s MIM and Sharad Pawar’s NCP to join the alliance.

After the successful SP-BSP pact which crushed the BJP in the recent Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bye-polls, it looks like Deve Gowda’s plan for a third front in Karnataka has hit a major road block.

Owaisi and Pawar have indicated that they are not interested in a poll alliance with the JD(S). In fact, they have said they don’t even want to contest in Karnataka because they don’t want to divide the anti-BJP votes. There are no plans for more rallies. Mayawati’s candidates are not campaigning. And Deve Gowda is finding it difficult to contact her.

All signs point to an understanding among regional parties that Congress has to be a part of any united fight against the BJP in 2019. Consequently, none of them wants to weaken the Congress in its core areas of which Karnataka is a key state.

It increasingly looks like the Karnataka battle will be a straight fight between the Congress and the BJP except in the southern areas of the state. Here, in Deve Gowda’s Vokkaliga stronghold, it will be a face-off between Congress and JD(S). The BJP doesn’t figure here.

The new equation among opposition parties has derailed the BJP’s plan for a three-cornered contest in Karnataka between the Congress, BJP and a third front of regional parties. The BJP benefits in a multi-cornered fight.

Off to see PM

Actor Priyanka Chopra breezed into a book release function last week and created a flutter. The book was an autobiography written by one of Delhi’s most famous pathologists and the audience wondered what the connection was between the doctor and the actor.

Priyanka revealed that the bond was Haidakhan Baba in whose ashram she spent many memorable moments as a child. The actor’s parents are devout members of the Haidakhandi samaj and took Priyanka to the ashram frequently while she was growing up.

In her speech at the book launch, Priyanka recalled that she used to climb trees with the doctor’s daughter at the ashram. She said Haidakhan baba has been a huge influence in her life.

That said, the actor suddenly announced that she had to leave because she was due to meet Narendra Modi. She said coyly that it was difficult to find a mutually convenient time because of their respective busy schedules but they finally managed to fix an appointment.

She waved goodbye to the openmouthed audience and left. But some guests noticed that this time, she was wearing a salwar kurta, not a dress like she wore to her last meeting with Modi in Germany. After that meeting, Priyanka was trolled for being “disrespectful” to the PM by wearing a dress.

Sanger row

If BJP circles are to be believed, Amit Shah has been putting huge pressure on Yogi Adityanath to have rape-accused MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar arrested. In fact, Shah is believed to have proposed a three-point action plan to Yogi.

First step is to file an FIR with sections that leave no option for the police but to arrest Sengar. The second step is to transfer the case to the CBI. The third step is to take disciplinary action against Sengar.

This was all supposed to happen on Thursday. Yogi is believed to have agreed. So, what changed? An Fir has been registered but the state police did not arrest Sengar as Yogi promised.

Instead, he has passed on the onus of arrest to the CBI, which means the central government. Yogi seems to be more interested in keeping his Thakur vote base happy than in being a good administrator.