Congress leader Ajit Jogi is an astute politician who leaves no opportunity to grab headlines. Also, he had mastered the art of silencing his critics both within and outside the Congress.
Things turned bad for Mr Jogi when he, along with his MLA son Amit, was taken to task by state Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) for allegedly fixing a byelection in 2014 to help a ruling Bharatiya Janata Party candidate win an Assembly seat.
Three months after the state PCC recommended his expulsion from the party, the bureaucrat-turned-politician quietly visited the party headquarters in Delhi on March 24 to celebrate Holi with central party leaders, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul Gandhi.
A few hours later, the state Congress was flooded with photographs of Mr Jogi celebrating Holi with Mrs Gandhi.
Similarly, on April 8, Mr Jogi took part in a protest along with partymen in Raipur to demand action against the officials responsible for misrepresentation of the 18th century dalit saint Guru Ghasidas as a “harijan” in a government book. His camp was present in full strength to support him. Needless to mention, his rivals got the message.
An expensive sacrifice While campaigning in the November-December 2014 Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections, Sajjad Gani Lone would fervently deny critics’ arraign that he quit separatist camp only because he was dreaming to become chief minister of restive Jammu and Kashmir.
Being a “prized” pre-poll ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party, he was inducted as a minister into Mufti Muhammad Sayeed-led PDP-BJP government. A word, however, spread that he was not happy with the portfolios (science and technology, and animal husbandry departments) assigned to him. He didn’t attend office for days and returned to Srinagar from winter capital Jammu. Mr Lone, however, denied his disillusionment and settled down to work soon.
Last week, J&K’s twin capitals were again agog with rumours that Mr Lone has quit the new PDP-BJP dispensation over being assigned a “low key” department to head as a minister once again.
When chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on April 4 allocated portfolios, Mr Lone was shifted to social welfare department, which was not to his liking. He did not attend office and flew to Delhi amid reports that he has sent his resignation letter to Ms Mufti.
Sections of the media reported he was called to Delhi by the BJP leadership to resolve the issue. But his aides back in J&K said that he was in the Union capital to consult an ophthalmologist to get his left eye treated. Or ask BJP bosses not to turn blind eye on the “sacrifice” he made by allying with the saffron party after deserting fellow separatists
Games India-Pak play India and Pakistan played a cat and mouse game recently over the “comprehensive bilateral dialogue” between the two countries and the issue of reciprocity following the visit of a Pakistani joint investigation team (JIT) to India to probe the Pathankot terror attack.
No sooner had the ministry of external affairs (MEA) finished its weekly news briefing in New Delhi, it got wind of the fact — from reporters — that Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit would be interacting with the Indian and foreign media a little later in the capital. The MEA kept a close watch on the developments and no sooner had Mr Basit declared that he felt the comprehensive bilateral dialogue had been suspended for the time being — probably since the postponed foreign secretary-level talks are yet to take place — that the MEA got cracking, desperate to counter his claim.
The MEA fished out the Pakistan foreign ministry’s own comments that evening in Islamabad, to hint that Mr Basit and the civilian government in Islamabad were not on the same page.
Mr Basit is viewed by many as a nominee of the Pakistan Army and he may well be conveying what some believe is a realistic assessment, but without the blessings of the Modi and Sharif sarkars.
A floral welcome Union home minister Rajnath Singh’s three-day visit to his constituency, Lucknow, after Holi, was a flower-filled affair. The minister spent the first day of his visit offering condolences to those party leaders who had recently lost their relatives. He then embarked on a string of Holi Milan functions across the state capital and his supporters opted for a “phoolon ki Holi” for the leader.
In each of the functions, tonnes of flower petals were brought in to play Holi with Mr Singh and laddoos and selfies were the order of the day.
Mr Singh’s programme in his constituency was so power-packed that he could not even spare a minute to meet the common people who stood outside his residence with their grievances and applications. Some old-timers in the party were also disappointed because they could not manage to get in a word with him. Mr Singh, even as Uttar Pradesh chief minister, had always been accessible to all and the chief minister’s residence was known for its open house quality.
His well-wishers feel that this growing distance between the leader and the voters is not a healthy sign and want the minister to make his visits to Lucknow more frequent and “less programmed”.
A novice neta A first-time Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Delhi almost landed himself in a soup last week. In his efforts to score some brownie points over his opponents, the young parliamentarian issued a press release on a Parliamentary Standing Committee.
Most politicians are in the habit of issuing press statements without giving a second thought to any issue. But since this was a Parliamentary Standing Committee, its functioning is considered secret and privileged information.
It seems that better sense prevailed among journalists and editors who decided against publishing the press release and saving themselves as well as the young MP from the trouble of facing a privilege committee proceedings.
Politicians, it seems, need to learn their craft from experience and years of practice.
No more reshuffles please The Union home ministry, after changing two home secretaries and reshuffling joint secretaries twice, is now slated for another reshuffle at the joint secretary-level since the National Democratic Alliance government came to power.
With at least three joint secretaries completing their tenure and one additional secretary post falling vacant within two months, it is now being speculated whether the ministry will again don a new look as far as its sensitive divisions are concerned. The buzz in the corridors is that the ministry needs to display some urgency in completing its pending works and for this the joint secretary needs time to settle down.
AAP way or highway The Aam Aadmi Party government seems to believe in the “my way or the highway” approach while getting things done through its bureaucrats.
In a recent meeting called by the Delhi chief secretary of all the top bureaucrats of the National Capital Territory of the Delhi government, it was made quite clear to them that if salaries of contractual workers are not disbursed on time then there would be a 10 per cent deduction from their (officials’) basic pay. Wonder what choice the babus have than to comply with the order.