Has the relationship between Narendra Modi and his favourite officer from Gujarat, finance secretary Hansmukh Adhia, hit a rough patch? There is considerable speculation that all is not well between the two after Adhia missed being appointed cabinet secretary and then proceeded on long leave ostensibly for a yoga holiday with his guru Swami Visharadanand Saraswati in Mysuru.
Cabinet secretary P K Sinha was recently given a second one-year extension. The decision surprised bureaucratic circles as everyone had expected that Adhia would be elevated to the post. Adhia is known to be close to Modi and it is said, he was being specially groomed to take over as cabinet secretary at a time when the government would be preparing for the crucial 2019 polls.
After he was overlooked for the coveted post, Adhia proceeded on a 16-day holiday. This is not only an unusually long vacation for someone in a critical post like finance secretary, it has also raised eyebrows because finance minister Arun Jaitley is virtually out of action as he awaits a kidney transplant.
Although Jaitley is said to be attending to files from his residence, he is not allowed visitors and access to him is highly restricted.
It is worth noting that recently two high-profile figures in RSS circles, Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy and S Gurumurthy, have trained their guns on Adhia. A website run by Gurumurthy’s associates has carried at least five articles in the past two months accusing Adhia on two counts: one for “protecting” fraudster diamond jeweler Nirav Modi and the other for mishandling the transition to GST.
Interestingly, the website also mentioned the gold bars Adhia is supposed to have received last Diwali from Nirav Modi. Adhia said he handed the bars over to the government toshkhana.
HD vs HD?
There seem to be serious differences between H D Deve Gowda and his son H D Kumaraswamy on the issue of a post poll alliance should their JD(S) win enough seats in a hung assembly to play kingmaker.
Old Socialist friends of Deve Gowda in other parties have been in touch with him to impress on him not to form a government with the BJP. They have been pressing him to join the united opposition effort to defeat Modi in 2019.
One of the key interlocutors with Deve Gowda is believed to be Andhra chief minister Chandrababu Naidu. It seems Deve Gowda has been assuring his old pals that he will not go with the BJP and will try to work out an arrangement with the Congress.
However, Kumaraswamy is said to be keen on an alliance with the BJP, specially if the saffron party agrees to make him chief minister. According to the political grapevine, Kumaraswamy feels he can get a good deal from the BJP because the latter is not keen on appointing Yeddyurappa CM. An alliance with JD(S) would give Amit Shah an excuse to dump Yeddyurappa, say political circles.
Clearly, there will be a tussle between father and son after the results are out. Most people expect Kumaraswamy to win this fight because he is the future of JD(S) while Deve Gowda was its past.
Bonhomie with Pawar
An interesting development in the ongoing effort for opposition unity is the emerging rapport between Rahul Gandhi and Sharad Pawar. According to opposition sources, the scion of the Gandhi family has taken to meeting Pawar regularly to exchange views on current affairs and seek advice on politics.
In fact, just last week, Rahul called on Pawar at his residence in Delhi to finalise the tie-up for the upcoming Lok Sabha bye-poll in Maharashtra and the panchayat polls.
Political circles are surprised by the budding relationship. Remember, it was Pawar who flagged Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origins in 1999 and was expelled from the Congress for refuting her credentials to become prime minister of India.
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge in the 20 years since that eventful day and the Gandhi family seems to have decided to forgive and forget.
Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule played a role in helping to cement ties between the two families. She has been socializing a lot with younger Congress leaders considered close to Rahul.
As a result of this new closeness, Pawar has become the strongest advocate of the Congress in talks for opposition unity. The NCP boss has a formidable network of friends across the political spectrum and wields a lot of influence.
It was on his advice that Mamata Banerjee gave up her opposition to the Congress and conceded that any anti-Modi effort must include the grand old party of Indian politics.
Political circles are puzzled by the trouble Amit Shah has been having with interpreters through his hectic election campaign in Karnataka. Surely, the BJP with all its resources can get the best translators.
But Shah has been let down by his interpreters on more than one occasion, leaving the audience in splits of laughter at the wrong translation. Shah himself has not hidden his anger over the incompetence of his interpreters and has scolded them on stage in full view of the audience.
In fact, at a recent meeting, he got very upset with the young woman doing the translation on his behalf. While Shah ranted about Rahul Gandhi, the interpreter somehow omitted Rahul’s name when she translated.
Shah noticed immediately and ticked her off. He repeated his lines but curiously, the interpreter again did not take Rahul’s name.
Furious, Shah ordered her off the stage and looked around for another interpreter. A party worker standing on the dais obliged. He was careful to mention Rahul’s name in his translation.