By Rahil Nora Chopra
Will the Congress tie up with Kamal Haasan’s fledgling party? We don’t know yet. But the Gandhi family, at least its younger members, did roll out the red carpet for the superstar. Apparently even as Rahul Gandhi was holding an intense discussion with Kamal on Tamil Nadu politics, sister Priyanka Gandhi joined in full measure. Indications are that Priyanka is particularly receptive to the idea of a fresh look at Tamil Nadu politics. Is a new alignment minus DMK being explored by the Congress? Naturally the young siblings wouldn’t want to plunge into such a decision on their own without Sonia Gandhi weighing in. Hence a meeting between Kamal and Sonia has been set at Rahul-Priyanka’s behest. The idea is to explore if the Congress with the two Left parties and Kamal can be a viable option. The GOP, it seems, wants to contest 20 seats, which the DMK is unlikely to part with and the former cannot win any without an alliance. Since this is going to be the first TN poll post Jayalalithaa and without an active Karunanidhi, any new equation may emerge.
MAMATA’S CANCELLED CHINA TRIP AROUSES CURIOSITY
The cancellation of Mamata Banerjee’s China visit, especially after all the build up about Beijing responding to the fast changing political situation and wooing Mamata as the alternative to Modi, has aroused curiosity. The MEA and diplomatic circles make light of all that and say it’s only a scheduling problem. Though the Chinese envoy here tried his best, no high profile meetings could be lined up for the Bengal CM. In this midst of the diplomatic ping-pong, a vital clue was missed: the sudden appearance of Rakesh Asthana, the CBI Special Director in Kolkata on Thursday night. Continuous meetings ensued on Friday to expedite the Narada-Sarada investigation. There are about 14 FIRs against senior TMC leaders and ministers pending. Abhay Singh, the CBI official overseeing the probe was also summarily shunted to Ranchi, for slow progress. It seems Asthana will himself monitor the probe on a daily basis. Did Didi apprehend some unpleasant development in her absence? What’s certain is that she’s returning the CBI heat with CID fire by way of a stepped up probe into the cases against BJP leader Rupa Ganguly and others in an alleged child trafficking.
NITISH IN A REAL PREDICAMENT
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is the most worried politician at this time. Seeing 2019 Lok Sabha election, his party is in trouble as neither he can leave the BJP at this moment nor his party is able to win the Lok Sabha election alone. He wants that his party should get more representation in the coming Lok Sabha election. He never discussed these issues with state BJP leaders and is planning to discuss with BJP central leadership when party chief Amit Shah visits Bihar in coming days. BJP knows that at present he can’t go with the opposition nor fight alone. Political observers say ultimately his party’s fate will depend upon BJP.
FOCUS SHIFTS TO UTTAR PRADESH IAS POSTINGS
After the long political drama in Uttar Pradesh, attention is now turning to the transfer and posting of officers. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is said to depend more on his officers than his ministers. Chief secretary Rajiv Kumar, Yogi’s most trusted officer, is going to retire on 30 June 2018. There was speculation that Rajiv Kumar will get the extension but persons close to the senior official say he is not interested and requested the chief minister to make him a UPSC member, which means he will continue in service for five years. There is said to be keen competition among three senior IAS officers for the chief secretary post, including Durga Shanker Mishra, Anup Shanker Pandey and Sanjay Aggarawal. Mishra is on deputation at the Centre while Aggarwal and Pandey are working as additional chief secretaries in Uttar Pradesh. The state IAS lobby has accused CM’s principal secretary SP Goyal of taking bribes for allocating land for a petrol pump, but investigations revealed no wrong doing. Goyal still remains in his post and the chief minister is trying to post honest officers at district headquarters, which is upsetting political leaders as they lose the opportunity to make money.
RAHUL MAKES A BIRTHDAY BREAK
Congress workers celebrated Rahul Gandhi’s birthday in Delhi on June 19 after many years, as normally he would celebrate his birthdays abroad. Congress persons lined up at 10 Janpath, the residence of Sonia Gandhi, to wish Rahul on his birthday. Prominent among them included Ahmed Patel, Ashok Gehlot, Randeep Surjewala, Moti Lal Vohra, Mohsina Kidwai and other senior leaders. (IPA)