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Priyanka’s plunge, Scindia’s gambit

The writer is a Delhi-based journalist.
Published : Jan 27, 2019, 2:22 am IST
Updated : Jan 27, 2019, 2:22 am IST

Kishor’s reaction to Ms Vadra’s appointment has given rise to speculation that the Janata Dal(U) has not given up on the Congress.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra
 Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s appointment as Congress general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh has once again revived talk of a possible rapprochement between the Congress and the Janata Dal (U). It is an acknowledged fact that Prashant Kishor, former poll strategist and now Janata Dal (U) vice-president, had met Congress leaders several months ago on behalf of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar with an offer of a tie-up. The Congress, however, did not respond too enthusiastically as it did not want to take any decision without the concurrence of its ally, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), which was not forthcoming. Mr Kishor is known to have a good equation with Ms Vadra as he had worked closely with her during the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in his capacity as a poll strategist for the Congress. In fact, Mr Kishor had then suggested that Ms Vadra should enter politics as he believed her presence would make a huge impact in the Uttar Pradesh polls but it was not to be. Mr Kishor’s reaction to Ms Vadra’s appointment has given rise to speculation that the Janata Dal(U) has not given up on the Congress. “One of the most awaited entries in Indian politics is finally here. While people may debate the timing, exact role, and position, to me, the real news is that she finally decided to take the plunge! Congratulations and best wishes to Priyanka Gandhi,” he tweeted.
Reports about Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia’s meeting with the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister at his residence in Bhopal last week set Delhi’s political grapevine buzzing. Though both leaders clarified that it was a mere courtesy call, it has not stopped people from speculating about the real reason for this meeting. It is being said that Mr Chouhan offered Mr Scindia the chief minister’s post if he switched sides to the Bharatiya Janata Party since it is certain that the Kamal Nath-led government will not last long given the Congress Party’s thin majority in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly. Mr Chouhan apparently has his own reasons for making this offer. He believes that if the BJP does topple the Congress government, he will not make it as chief minister and that the post will instead go to his arch-rival, Kailash Vijayvargiya. Others maintain that Mr Scindia reached out to Mr Chouhan to send out a message to his bête noire, Digvijaya Singh, that like him, he also has the ability to enjoy a rapport with his political opponents. Some said Mr Scindia made this move to improve his acceptability in the state with an eye on the future. While these stories are swirling around, Mr Scindia will have his hands full now that he has been given charge of western Uttar Pradesh ahead of a crucial Lok Sabha election.

Ever since he was expelled from the Samajwadi Party by its new leader Akhilesh Yadav two years ago, Amar Singh has been making strenuous efforts to find a new home as he is clearly lost without being attached to a political party. Described variously as kingmaker and deal maker, the former Samajwadi Party leader has zeroed in on the Bharatiya Janata Party as his next choice. But the BJP has been cool to his overtures though it is all too willing to use Mr Singh’s skills when required. As a result, Mr Singh is said to have tried his luck with media baron and fellow Rajya Sabha member Subhash Chandra in the belief that he is close to PM Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. Besides, Mr Singh has also been making the right noises. He once said that his life was dedicated to Mr Modi and later, when asked who would be the next PM, Mr Singh unhesitatingly said it would be Mr Modi. Mr Singh got his hopes up about his possible induction into the BJP when the PM especially referred to him at a public event in Lucknow last year. Mr Singh, who was seated in the audience, obviously felt emboldened as he lost no time in calling on Uttar Pradesh chief Yogi Adityanath after the programme.

News about their romance and impending marriage had hit the headlines nearly three years ago. The media had then been abuzz with news that former Chief Election Commissioner of India S.Y. Quraishi and Nepal’s current Election Commissioner Ila Sharma would soon be tying the nuptial knot. Their romance is said to have blossomed when they met in 2015 at a conference in Mexico on “money in politics”. When these reports first came out, Mr Quraishi had taken to Twitter to describe them as speculative though he did say that “Ila and I are indeed very good friends.” Many reports and denials later, the two finally got married recently. This time there was no publicity as the couple made sure it was a quiet affair with no band, baja or baraat.

Tags: priyanka gandhi vadra, nitish kumar