With the Winter Session of Parliament set to commence early next month, speculation about the appointment of Rajya Sabha’s next Leader of Opposition has picked up speed. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge resigned from this post when he filed his nomination for the party’s presidency. Senior party leaders P. Chidambaram and Digvijaya Singh are being mentioned in Congress circles as top contenders for the post. But Opposition leaders are convinced that Mr Kharge will be retained. In fact, they are rooting for Mr Kharge and give several reasons for the Congress to continue with him. The senior Congress leader, an Opposition leader pointed out, is a good choice as he has established a healthy working relationship with other Opposition parties for floor coordination in the Upper House. Besides, he has the necessary gravitas to negotiate with the ruling party. Congress interests, Opposition leaders said, would be well-served if Mr Kharge continues as Leader of Opposition because he also has the added advantage of being well-versed in Hindi and, more importantly, hails from Karnataka which is headed for Assembly polls early next year. As everyone awaits word on the appointment, other Opposition leaders are drawing comfort from the fact that Sonia Gandhi has not yet accepted Mr Kharge’s resignation. However, Mr Kharge’s continuation may become tricky after the Congress adopted the Udaipur declaration which underlined the principle of “one person, one post”.
An unverified Twitter account of Miraya Vadra, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s daughter, has recently caught everyone’s attention. The posts, written in Hindi, on the micro-blogging site express admiration for Priyanka and uncle Rahul Gandhi with the account holder declaring that her “mamu” will be India’s Prime Minister in 2024. “Naye Bharat ka surya uday ho chuka hai. Agle Pradhan mantri 2024” reads one tweet along with a Rahul Gandhi’s photograph. In another tweet, a photograph of Rahul Gandhi with a mashaal, says, “Flower nahin, ‘Fire’ hain mere mamu.” Besides Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka also figures in these tweets. In one, Priyanka is described as “maa Durga” and in another, she has posted a photograph of Indira Gandhi along with her mother’s, saying, “Indira hi hai meri maa.”
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan landed himself in an embarrassing situation recently when he went to an Indore school for an interaction with its students. At the end of the programme, Mr Chouhan asked all those in the audience who aspire to become chief ministers to raise their hands. Naturally, all the students in the hall put up their hands. But much to their amusement, Mr Chouhan’s Cabinet colleague Tulsi Silawat who was seated on the dais, also raised his hand. Mr Silawat is a known camp follower of Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and was among the Congress legislators who crossed over to the Bharatiya Janata Party two years ago. Mr Silawat’s response at the school function soon became a talking point with state leaders wondering if it was meant to signal his interest in becoming a chief minister or was he actually acting as Mr Scindia’s proxy. It is no secret that it is Mr Silawat’s desire that Mr Scindia take over as Madhya Pradesh chief minister. A few months ago, he had described Mr Scindia as chief minister while addressing a meeting in his home state. Needless to say, Mr Silawat’s “slip of the tongue” did not go unnoticed.
Students of the Sonepat-based O.P. Jindal Global University were in for a huge disappointment last week when the ever-popular Congress MP Shashi Tharoor backed out of a pre-scheduled programme a few days before the event. There was considerable excitement among the students when they first learnt that Mr Tharoor would be delivering the valedictory address at the Dr L.M. Singhvi Global Conference. The programme was originally to be held on the university campus but the venue was subsequently changed to Mr Tharoor’s Delhi residence. The students were crestfallen because this meant a cap on numbers since Mr Tharoor’s place would not accommodate them all. But even before the university could draw lots to decide who could attend the function, it was called off. Mr Tharoor instead headed to Mumbai for a litfest where he partnered former television anchor Faye D’Souza in a debate on the subject, ”Social Media Strengthens Democracy”. They spoke for the motion while Congress dissident Sanjay Jha spoke against it.
That Anil Baluni is a favourite of the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership is obvious from the fact that he has been in charge of its all-important media department for the past five years now. But it is no secret that Mr Baluni nurses chief ministerial ambitions and has been hoping that his proximity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah would work in his favour. But BJP leaders in his home state Uttarakhand are wary of him as they believe Mr Baluni is being thrust upon them by the Delhi durbar. Consequently, they keep a safe distance from him when he visits the hill state. In response, Mr Baluni sent out a quiet message to his detractors recently by ensuring the presence of several senior BJP leaders, including Rajnath Singh, and national security advisor Ajit Doval at a function at his residence.