The BJP’s rebellious Lok Sabha MP from Patna and film actor, Shatrughan Sinha, seems to have finally made up his mind to go his own way.
In a move that seems to have angered bosses Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, Sinha visited his party’s bête noire in Bihar, Lalu Yadav, in Ranchi hospital. Lalu was shifted there recently from jail on health grounds.
Lalu is the BJP’s chief rival in Bihar and after his party’s recent by-poll victories, the antagonism between them is rising to boiling point. So far, Sinha’s party has not reacted officially to the meeting but internally, there’s a lot of muscle flexing and back-biting going on.
Threats are being tossed around that Sinha will be denied a BJP ticket in 2019. And it’s not stopping at just the actor.
BJP circles are threatening the other Sinha, Jayant, and warning that he too will not get a ticket next year because of his father, Yashwant, and their association with Shatrughan.
It’s all very messy and ugly. Sinha’s next move is not known yet. But clearly the MP from Patna is looking at the 2019 election and his prospects for re-election from Bihar’s capital.
The by polls have shown that Lalu may be in jail but he retains his charisma, popularity and hold over his vote base. He poses a potent challenge to the BJP in Bihar.
Lalu’s Muslim-Yadav constituency is a strong force in Patna. Sinha will probably need Lalu’s blessings to win the next election.
Congress Lok Sabha MP from Gurdaspur in Punjab, Sunil Jakhar, has proposed a novel idea to his party leadership to gain political mileage out of the current impasse in Parliament over the TDP’s no-confidence motion.
He has suggested that opposition parties conduct a parallel sitting of Parliament in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in the forecourt.
A parallel sitting will give opposition parties an opportunity to speak out and since the venue will be in front of the spot allotted to TV cameras, the proceedings are likely to be telecast live on various channels.
Apparently, Sonia Gandhi is quite taken with the idea but Jakhar has to put it to Rahul Gandhi who is now the Congress president.
Other opposition parties will also have to be on board. Who knows, the government may choose to have the Lok Sabha adjourned sine die before Jakhar’s novel plan is put into action.
Speculation is rife that the Lok Sabha may go into the summer break early next week. Only the Rajya Sabha will continue to meet because the House has to bid farewell to retiring members and welcome new members by April 2.
Since the Rajya Sabha plays no role in a no-confidence motion, the government can comfortably allow the Upper House to carry on as usual.
Even as reports circulate about a SP-BSP-RLD tie-up for the Lok Sabha by poll due in UP’s Kairana, political circles speculate that the Modi government may chicken out of holding the election.
The decision rests in the hands of the Election Commission but most political leaders feel that the EC is under pressure not to announce the date of the by-poll.
After the losses in Gorakhpur and Phulpur, the BJP is feeling vulnerable and doesn’t want to risk another defeat at the hands of the SP-BSP in Kairana.
According to political circles, the EC can take advantage of a loophole in the rules to not hold the by-poll. The seat fell vacant because of sitting BJP MP Hukum Singh’s death on February 3 this year.
It is strange that the EC did not hold the Kairana by poll along with Gorakhpur and Phulpur. This has fuelled speculation that the BJP is running away from a contest in Kairana.
The EC has to hold the by poll within six months of the seat falling vacant, that is it should be held by July. But there is a provision in the rules that if a general election is due in less than one year, then there is no need for a by-poll.
Since the 2019 Lok Sabha election has to take place before May next year, it gives the EC enough leeway to postpone the Kairana by-poll and save the BJP from another possible setback in UP.
The behavior of K Chandrasekhar Rao’s TRS MPs has aroused suspicions among opposition circles about the nature of his relationship with the Modi government.
On the one hand, he travelled all the way to Kolkata to meet Mamata Banerjee and discuss the formation of a federal front to fight Modi and the BJP.
On the other hand, his MPs swarm into the Well of the Lok Sabha every day, wave placards, shout slogans and disrupt proceedings. This gives Speaker Sumitra Mahajan an excuse to adjourn the House instead of taking up the TDP’s no-confidence motion.
Opposition leaders suspect that there is a secret understanding between the TRS and sections of the AIADMK to disrupt the House so that the no-confidence motion is not discussed and put to vote.
They believe that the government does not want a discussion on the motion although it has the numbers to defeat it and consolidate its position.
Is the TRS playing a double game then? This is what many in the opposition feel and they have warned Mamata not to trust KCR.
Rift over Gorakhpur?
Yogi Adityanath’s supporters are squarely blaming Amit Shah, Sunil Bansal and Shiv Pratap Shukla for the BJP’s defeat in Gorakhpur. According to Yogi loyalists, the UP chief minister had wanted a candidate from the Gorakhpur mutt to contest the by-election.
He had suggested the names of three possible candidates, all associated with the mutt for many years. His argument was that Gorakhpur voters are loyal to the mutt, not the BJP.
The argument did not find favour with Shah and his key advisors on UP. Sunil Bansal, UP BJP’s organizing secretary and RSS leaders, is one such powerful voice.
They felt that the BJP must reclaim Gorakhpur from the mutt so that it doesn’t remain Yogi’s personal fiefdom.
They turned to Shukla to suggest a Brahmin candidate to clip the wings of the powerful Thakur lobby.
The candidate lost and the BJP suffered a major blow. The defeat has caused a rift between Yogi supporters and the rest of the party.