Off the record

Off the record

Of yatras and yatris
It’s now official that LK Advani’s much-hyped rath yatra would eventually begin from Sitabdiara in Saran district in Bihar. For those who have never heard about this non-descript village in North Bihar, Sitabdiara is the birth place of late Jaya Prakash Narayan (fondly known as JP). Bihar strongman Nitish Kumar has finally given his consent to be present there on October 11, the birth anniversary of JP, when the rath yatra will be flagged off.

Bihar BJP leaders in private admit that Advani’s yatra was originally scheduled to commence from Porbandar or Karamsad in Gujarat but since the BJP patriarch was miffed with Modi’s growing stature and ambition, the former deputy prime minister shifted his launch pad to the State, whose chief minister could still tilt the balance in his favour (for prime-ministership) after 2014 Lok Sabha polls. However, very few people are aware that Nitish himself will embark on Sewa yatra from the first week of November from Champaran, the place from where Mahatma Gandhi launched his first satyagraha against the British.

Officially, it is said that Nitish wants to get a feedback about the proper implementation of Right to Service Act that fixes a time bar for providing services and is aimed at checking corruption. But those who know Nitish very well, argue that he is a lambi race ka ghoda and is eyeing the Delhi throne, should there be any discord between Advani and Modi over the top post.

Abhay Kumar, Patna

Pawar’s power play

Six months after he was shifted from the food ministry, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar is now pushing for something what he never tried to do during his six-year term in his previous ministry. He is pressing for a sugar export policy that will do away with the discretion of food minister over decisions relating to its export.

Pawar wants the government to announce its policy for sugar export by the middle of next month. Even as the empowered group of ministers (EGOM) on food is yet to take a decision on allowing sugar exports under the open general license (OGL), the agriculture minister has pressed the panic button saying that any delay in sugar exports would lead to increase in cane arrears and reduction in cane area in the coming years.

 Interestingly, Pawar had announced last December that sugar exports will be allowed but food minister K V Thomas did not show much enthusiasm in honouring his announcement and took his own time in approving the decision to export.

Prakash kumar, New Delhi

A silent war 

People wonder what kind of political rivalry is there between Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. They do not have a common electoral turf, nor do they have any intra-party competition. Moreover, Narendra Modi never targets him. When NDA leaders were competing to show their solidarity with Modi during his Sadbhavana fast, Nitish was not even ready to talk about it.

Political pundits come out with some simplistic inferences like overriding the muslim factor in electoral battle in Bihar. However, these inferences do not help us when we see him flagging off Advani’s  Yatra because the gesture will no way help him gain muslim support.

Nitish’s supporters are obviously not happy to see him risk his secular credential as this action may demonstrate that his alliance with BJP is not merely a local political compulsion.  They think that people may be driven to such conclusions that Nitish might be thinking to further ride ladders of power with BJP’s support.   Some JDU insiders have already started guessing,  they say that Nitish support to Advani’s Yatra is part of his opposition to Modi. All anti-Modi forces in BJP and the NDA have started rallying behind Advani in preventing the Gujarat CM to emerge as the prime ministerial candidate of NDA.

“How could Nitish be away as he is also a potential candidate for the PM’s post? When it comes to the real battle, he can fight an old Advani , but not Modi,” smiles an NDA leader.

Anil Sinha, New Delhi