Is senior Congress leader Kamal Nath following in the footsteps of Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh? The buzz in Congress circles is that Kamal Nath has threatened to quit the party if he is not projected as the chief ministerial candidate in next year’s assembly poll in Madhya Pradesh.
This is what transpired with Amarinder before the assembly election in Punjab. In fact, Amarinder had opened channels with the BJP to discuss the possibility of floating a regional party and having an alliance with the saffron force to fight both the Congress and the Akali Dal. It was only after Sonia Gandhi intervened personally that Amarinder decided to stay back in the Congress. Sonia assured Amarinder that he would be the CM face. She is also believed to have admonished Rahul who was promoting Pratap Singh Bajwa. Sonia’s political sense paid off because Amarinder saved the party’s honour in the last round of assembly elections by leading the Congress to victory in Punjab.
The buzz about Kamal Nath has grown louder after his recent meeting with Sonia Gandhi. He believes that he can pull off a victory for the Congress in MP where the BJP government of Shiv Raj Singh Chauhan is facing a three-term anti-incumbency. But the trade-off is this: Kamal Nath wants to be projected as CM and wants the kind of autonomy that was given to Amarinder in Punjab. Interestingly, there are reports that he has been in touch with the BJP. At one point, it was even being speculated that he may join the BJP.
Here again, Rahul is proving to be a spoke in the wheel. Congress sources say he is pushing for Jyotiraditya Scindia to lead the party in the MP polls. Congress sources say a compromise formula is being worked on. Under this formula, one leader will go back to Madhya Pradesh as the CM nominee and the other will take over from Mallikarjun Kharge as deputy leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha. Kharge will be put in charge of next year’s assembly polls in his home state of Karnataka. All eyes are on 10 Janpath as Sonia will take the final call.
School kids pay
The recent killing and mutilation of two Indian soldiers by Pakistani forces took its toll of a visit by a group of Pakistani school students and teachers who had come to Delhi as part of a friendship programme organised by the NGO, Routes2Roots. The students had barely stepped foot on Indian soil when the NGO was advised by the ministry of external affairs to send them back because of security concerns in the current hostile environment.
The kids were almost in tears when the news was broken to them. They kept pleading with their teachers and Indian hosts to be allowed to stay back and finish their visit. What have we done? Have we done something wrong? This is what they kept asking.
The circumstances were explained to them as gently as possible but kids being kids, they kept pleading to stay back even at the airport while waiting for the flight home. I hope our flight gets cancelled, one kid is believed to have said.
The group was in India on a five-day visit. They managed to do some sightseeing in Amritsar and Delhi on the first two days before their trip was cut short. After crossing the Wagah border, they visited the Golden Temple. In Delhi the next day, they saw the sights, had lunch at Haldiram and visited the shops on Janpath.
What they missed out on, much to their disappointment, was seeing the Taj Mahal. They were to visit Agra on their third day here. Instead, they found themselves at the airport waiting for a flight back home to Pakistan. The teachers were particularly upset because they hadn’t had time to shop!
They also missed out meeting their pen friends in Delhi with whom they had been communicating for the past one year. They had come with little gifts and prepared skits and songs to perform for them. The pen friends were students in a Delhi school which conducted the friendship programme with Routes2Roots.
It is indeed sad that school children were hit by the deteriorating state of relations between India and Pakistan.
Many believe that the truce between poet-politician AAP leader Kumar Vishwas and his party is temporary. Surely being put in charge of Rajasthan, where AAP doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance of winning in next year’s assembly election, is not enough temptation for Vishwas to stay back in the party he founded.
It seems both sides had their reasons for effecting a truce at this point. Kumar’s future plans are still in a state of flux. The political scenario in Delhi is fluid. The fate of the Kejriwal government is uncertain. The BJP would prefer to let the government fall under the weight of internal contradictions rather than dismiss it. Dismissal would turn Kejriwal into a hero.
On his part, Kejriwal could not afford to let go of a high profile person like Vishwas at a time when he is down and out. That is why he went personally to Vishwas’s house and made peace.
But sources close to AAP say powerful sections in the party’s political affairs committee remain suspicious about Vishwas’s loyalties. Questions are being asked whether the dismissed water resources minister Kapil Mishra, known to be close to Vishwas, was set up to throw corruption charges at Kejriwal.
For the moment, the party has closed ranks behind Kejriwal. Even Vishwas has rubbished Mishra’s corruption allegations. But internal tensions are only mounting.
J & K game plan
BJP president Amit Shah gave a glimpse of his party’s game plan in Jammu and Kashmir during his recent visit to Jammu. In his address to BJP MLAs and MLCs, he unveiled a surprising action plan. He told them to concentrate on winning the 37 assembly seats in Jammu and the 4 seats in Ladakh. If the BJP wins all 41, he said, it can form a government on its own in J&K even without winning a single seat in the Valley.
Is this the first signal of a trifurcation plan? It would seem that the BJP is moving to freeze politics in the Valley and gain control of the rest of the state. This would serve to marginalize both the regional players, PDP and NC, and redraw the map of J&K.