Off the record

Road bound

BJP president Amit Shah has asked the Union ministers to take the road route rather than travel by helicopter for the remaining phases of Bihar Assembly elections so that they can connect to more voters. Consequently, of the 16 private helicopters that the BJP had hired for the campaign, it has returned five after the second phase of polling on October 16.

The first two phases had seen many BJP ministers hopping on to the choppers to reach far-flung venues as travel by bad roads is back-breaking. Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to use the chopper to address more than a dozen rallies, others will use the road network to the maximum extent possible. Besides Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj too are slated to address a series of rallies.
Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi

Home truths

The leaders of the grand alliance were quick to retort PM Modi’s attempt to draw mileage from a project which was actually a brainchild of RJD chief Lalu Prasad. Modi, while speaking at Marhaura in Saran, gave credit to his junior railways minister Manoj Sinha for the upcoming Marhaura diesel locomotive factory. “Everyone knows when Lalu Prasad was the railway minister in UPA-I, he got the proposal cleared for the diesel engine plant in his constituency Chapra, now called Saran,” said an AICC leader.

The Congress leader also assailed Modi for spreading lies about former prime minister Chandrashekhar. “Modi spoke at length about Chandrashe-khar’s hatred for the Congress, but he forgot that it was with the support of the Congress that he (Chandrashekhar) became PM in November 1990. But then, Modi has this habit of distorting history. For example, during the Lok Sabha polls, he said Chandragupta belonged to the Gupta dynasty, while the fact is he belonged to the Maurya dynasty,” he added.
Abhay Kumar, Patna

Granny’s pick?

Indira Gandhi’s close aide Makhan Lal Fotedar’s book, ‘The Chinar Leaves,’ is due for release on October 30. The veteran Congress leader’s claim in his book that Indira Gandhi wanted Priyanka and not Rahul Gandhi to be in politics has set off a buzz among those Congress leaders who are hoping that the book can bring focus back to Priyanka and reignite the demand for her to play an active role in the party organisation. This, even as speculation is still on about when her brother’s ascent as the Congress president will actually take place.

Fotedar, who was once seen as an influential Indira aide, has been out of the woods for quite sometime. But his claim that barely four days before she was assassinated, Indira Gandhi visualised that Priyanka would emerge as the most acceptable leader as people would see her (Indira’s) image in Priyanaka, is a talking point among party leaders who aren’t too happy with Rahul’s style.
SI, New Delhi

Centre of attraction

Devansh, grandson of Andhra Pradesh CM Nara Chandrababu Naidu, was the cynosure of all eyes at the foundation laying ceremony of Amaravati – the new capital of the residual state. Cameras zoomed on him when his mother Brahmani, NTR’s granddaughter, arrived at the venue carrying the toddler and the whole crowd went gaga about the new entrant in Nandamuri and Nara families.

However, the focus shifted to PM Modi as he arrived at the venue and cameras followed him to the main stage where he had a chance to meet Devansh. Much to the surprise of everyone, Modi not only offered to shake hands with the toddler but also let him wear his spectacles. “Now you can see what the PM can see,” he told little Devansh. It was the happiest moment for Lokesh, Devansh’s father, who was carrying the most sought-after toddler in the state.
JBS Umanadh, Amaravati

Mehbooba for J&K CM?

Rumour mills in the corridors of power in Jammu and Kashmir are rife that PDP President and MP Mehbooba Mufti, is all set to replace her father Mufti Mohammed Sayed as CM. Sources say Mufti, during his recent meeting with PM Modi in New Delhi, expressed his desire to handover power to his daughter, owing to his deteriorating health. The daughter seems to have taken cue.

Mehbooba, who would otherwise stay away from public functions since the PDP-BJP alliance came to power in March, now often steals the shows by her presence and speeches at public functions. While she looks optimistic, some other PDP leaders like Muzaffar Beg are also in the list of eligible candidates for the post of CM. Will Modi bank on “naari shakti” in J&K, is for time to decide.
Zulfikar Majid, Srinagar

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