Winning the upcoming municipal election in Delhi has become a matter of survival for Arvind Kejriwal and his AAP government in the capital. If he loses, the defeat could well pave the way for the demise of his two year old government.
The ground has already been prepared for the death sentence. A case is pending with the Election Commission for the disqualification of 21 AAP MLAs who were appointed parliamentary secretaries. The charge is that the appointment violated the provisions of the Office of Profit Act.
The AAP government’s health minister Satyendra Jain is being investigated by the CBI on charges of corruption and could soon be arrested. Chief Minister Kejriwal himself is facing a jail term if he loses the criminal defamation case filed against him by Arun Jaitley. And if BJP sources are to be believed, several AAP MLAs are ready to jump ship and join the saffron side.
The BJP and Congress agree on one thing. Both want to finish off Kejriwal and his AAP. They feel threatened by their brand of politics.
Kejriwal is surviving so far because both the BJP and Congress are scared to touch him. They fear his popularity. They think any move to dislodge him could backfire by turning Kejriwal into a hero.
This is why the MCD election has become so important. It is being seen as a referendum on Kejriwal and his AAP government, a test of their popularity among the people of Delhi. A defeat for AAP will give the BJP and Congress the courage to strike. All the pending cases are likely to be activated and the noose could slowly tighten around the necks of AAP leaders including Kejriwal.
Be prepared for the strange spectacle of the BJP and Congress joining hands to celebrate the murder of democracy in Delhi.
Change in Gujarat?
The BJP grapevine is buzzing with speculation that there could be a change of chief minister in Gujarat after Modi’s recent visit to his home state where he sounded the bugle for the assembly polls at the end of the year. According to saffron circles, there is a move to put a Patel leader as CM with the aim of winning back the support of the community.
The name doing the rounds is that of Parsottambhai Rupala, currently minister of state for agriculture in the Modi government and a member of the Rajya Sabha. Consider his qualifications. He is a Kadva Patel and is considered an influential member of the community. He is a Modi-Shah loyalist. He was part of the campaign team for Modi in Varanasi for the 2014 election.
The current CM, Vijay Rupani, belongs to the Jain community and was always seen as a stop gap arrangement when Anandiben Patel had to be removed for administrative incompetence. BJP circles say that Modi and Shah planned to assess the mood of the Patel community during his two-day visit over the weekend and then take a call on whether or not to change the CM.
Jaya Bachchan had a surprise visitor on her birthday last Sunday: Mamata Banerjee. The West Bengal chief minister was in Delhi to attend the Inter-State Council meeting. She decided to drop into Jaya’s recently acquired and newly renovated bungalow in Lodi Estate to wish her a happy birthday.
Mamata is very close to the Bachchans and holds both Amitabh and Jaya in high regard. Amitabh has inaugurated the Kolkata International Film Festival five times in a row. He’s clearly a favourite with Mamata. The fiery Trinamool chief confided that she often exchanges SMS messages with the Bollywood actor and he responds immediately. So it was no surprise that Mamata took time off from a busy political schedule to touch base with Jaya on her birthday. They spent nearly an hour together and Mamata was impressed by the elegant interiors of Jaya’s bungalow.
Jaya Bachchan no longer travels back to Mumbai for the weekends when Parliament is in session. She says she finds it too fatiguing. Sadly, her family in Mumbai had work commitments so couldn’t fly to Delhi to be with her on her birthday.
Modi has finally proved that he can outstrip Vajpayee when it comes to winning friends and influencing people. The Modi-led NDA has as many as 33 parties including the BJP. The Vajpayee-led alliance had just 24.
Modi’s allies come from far and wide, from Meghalaya in the Northeast to Kerala in the deep south. Most of them are tiny parties but so what? The numbers add up to an impressive 33.
It was interesting that Modi chose to host a dinner for his alliance partners just before the budget session of Parliament ended. It was the first such dinner in his three years as prime minister.
The motive was clear. He’s looking at the upcoming election to choose the next President of India and is trying to keep his flock together through good will gestures like dinner parties. The BJP on its own is short of numbers and will need the help of all NDA partners plus a few others like BJD and AIADMK to elect a person of its choice as President.
With the Opposition toying with the idea of nominating a joint candidate to force a contest, numbers have become crucial. Modi is already looking ahead. He was particularly convivial at the NDA dinner-cum-meeting and gave full play to each and every NDA partner to speak. As a result the dinner went on well beyond midnight!