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Thakur Raj in UP under Yogi

Arati R Jerath | New Delhi |

Has UP gone from Yadav raj to Thakur raj under Yogi Adityanath? An interesting list is in circulation about the rash of transfers and postings at the district level after Adityanath, a Thakur, became UP chief minister. According to this list, more than half the newly appointed district magistrates and superintendents of police are Thakurs.

When Akhilesh Yadav was in power, Yadavs ruled the roost. The difference between then and now is that in the SP regime, Yadavs dominated at the bottom of the power pyramid. A large number of SHOs, Inspectors, tehsildars etc were Yadavs.

Thakurs are traditionally a wealthier and more educated caste which is why they populate the IAS and IPS rather than the provincial services which is full of Yadavs. Consequently, the control of UP’s districts is passing into the hands of Thakurs through the posts of DM and SP. Interestingly, the newly appointed boss of the state police is a Thakur, Sulkhan Singh.

The recent Thakur-Dalit violence in Saharanpur has sparked off fears of a backlash to Yogi’s Thakur raj. People in UP are beginning to ask whether they have exchanged one caste-based oppressive regime for another.

Although Adityanath promised to restore law and order in UP after a crime-filled spell of Yadav raj, crime figures have spiked since he assumed power. Rapes, dacoities, murders and other heinous crimes have shot up in the past two months. And now with Thakurs flexing their muscle with the lower castes, BJP circles are beginning to worry about the political consequences of Thakur raj on their electoral fortunes in 2019.

Patel worried

A critical figure in the Congress party’s power structure, Ahmed Patel, is due to retire from the Rajya Sabha this coming August. Under normal circumstances, there should have been no question mark over his re-election. But suddenly, Congress circles are worried.

It seems Amit Shah is determined to split the Congress party in Gujarat and has been meeting former BJP chief minister now with the Congress Shanker Sinh Vaghela to sound him out. The question is whether Vaghela can get enough MLAs to cross the floor with him to demolish the Congress strength in the assembly.

If a split does take place, it will be difficult for the Congress to send Ahmed Patel back to the Rajya Sabha. It will not have sufficient numbers to get him elected from Gujarat. And since the Congress footprint is shrinking across the country as it loses state election after state election, Patel may just be stuck. There is no other state from which he can get elected in this round of polling. Currently, he is a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat.

Congress sources say Patel is spending more and more time in his home state these days. His primary task is to oversee the Congress campaign there for the assembly election later this year. But his other task is to protect his RS seat by preventing the party from falling prey to Shah’s machinations.

The stakes are high for the Congress. After all, Patel is the party’s main troubleshooter even today. Remember how even as recently as January this year, he had to step in when the Congress-SP alliance for the UP polls almost didn’t happen because of a tussle over seats?

Fond farewell

President Pranab Mukherjee’s press secretary Venu Rajamony is probably the first to have been honoured with an official farewell tea by Rashtrapati Bhavan. A large number of media persons were invited and Mukherjee too graced the occasion.

The farewell tea indicates how important Rajamony has been in Mukherjee’s setup. Apart from being accessible and affable, he reinvented the way Rashtrapati Bhavan interacts with the media. From the formal, fuddyduddy rare press releases, the President’s office under Mukherjee and Rajamony has been media friendly. It has used various media platforms including social media to spread the message of activities at Rashtrapati Bhavan and the many changes that Mukherjee brought in to preserve the heritage of this grand colonial building. In fact, one complaint against Rajamony was that his office would flood mailboxes of media persons with an overload of information!

Rajamony has been with Mukherjee for seven years, from the latter’s days as finance minister. He is now off to the Netherlands as India’s ambassador.

The farewell tea also turned out to be Mukherjee’s last interaction with the media before he demits office in June. He refused to reveal his post-retirement plans. “I will let you know,” he told media persons mysteriously.

Law officers

Is there going to be a major reshuffle of the central government’s law officers? The buzz is that a slew of new faces may be appointed to the legal team next month when the current team’s tenure ends. All the law officers were appointed for three years when the Modi government assumed office in 2014.

The biggest question marks are over the continuation of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, both buddies of Arun Jaitley who had a big hand in their appointment three years ago. The buzz is that Rohatgi is unsure about wanting to stay on in government because he is losing out on a lucrative private practice. The AG’s post is more prestige than money.

Legal circles are reading a signal for change in the government’s decision to field Harish Salve to fight India’s case at the International Court of Justice to save Jadhav. They had expected Rohatgi to lead the defence team. But Salve was requested instead and he did it for a token fee of Re. 1.

It may be recalled that Salve was Modi’s first choice for the post of AG but at that time the legal eagle had international commitments which he could not give up.