Politics is often the main item on the wedding menu when children of politicians get married. NCP leader Praful Patel’s daughter’s marriage reception turned out to be a forum to set up a meeting between his boss Sharad Pawar and BSP chief Mayawati.
Mayawati herself did not attend the reception. She sent her main aide Satish Mishra instead. In between his duties as the father of the bride and host, Patel seized the occasion to facilitate a rendezvous between Mishra and Pawar. He made them sit next to each other over dinner for a long chat. It was all politics obviously.
The next thing we knew was that four days later, Mayawati travelled to New Delhi for an unpublicised meeting with Pawar. It seems NCP is keen to draw BSP into a unified opposition alliance in Maharashtra. BSP has pockets of support in Dalit areas of Vidarbha.
NCP is believed to be considering offering BSP at least two seats in the Vidarbha region. This is subject to approval from the Congress with which NCP plans to tie up for the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
NCP is also hoping to include BSP in the alliance for the state assembly election which it feels will be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha poll. The state election is due in October 2019 and there are strong indications that the BJP may advance it to bunch it with the Lok Sabha poll.
The impetus for an early assembly election is the likelihood of the Shiv Sena breaking away from the NDA to contest on its own. The BJP will then have to depend entirely on the Modi appeal to win the state.
Mayawati seems to be keen to spread her wings beyond UP. Breaking into Maharashtra with the help of the NCP and Congress would be a big boost to her ambition of being the second largest party after the Congress in a joint opposition front in 2019.
Invitees to a special screening of Anubhav Sinha’s movie “Mulk’’ at the Film Division’s auditorium on Mahadev Road were surprised and disturbed when they were told a few hours before the show that the programme had been cancelled.
The official reason given was that the projector had broken down. The excuse sounded flimsy because this is a well maintained auditorium frequented by ministers and VIPs. Such mishaps are rare.
The sudden cancellation aroused suspicions that there may have been other reasons. The Rishi Kapoor starrer revolves around the turmoil in a Muslim family when it discovers that one of its sons has become a terrorist.
The family disowns the son. The film delves into the gamut of emotions and troubles the family battles in the aftermath of the discovery. It is a sympathetic portrayal intended to counter the propaganda and suspicion that hound Muslims in India today.
The question that is troubling the invitees is whether the content of the film was politically incorrect for the government of the day and whether this was the reason for the last minute cancellation.
The screening had to be shifted to a private movie hall and the programme was completely messed up by delays and absenteeism. Many invitees did not get the message about the change in venue and simply went home when they found the doors of the Films Division auditorium shut.
Missing from list
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury has arguably been one of the most articulate parliamentarians in recent times. So, fellow MPs were surprised to find his name missing from the list of recipients for the best parliamentarian award for the years 2013-2017.
Yechury is no longer an MP, having been denied a third term by his party. But he was a Rajya Sabha MP in those five years and has an outstanding record as a speaker. In fact, when his term ended last summer, fellow MPs made emotional farewell speeches praising him to the skies for his outstanding contribution to debates in the Upper House.
It is believed that he received the highest number of recommendations from fellow MPs for the award. When his name came up for consideration by the committee which shortlists the awardees, Yechury recused himself from the discussions although he was a member.
It’s not clear what happened but according to the buzz in Parliament, Yechury’s name disappeared from the final list released by the Speaker’s office. Did bitter Left versus Right politics have something to do with it? Sadly, Parliament lost an opportunity to honour a memorable parliamentarian of our times.
Political circles have been buzzing about a missing answer to a question on demonetisation from the Rajya Sabha website. The question was asked jointly by SP MPs Neeraj Shekhar and Ravi Prakash. It pertained to unusually large deposits made in the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank in the first five days after demonetisation.
While the MPs claim that they received a written reply from the finance ministry to their question, the answer was missing from the RS website for nearly two weeks. It may be recalled that BJP president Amit Shah is one of the directors of the Bank.
It’s not clear if the omission was inadvertent. But it was only after Neeraj Shekhar raised a stink with Rajya Sabha Secretariat officials that the omission was rectified. The answer is now up on the website but it is a bland statement that says nothing. The mystery of the deposits, amounting to some Rs 750 crores, remains.