Banerjee ka gussa
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is keen to pacify Mamata Banerjee, fearing the Trinamool Congress is nibbling into the Congress vote share outside West Bengal. But Banerjee is in no mood to respond. She is still fuming over Rahul Gandhi’s behaviour after the TMC victory in Bengal. Rahul did not telephone to congratulate Banerjee and took two days to put out a tweet. Nevertheless, when Sonia Gandhi requested Banerjee to come to Delhi to talk about a possible grand alliance, the Bengal Chief Minister agreed to fly down. What Banerjee did not bargain for was that Rahul would casually walk into the room during the meeting, though she had not been informed of it. Rahul did not stay for long, and the next day, Congress Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury issued a statement attacking the TMC for unleashing violence in Bengal. Banerjee believes both of Rahul’s protégés in the state, Chowdhury and Abdul Mannan, target the TMC thinking the Congress would be better off aligning with the Left in Bengal. Even in UP, Banerjee has given the Congress something to think about. The TMC’s latest recruits include Kamalapati Tripathi’s grandson Rajesh Pati and his great grandson Lalitesh Pati.
Order of Ordinance
On the basis of an ordinance, the Ministry of Personnel last week put out a somewhat confusing notification amending rules of the Central Government of India in public interest. In sum, it put a cap of two-year extensions for the Secretaries of Defence and Home, Director, Intelligence Bureau, and Secretary, RAW. However tenures for directors of investigative bodies, such as the CBI and Enforcement Directorate, it said, can be extended up to five years. Clearly those who frame intelligence and policy require less continuity than those in charge of investigation, and can turn the screws on those whom the government desires.
Extensions are always available for favoured officers in the Modi government. Some examples: Director, Enforcement Directorate, S K Mishra was recently granted another term, before his three-year tenure ends this month. Director, Intelligence Bureau, Arvind Kumar; Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla; and RAW Secretary Samant Goel have all got extensions. RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das is on a second three-year tenure. Another favourite, P C Mody, has got three extensions as Chairperson of the Central Board of Direct Taxes. He was recently appointed Secretary General of the Rajya Sabha and the incumbent, Dr P P K Ramacharyulu, who had less than three months in office, was made adviser to the Rajya Sabha Chairperson. Ajit Kumar, Chairperson of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, who is to retire this month, expects an extension. Pankaj Kumar Mishra, head of the Financial Investigation Unit for five years, will continue in the post for another two years as his position has been upgraded to Additional Secretary rank. Ajay Tyagi, Chairperson of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), was granted an 18-month extension after completing his term in August last year.
Yes, no, maybe
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was furious when presented three pre-poll Uttar Pradesh surveys, diametrically different from one another. Modi felt the BJP was blowing up money on meaningless surveys. However, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath expressed supreme confidence that the party was winning. Usually in UP the most vocal in expressing voting preferences are Brahmins, who are far more influential in impacting voter trends than their actual numbers. But, in a departure, the Brahmins, seen as angry over the CM “promoting” his own Thakur community, are relatively silent. The anti-BJP voters, whether farmers, minorities or Yadavs, appear the most outspoken. The BJP’s hope is that eventually it will be the silent voters who will decide the outcome. Adityanath has granted several benefits to the people, from grains to cooking oil, and a one-time Rs 1,000 dole for those in the BPL category since May this year. The special perks were to help out after the havoc of the Coronavirus pandemic and will continue till Holi next year.
At a Haryana Congress post-mortem meeting, Bhupinder Hooda and Kuldeep Bishnoi nearly came to blows over the humiliating results of the recent bypolls in Ellenabad constituency. Abhay Chautala of the INLD retained his seat, while the Congress candidate lost his deposit. Bishnoi felt that the Congress misjudged in assuming it could ride to victory by backing the farmers’ movement. In Haryana, the Congress is basically a non-Jat party, he pointed out. Incidentally, the BJP lost the by-election narrowly and polled more votes than in the 2019 Assembly elections, thanks to the overwhelming support of urban voters.