Anita Katyal | Convalescing Sonia has Danish muse; Nupur saga opens prospects for Naqvi

The Asian Age.  | Anita Katyal

Opinion, Columnists

The decision to deny a Rajya Sabha seat to Naqvi created quite a stir since he is the only Muslim minister in the Modi government

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (PTI)

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has been house-bound for over a week after she tested positive for Covid. With plenty of time on her hands and unable to step out, the Congress chief used this period during her recuperation to watch the well-known and popular Danish series Borgen. The television drama must have struck a chord with Sonia Gandhi as it follows the journey of a woman politician whose party wins a surprise victory, enabling her to stake claim to the Prime Minister’s post. The gripping series shows the backroom negotiations the female protagonist undertakes with potential allies, how she manages the different political parties in the government and the push for key policies. But what perhaps should inspire Sonia Gandhi, whose party is currently going through a particularly lean patch, is how the fictional Danish Prime Minister takes on powerful men and manages to bounce back despite a string of setbacks. Clearly, the series holds out hope for a down-and-out Sonia Gandhi that all is not lost yet and that a better tomorrow is not beyond reach.

The decision to deny a Rajya Sabha seat to Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi created quite a stir since he is the only Muslim minister in the Narendra Modi government. Though it initially appeared that Mr Naqvi’s political future was in a freefall, the outrage triggered in the Arab world over Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s remarks about the Prophet could help rehabilitate Mr Naqvi.

This episode has opened up prospects of a comeback for Nr Naqvi as the Modi government is under pressure to demonstrate that it does not discriminate against minorities and is ready to accommodate them in key positions.

Consequently, there is a buzz that Mr Naqvi could be the BJP’s choice for the vice-president’s post in next month’s election. Or else he could be appointed governor, failing which Mr Naqvi could find himself back in the Rajya Sabha as a nominated member. But the manner in which his name is being bandied around, he could even end up losing, given Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s penchant for springing surprises.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, a leading member of the group of 23 Congress leaders (G-23), pressing for an organisational overhaul of the party, appears to have been put on notice by the leadership. Mr Azad’s two closest aides were recently issued show cause notices on some flimsy grounds after they did not turn up for the state-level Chintan Shivir held recently in Jammu. This move has led to confusion and uncertainty among Mr Azad’s supporters in Jammu and Kashmir.

They had been pressing Mr Azad to leave the Congress and float his own political outfit but the senior leader had held off in the hope that party president Sonia Gandhi would renominate him to the Rajya Sabha. Now that he has failed to make the cut, Mr Azad has to weigh his options. The formation of a regional political party is very much on the table but Mr Azad is hesitant to take the plunge as word is out in his home state that he is being backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has the potential of compromising his Muslim support base. Mr Azad obviously has a tough choice to make.

Is Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati making overtures to Azam Khan, the high-profile and controversial Samajwadi Party legislator? And is Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav’s estranged uncle Shivpal Yadav mediating between the two sides? This is currently the talk in Uttar Pradesh’s political circles. It is well known that Azam Khan has serious differences with Akhilesh Yadav leading to constant chatter that the all-powerful politician from Rampur is exploring other options. At the same time, Mayawati is looking afresh at reaching out to the Muslims instead of focusing all her attention on wooing Brahmins. Shivpal Yadav has also been sulking since he was virtually ignored by his nephew after the assembly polls. Finding themselves on the same side, Azam Khan and Shivpal Yadav are said to be working in tandem to derail the Samajwadi Party chief. It is precisely for this reason that Akhilesh Yadav took care to call on Azam Khan in Delhi recently and declared Mr Khan’s close aide Asim Raja as the party’s candidate for the coming Lok Sabha by-election from Rampur.

There appears to be no end to the tussle between Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his home minister Narottam Mishra who enjoys the patronage of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Central leadership. This tension surfaces periodically. For instance, when BJP president J.P. Nadda attended a function on his recent visit to Bhopal, Mr Mishra found there was no chair for him when he climbed on to the stage. Mr Mishra sat with the audience but was persuaded to join the others on stage after someone vacated a seat for him. Mr Chouhan is fighting with his back to the wall as Mr Mishra uses his proximity to home minister Amit Shah to set the agenda in the state. Little wonder then that Mr Nadda made an unscheduled halt at Mr Mishra’s residence on this trip.