After the recent poster controversy on Twitter, Mayawati’s BSP has gone cold on social media.

The party has deleted its twitter handle that put up the offending poster showing Mayawati in the company of opposition leaders including Sonia Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav and Lalu Yadav.

It has also disbanded the social media team that was put together for the UP elections to create a BSP presence on platforms like Facebook, What’s App, Twitter etc. This was the party’s first experiment with social media and having burnt its fingers, it has retreated from the world of technology.

The controversial poster was created by a BSP enthusiast who wanted to circulate it among friends and supporters to build up pressure on the party leadership to join a united opposition front against the BJP. No one is quite sure how it found its way to the twitter handle that the party had used during the UP polls to post messages and circulate statements and news. This is not an official party handle but was being used as one for the duration of the assembly elections. Apparently, Mayawati was furious when she saw the poster tweet.

The tweet went viral and immediately set off speculation about the BSP joining an anti-Modi front. Mayawati was annoyed that the tweet had jumped the gun before she had negotiated a proper deal for herself with other opposition leaders.

She seems to be angling for a prominent place for herself, perhaps as the PM face, in an opposition front. The tweet was deleted. Then the Twitter handle itself was deleted. Subsequently, Mayawati held a press conference to clarify her position on a joint opposition front for the 2019 polls. She said yes to opposition unity.

But she set her own terms and demanded that the issue of seat sharing be settled before holding opposition rallies like the one organised by Lalu Yadav in Patna on August 27. Because of the fiasco over the poster tweet, the BSP decided not participate in Lalu’s rally, not even through the token presence of Mayawati’s closest aide Satish Mishra.

Third chair blues

The BJP is so rattled by the Election Commission’s decision in the recent Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat that the government has been unable to settle on someone to fill the third vacancy in the Commission. The EC had ruled in favour of the Congress demand to disqualify two votes. The ruling enabled Congress leader Ahmed Patel to win his seat, thereby upsetting Amit Shah’s plans to cripple his main opponent before the November-December assembly polls.

The BJP is particularly upset because it had assumed that the current chief election commissioner, Achal Joti, and election commissioner O P Rawat are loyalists of the current dispensation. Joti was chief secretary in Gujarat when Narendra Modi was chief minister. He was handpicked as CEC by the PM and Amit Shah.

Rawat is a Madhya Pradesh cadre officer, considered close to BJP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan. In fact, Chauhan had lobbied hard to have him appointed as EC. A third position is vacant after Naseem Zaidi retired in early July this year. BJP circles are grumbling that the two election commissioners have stabbed the party in the back.

Can babus be trusted, they ask. This is why it is becoming so difficult to find someone to fill the third vacancy in the Commission. The person who is appointed to the third slot is very critical because he or she will mostly likely head the Commission when the 2019 polls are held. Joti and Rawat will have retired by then.

The search is on for a loyalist. But after the EC’s decision ended up helping Patel to win the RS election, BJP circles are no longer sure whether any bureaucrat can be termed a loyalist.

Battle royale

The fight between Nitish Kumar and his former party president Sharad Yadav is turning ugly. After Yadav joined Lalu’s show of opposition strength in Patna last weekend, Nitish has decided to seek his expulsion from the Rajya Sabha for “antiparty activities”. If his request is granted, Yadav stands to lose not only his membership of the Upper House but also his Lutyen’s Delhi bungalow in which he has been living for many years.

Sharad Yadav has hit back by filing a petition with the Election Commission demanding that the JD(U) election symbol be allotted to him. His argument is that he is the founder of the JD(U) when the Samata Party split in rebellion against George Fernandes. He feels that the election symbol, an arrow, rightfully belongs to him and not Nitish. Interestingly, the case is being argued on Yadav’s behalf by Congress leader Kapil Sibal.

Remember that Sibal had won the symbol fight for Akhilesh Yadav just before the UP assembly polls. Nitish is clearly hoping that his demand for Yadav’s expulsion will be favourably considered by the Rajya Sabha chairman who is the new vice president Venkaiah Naidu.

Political circles are watching with bated breath for the outcome of this war of nerves between two former comrades and stalwarts of the fight against Emergency.

Gate-crasher

Former prime minister of Maldives Mohammad Nasheed happily gatecrashed a reception hosted by the Nepalese ambassador to India in honour of the visiting Nepalese PM Sher Bahadur Deuba.

Nasheed was on a private visit to India and when he heard that Deuba would be attending a reception in the hotel where he was staying, he decided to seize the opportunity to build some neighbourly goodwill.

Without batting an eyelid, he walked into the reception without an invitation. The Nepalese graciously welcomed him and Deuba had a nice chat with the former Maldives PM. The reception also provided Nasheed with an opportunity to meet India’s movers and shakers under one roof.