By Rahil Nora Chopra
After former Union minister Jitin Prasada, once close to Rahul Gandhi, crossed over to the BJP, now Congress may be all set to stage a virtual coup in the family of Indira Gandhi’s estranged daughter-in-law Maneka Gandhi by wooing her restive son BJP MP Varun Gandhi to cross over to the other side. Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi are said to be already in touch with Varun Gandhi and feel that his switching sides might help in bringing round a number of former Congressmen to come back to the party. Varun has been unhappy with the BJP leadership for not giving him due importance in Uttar Pradesh, where he even nursed the ambition of being projected as a prospective chief ministerial candidate. Although Varun Gandhi has been approached by several people to join the Congress ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in 2022, however, Varun has declined all offers.
YOGI-MODI CLASH OVER KEY POSTS IN UP CABINET AHEAD OF 2022 POLLS
Tempers have run high between the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, essentially over the induction of a Modi nominee into the Adityanath cabinet. According to BJP sources, the chief minister is understood to have flatly refused to comply with the prime minister’s wishes to accommodate former Gujarat-cadre IAS officer Arvind Kumar Sharma as the deputy chief minister. Speculation is rife that Sharma would replace one of the two existing deputy chief ministers – Dinesh Sharma or Keshav Prasad Maurya. It is believed that Maurya could be moved to the post of president of the state party organisation, a charge he had held before the 2017 state elections too. The buzz is that UP cabinet expansion might take place in June and it can be seen from the close quarter whether Arvind Sharma may become deputy chief minister or as MOS in the Cabinet or he may not be included in the cabinet.
RUMBLINGS OF CHANGE IN KERALA CONGRESS AFTER POLL DEFEAT
Congress, which suffered a crushing defeat in the assembly election in Kerala, is having a tough time with many leaders demanding a generational change in leadership within the organisation. The Congress on Tuesday appointed senior leader and Member of Parliament, K Sudhakarn as the new president of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) and named three working presidents to assist him. Lok Sabha MP Kodikkunnil Suresh, one of the contenders for the state chief’s post, will continue as working president. P T Thomas and T Siddique will be the other working presidents. But no action has been taken against AICC general secretary organisation K C Venugopal, who was also responsible for the defeat in the assembly election in the state, has gained momentum in the party. State party leaders alleged that Venugopal accommodated nearly a dozen of his loyalists in the candidate list which has opened a Pandora’s box in the Congress and most of them have lost the election. Congress sources in the dissenting camp insist that Venugopal should step down.
METROMAN TO REPLACE PRAFUL KHODA IN LAKSHADWEEP?
E Sreedharan, popularly known as Metroman, had joined the BJP and recently lost the assembly election in Kerala. While in Lakshadeep where Narendra Modi’s favourite minder, Praful Khoda Patel rolled out several anti-people reforms, put Sreedharan back in the news. The BJP’s Lakshadeep unit asked the Centre to replace Praful Khoda Patel with Sreedharan as the administrator of the Union Territory. Now the BJP high command will take the final decision on this matter soon. Meanwhile, the BJP on Monday appointed E Sreedharan to investigate the saffron party’s election fund utilization and the alleged hawala controversy that has rocked the Kerala BJP. BJP’s central leadership along with ‘Metroman’ E Sreedharan will probe the alleged misuse of funds in the wake of the Kodakara money laundering controversy in the state. Former DGP Jacob Thomas, former IAS Official CV Ananda Bose are also part of the team.
SONIA ENLISTS POET PRATAPGARHI AS CONGRESS’ MINORITY CELL HEAD
Congress president Sonia Gandhi has appointed poet Imran Pratapgarhi as chairman of the party’s minority department. He has replaced Nadeem Javed, another young leader from Uttar Pradesh, whose performance as minority department chief had not been satisfactory. Pratapgarhi, who has gained popularity among Muslim youths because of his strident anti-Narendra Modi stand at mushairas (poetry sessions), joined the Congress in 2019. While Imran lost the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Moradabad, getting just 5% of the votes, he is a prominent presence on social media with his aggressive poetry. While his YouTube channel has 1.55 million subscribers, his Facebook page has 19 lakh followers, and the Congress used him as a star campaigner in the Bihar Assembly elections. Although believed to be in the good books of Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, There had been resentment over Imran appointment, with the dominant view that senior leader should given a full charge of the department. The Congress hopes Imran, with his fan base and political vocabulary to express his views, can help it attract the youth minority vote, as the party seeks to claw its back into reckoning in Uttar Pradesh, which goes to polls next year. (IPA)