Off the record

Off the record

Unending battle

Badly bruised and battered in this game of one-upmanship, Lalu Prasad is one politician who won’t give up easily. He is girding up his loin to pay back Nitish in the same coin. But he knows for sure that that he alone can’t fight a man who has the backing of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. So he has urged JD (U) Rajya Sabha member Sharad Yadav (who has been his friend for 40 years) to join hands with him so that the ‘facist forces’ could be given a befitting reply.

“I am not the one who will be cowed down by legal cases and baseless allegations of corruption. I will give proper reply to the CBI and ED. But one thing is crystal clear. All these corruption charges and raids were carried out at the behest of Nitish, whom I could not read properly,” Lalu told RJD MLAs soon after the trust vote. “It’s good omen that Nitish left us. Now the Opposition could be united without such traitors. The battle has just begun,” Lalu tried to boost the sagging moral of his supporters.

Abhay Kumar, Patna

Nitish’s ire

Was the Bihar drama a result of a long brewing conspiracy hatched by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar? Or did the events of last week take a final shape after he met with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on July 22? In their 40 minute one-on-one, Nitish apparently told Rahul that he was in no mood to break the alliance but he could not appear to be compromising on his stand on providing clean government, insist Janata Dal (U) insiders. But Rahul is understood to have told Nitish that Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav should not be sacked just because of a “single FIR” filed against him at the “instance” of the Modi government.

Rahul’s response left Nitish in an angry mood. He even indicated to Rahul that Tejashwi’s continuance would dent his “anti-corruption” image. Rahul was unrelenting, according to JD(U) insiders who insist that the parting of ways on July 26 was forced on their leader and not a result of a long-standing conspiracy to join hands with the BJP. But Lalu and Rahul have publicly said they knew it coming.

Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi

Shah’s future

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to get Amit Shah elected to the Rajya Sabha has led to speculation whether he has bigger plans for the BJP president. Political circles have been abuzz with the talk that Shah may move into the Union Cabinet and take charge of a key portfolio. But those close to Shah have ruled out such a change, arguing that his principal focus will remain the 2019 parliamentary elections.

However, Shah will make his presence felt in the Upper House in important debates to articulate the BJP’s view points that Union ministers may find hard to voice. If the BJP is back in the saddle in 2019, Shah could be looking forward to a stint in the government.

Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi

Clearing the air

It is widely believed in residual Andhra Pradesh that there is a deeper conspiracy behind selection of son of the soil M Venkaiah Naidu to the post of Vice President. Naidu has been a single point of reference to all the ruling party MPs in New Delhi as he stood behind the state in tough times and helped secure several institutions assured by the bifurcation Act.

“I know many of you here believed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party head Amit Shah saw to it that I am out of the race for the prime minister’s post. Actually Modi had tears in his eyes after I filed my nomination. I am the only choice from South India that fits the bill,” Naidu said at a meeting in Vijayawada. Meanwhile, the ruling TDP is on a look out for a godfather to air their voice in Delhi after Venkaiah.

JBS Umanadh, Hyderabad

Sinner’s chant

Asking someone to chant the ‘Gayatri Mantra’ (a Sanskrit hymn) to get out of troubles can’t possibly be a bad advice, especially for the religious minded. But for Samajwadi Party (SP) patron Mulayam Singh Yadav, the same advice carried a different meaning. For him, the ‘Gayatri’ was none other than the formerUttar Pradesh minister and close confidante, party leader Gayatri Prajapati, currently in jail on rape charges.

Mulayam, who recently met Prajapati in jail and gave him a clean chit in the matter, was advised by the BJP to chant the ‘Gayatri Mantra.’ “Even the gods do not help criminals,’’ said a BJP leader. The ‘Gayatri Mantra’ may not help the SP patron in getting his confidante out of the jail but it may help him resolve his own family problems, which threaten to split his party.

Sanjay Pandey, Lucknow

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