Off the record

Unexpected attendance

The presence of veteran Congress leader Janardan Dwivedi at an event attended by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat raised eyebrows in political circles on Sunday. Dwivedi, a close confidant of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, has been sidelined in the party after the emergence of Rahul Gandhi. He held the powerful post of AICC General Secretary (Organisation) before being edged out by Ashok Gehlot in 2018. Though Dwivedi does not hold any post in the AICC at present, he had played a key role in the selection of candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, by virtue of being a member of the Central Election Committee of the party. On Sunday, Dwivedi was present at the Geeta Prerna Mahotsav on the Red Fort Lawns, that had Bhagwat, senior BJP leaders, union ministers and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in attendance.

Sagar Kulkarni, New Delhi

AAP’s absence

On November 26, the Opposition held a protest near Ambedkar Statue in the Parliament House and boycotted the joint sitting MPs of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in Central Hall when President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the gathering. Meanwhile, the Maharashtra drama was at its peak and Opposition scored in this round as the Supreme Court ordered a floor test the next day, with Devendra Fadnavis also resigning. Amid this victory of the Opposition, one thing went unnoticed — the absence of AAP MPs at the protest venue. With Delhi elections round the corner, AAP did not want to share common space with Congress, which took the lead in organising the protest. It did boycott the Central Hall function but after telling some other Opposition parties that they could not and will not attend the protest.

Shemin Joy, New Delhi

No surprises, please

There is no hurry on the part of the government in passing Bills in the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament, unlike three months ago when it passed 30 bills. This time, the government has provided a list of 27 new bills it wants to pass. But for a couple of them in the past two weeks, no major bill has come up before Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha. This has made the floor leaders of Opposition parties a bit suspicious. With the August 5 episode fresh in mind when government stumped the Parliament by revoking special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bringing a bill to bifurcate it into two union territories, the Opposition floor leaders have told Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu that there should be no surprises this time. They believe the government may bring the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill into the House without giving much time for parties to prepare their stand and strategy. This time, leaders say they would ensure that nothing of that sort would not happen.

Shemin Joy, New Delhi

Bindu’s shadow causes fear

Bindu Ammini and Kanaka Durga, the two women in the 10-50 age group who entered Sabarimala Ayyappa temple on January 2, were enjoying police protection as the ruling CPM-government in Kerala was in favour of the SC order lifting ban on the entry of women to the shrine. But about a year down the line, Bindu Ammini feels that even her shadow inspires fear in the ministers. Bindu, who is a legal academician, said that even though she recently visited Kerala Law Minister A K Balan’s officer for some other issue, and the minister was scared to even admit the fact that he met her. “It seems the minister is now scared of even my shadow,” said Bindu who recently tried to visit Sabarimala with activist Trupti Desai.

Arjun Raghunath,

Spirits low in Cong

In Rajasthan, the Cong govt is about to complete its one year in power. Even though it is planning to celebrate, enthusiasm within the Congress party is low. Due to the ongoing tussle between the CM Gehlot and the deputy CM Sachin Pilot, the party workers are dull even though the first anniversary of the successful tenure of the party is two weeks away. After Congress lost all 25 seats in the polls earlier this year, Gehlot’s position had become weak. But after the merger of all BSP MLA’s in Congress, the results of the by-elections and local body elections has empowered Gehlot politically and he is openly making political attacks on RSS, BJP and Modi. .

Tabeenah Anjum, Jaipur

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