What does an angry young Kashmiri IAS officer do after he quits a secure tenured job in the government in protest against “unabated killings’’ in his home state? He joins politics, of course, as the officer in question, Shah Faesal, has himself revealed in a recent interview. The question tantalizing people in the Valley is this: which party will he join? He has denied that he plans to join a mainstream political party but those who know him well say that Faesal is probably headed to National Conference.
Activist circles in the Valley say that Faesal has been in touch with NC chief Omar Abdullah for some time now. Although he is still going through the process of “consultations’’ with friends and fellow sympathisers about his future plans, he is believed to be inclined to join NC. It still needs an official stamp which will only happen after Faesal and Abdullah meet. Interestingly, after the former IAS officer was criticized by minister of state Jitendra Singh, who accused him of lacking the courage of conviction, both Abdullah and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti jumped to Faesal’s defence. This sparked off speculation that PDP is also wooing him.
The scales seem to be tipping in NC’s favour largely because PDP hasn’t been able to wash away the taint of associating with the BJP. It will take Mehbooba time and huge effort to do that as the worsening ground situation is making Kashmiris in the Valley more and more hostile to the BJP-led central government. There is talk that Faesal will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha election and the constituency he is likely to choose is Baramullah. He hails from a remote village in Kupwara district which comes under the Baramullah Lok Sabha seat.
Choice of prabharis
BJP president Amit Shah sent out interesting messages through his choice of prabharis (persons in charge) to oversee the Lok Sabha elections in each state. He has appointed 24 prabharis and covered all the states except Maharashtra and Goa. These states remain with him for the moment. BJP circles are buzzing with speculation that Shah has kept Maharashtra with him because he is still hopeful of a tie-up with Shiv Sena.
The BJP’s oldest ally has been on the warpath for some time now and Sena boss Uddhav Thackeray has even threatened to go it alone in the Lok Sabha polls. Backroom efforts are on to bring Uddhav around and hammer out a prepoll alliance with Shiv Sena. Shah is acutely aware that despite the BJP’s increased strength in Maharashtra, it will lose heavily against the Congress-NCP combine if it fights the election alone.
Till the alliance issue is settled with the Sena, Shah is reluctant to appoint a prabhari for Maharashtra. If the Sena agrees to a tie-up, a pro-Sena prabhari will have to be chosen. If it refuses, then Shah is likely to go for an aggressive anti- Sena leader to run the election campaign in the state. The decision to keep Goa with himself is also interesting. BJP circles see it as an admission that the party top brass is unsure about chief minister Manohar Parrikar’s state of health. If Parrikar is well enough to campaign, then Shah is likely to appoint a prabhari of the CM’s choice. Otherwise, he will go in for someone the RSS would be comfortable with.
There is another message from the choice of prabharis. This has to do with union minister of state Kalraj Misra’s political future. Misra has been appointed prabhari for Haryana. He is the only Lok Sabha MP on the list. All the others are either Rajya Sabha MPs or political leaders without constituency responsibilities. Within the BJP, Misra’s appointment as prabhari is being seen as a signal that he will not be given a ticket to contest the 2019 election. Misra is already two years past the 75 years age limit the party had set in 2014 for contesting polls.
That he has not yet been dropped from the Cabinet is a surprise. When he turned 75, it was widely expected that Narendra Modi would ease him out of the council of ministers and give him a gubernatorial assignment like he gave Najma Heptullah when she crossed the 75 age bar.
Sonia Gandhi created a flutter in Parliament just before the winter session ended when she came to Central Hall and stood for several minutes scanning those around. She seemed to be looking for someone. That someone turned out to be NCP MP Supriya Sule. Sonia went up to her and handed over her mobile phone earphones which Supriya had forgotten in the Lok Sabha.
It seems during the quota debate, Supriya shifted to sit next to Rahul Gandhi who sits just behind Sonia. Supriya and Rahul had a long animated chat. Some say she was with him for nearly half an hour. When she finally left, Supriya forgot her earphones on the table. Sonia saw them and retrieved them before they went missing. When she left the House, she solicitously tracked down Supriya and returned her property.
So much for astrology
Two unlikely persons who share a birthday are Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple and BSP chief Mayawati. Both were born on January 15 but they are polar opposites. Mayawati usually makes a big show of her birthday by cutting an enormous cake in front of her supporters and media persons and getting her party to collect money on the occasion. Dimple, on the other hand, prefers to spend the day quietly at home with her family. She tends to shun big celebrations. So much for astrology. Two persons born under the same sign but with completely different personalities.