Rajnath seems making best use of his proximity to Amit Shah to get loyalists rewarded.
The new Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act 2019, initiated by Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari, has been put on hold in several states but in the national capital Delhi, it is directly affecting sales and attendance at the Press Club of India. The new law stipulates a hefty fine for drunk driving. Increased penalties have been implemented in states such as Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar whereas others such as Gujarat and Kerala have slashed the penalties imposed on erring drivers. Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and several other states have dragged their feet over the new law’s implementation.
“Workaholic” scribes at the Raisina Road-Dr Rajendra Prasad Road watering hole face a piquant situation when they leave for home. As many journalists live in east Delhi or Noida, and agile breathalysing cops at the Mandi House roundabout have been imposing hefty challans on the “tipsy drivers”. As a result, many law-abiding scribes have started skipping going home via the Press Club and sales figures at the club bear testimony to a steep fall. For once, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman are spared and Mr Gadkari is the target of media criticism.
Rajnath’s stock rising
Suddenly the political stock of defence minister Rajnath Singh is rising. First, close aide Sudhanshu Trivedi made it to the Rajya Sabha. Now, another associate Arun Singh took oath as a member of the Upper House due to a vacancy caused by Samajwadi Party member Tazeen Fatma (wife of Azam Khan) who is now the MLA from Rampur.
In political circles, Rajnath’s rise is seen as a consequence of Arun Jaitley’s absence. Rajnath seems making best use of his proximity to Amit Shah to get loyalists rewarded.
Rahul Gandhi dobara? Senior Congress leaders are getting jittery with deliberations inside the Congress party to crown Rahul Gandhi as AICC chief once more. Rahul has also been asked to campaign in the Jharkhand Assembly poll even though state party leaders wanted Sonia or Priyanka Gandhi to address public meetings in the poll-bound state. Rahul was the 87th AICC chief from December 2017 to July 2019. 24 Akbar Road insiders say Sonia has set February 2020 as her deadline to relinquish the post of interim party chief.
She is the prettiest face of the 17th Lok Sabha but the Trinamul Congress leadership is unsure if they would be able to retain actress-politician Nusrat Jahan. Trinamul sources said that the top leadership is apprehensive that Ms Jahan may jump ship any time. Ms Jahan attended a joint parliamentary session to mark Constitution Day while her party and the entire Opposition was protesting outside in front of the Ambedkar statue in Parliament gardens. Later when she greeted party floor leader Sudip Bandhopadhyay,
he angrily refused to acknowledge her greeting (which must have been tough for him to do). Ms Jahan has said she didn’t see the message on the party’s WhatsApp group. But the Trinamul leadership has put her on a watch list as Nusrat Jahan has stopped criticising the BJP. Her interfaith marriage, knack for performing puja and popularity in Bengal would make her a prize catch for the BJP.
Another TMC star Mahua Moitra is giving the party anxious moments. While Ms Moitra is not inclined towards the BJP, she apparently doesn’t answer calls or texts from party leaders and gets in touch only when she needs to. Her frequent presence at social dos, literary meets and TV news interviews seems to be taking a toll of her time.
Nirmala’s banana recipe
Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman is drawing flak for saying that her family did not eat onions in the context of spiralling prices. Old-timers recall many other politicians making a “Let them eat cake” remark which is attributed to Marie-Antoinette, the Queen of France during the French Revolution. As the story goes, it was the Queen’s response upon being told that her starving peasant subjects had no bread.
Prafulla Chandra Sen, Congress CM of West Bengal in 1962-67, famously told Bengalis complaining about the rising price of fish, “Why don’t you eat kaccha kela instead?”
The writer is a keen observer of the goings-on in backrooms of power