Off the record

Off the record

Jinxed post

For the last couple of days, the corridors of power in Patna had been abuzz with various theories of political permutations and combinations. But the captains of trade and industry had been more worried about what would eventually happen to one of the biggest tax reform bill - the proposed goods and service tax (GST).

Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, who by virtue of being the Finance Minister of Bihar, was also the chairman of empowered committee of state finance ministers looking into GST. As such, Modi’s exit will now hamper GST reforms because after quitting the Nitish Cabinet, he will have to relinquish the post of chairman of the panel too.

 In that case, the Centre will have to look for another chairman of the committee. Incidentally, Modi’s predecessor Ashim Dasgupta, who was finance minister in Buddhadeb Bhattacharya’s left front government too had met a similar fate when he had to relinquish the post of chairman of empowered committee of state finance ministers after Mamata ousted communists from Bengal.

After Sushil Modi took over from Dasgupta, he mooted several new proposals which included raising the exemption threshold for small and micro enterprises. But all these proposals will go for a toss after Modi’s exit at this crucial juncture. The new committee, with a new chief, will have to start afresh. And even the new chairman will be a bit wary of holding the post as neither Dasgupta nor Modi could complete their job and had to leave mid-way.

As one wag then rightly commented, “The post of chairman of empowered committee of state finance ministers seems to be jinxed.”

Abhay Kumar, Patna

Proxy battles

Hardly anyone in the Delhi political circle remained neutral to anointing Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the poll panel chief of the BJP. For the first time ever, a routine and almost ceremonial kind of designation has caused so much reaction across political lines. Janata Dal-United(JD-U) may be right in alleging that the BJP celebrated the appointment so pompously as to  create apprehension that Modi is the PM candidate of the party.  

Leaders did not limit themselves only to reacting; the announcement made them almost crazy. Extremes came up in the form of LK Advani’s resignation and its withdrawal, and Nitish Kumar’s walking out of the National Democratic Alliance.

But, battles behind the scene had been more furious and bloody. Top leaders of the BJP remained silent in public, but were finding ways to avenge the political assault. Thus,  there were a series of proxy battles behind the scene. It came in handy for leaders like Sushama Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and others when the JD-U decided to quit the NDA. They shed tears over the demise of the 17-year-old alliance with JD-U and indirectly accused Modi for the collapse. They initiated a proxy battle. But can big battles like this one be fought in proxy?

Anil Sinha,  New Delhi

‘Pawar’ politics

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, called Maratha strong man, is known for his surprise moves. His decision last Friday seeking resignations of NCP’s 15 ministers took media political pundits by surprise. But in hindsight the move was a logical extension of his desire to prop up his daughter Surpiya Sule into the forefront of NCP in the state politics. Pawar softly leaked out that he has taken resignations from his 15 ministers in the ruling Democratic Front alliance in Maharashtra.

Ostensibly, the securing of resignations of NCP affiliated ministers were seen as a precursor to the anticipated Maharashtra Cabinet reshuffle.

However, Pawar's move had nothing to do with the anticipated Cabinet reshuffle which incidentally the Congress was planning to have it before the 2014 Parliament and Assembly elections. Not many recall that Pawar had already predicted early elections and, going by his records, he rarely manages to miss a bus at the Centre.

 The wily politician,while claiming that though he would not be contesting polls both at the Centre and the State, has made it clear that he will not be taking sanyas from politics.  Pawar's political calculations, going by his past records, show that it rarely goes off the mark and it indicates that the Congress in the state will be in a bad shape and the NCP will have an upper hand.

At the Centre, Pawar wants to expand his party's strength in Parliament to increase his bargaining power and it was made clear to NCP ministers that their next venture is to be in Delhi and not in Maharashtra where the first woman chief minister will be his daughter.

Prabhat Sharan, Mumbai