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Dress circle seat for Smriti Irani in Lok Sabha

The honour of ‘giant killer’ in the 2019 general elections went not to Narendra Modi but Irani

By The Telegraph

  • Published 4.08.19, 6:04 PM
  • Updated 4.08.19, 6:04 PM
 A front row seat in the Lok Sabha is no mean achievement, considering the fact that Smriti Irani has made her debut in the Lok Sabha this year
A front row seat in the Lok Sabha is no mean achievement, considering the fact that Smriti Irani has made her debut in the Lok Sabha this year (PTI)

The honour of the ‘giant killer’ in the 2019 general elections went not to Narendra Modi but Smriti Irani. After all, Irani had claimed Amethi from the Gandhis. Soon after the hour of triumph, however, Irani’s supporters felt that their beloved leader may have been short-changed. For Irani was given the women and child development ministry along with the textiles portfolio that had been with her. There were whispers in the corridors of power that Irani had been denied her due. But the leader, who is known to be touchy, chose not to express her unhappiness — if she had any.

The silence has helped Irani strike gold. Two months later, she has been allotted a seat in the front row in the Lok Sabha. This is no mean achievement, considering the fact that Irani has made her debut in the Lok Sabha this year. Even Rahul Gandhi has a second-row seat. That must have pleased Irani. She was looking proud and happy in her new spot recently, leaving many in the Bharatiya Janata Party, including those senior to her, green with envy.

Humour in uniform

Narendra Modi had dropped some prominent ministers from his first government when he took oath for his second tenure. Most of those dropped were upset and they chose to withdraw themselves to the background. Some, however, have not given up and hope that they can bounce back. The former Union culture minister, Mahesh Sharma, is among them.

Recently, when the very vocal NK Premachandran, a Lok Sabha member from the Revolutionary Socialist Party, tried to corner Sharma during the discussion over the medical commission bill, the former minister made full use of the opportunity. “Premachandranji, you are a lawyer and I am a doctor. What you know, I don’t know and what I know, you don’t know. But what both of us don’t know, Modiji knows,” said Sharma, leading to guffaws in the House. But is humour the way to Modi’s heart?

Charm assault

AP Abdullakutty was expelled from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) for praising the Gujarat model of development. He was kicked out again, this time by the Congress, for hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the 2019 parliamentary elections.

Apparently, Abdullakutty was not interested in joining the BJP. But he hopped on to the saffron bus because of Modi’s insistence. When he met the PM in his Parliament office, he expressed a desire to retire from politics. “I just came for a courtesy call,” said the leader from Kerala. But Modi responded by saying, “You were thrown out of two parties because of me. Now you be with me. I won’t allow you to retire.” Modi immediately called up Amit Shah and directed him to do the needful. Shah sent Abdullakutty to JP Nadda, who finalized his entry into the BJP. Modi has given clear instructions to the party to make him the face of the BJP in Kerala. When a friend asked Abdullakutty in Delhi how he could join the BJP, he shot back, “Modi is not interested in harming Muslims, his focus is development. Wait for some time, he will turn out to be a messiah for Muslims.” Grilled further, he conceded, “I am floored by the personal warmth displayed by the prime minister. He was very friendly. He is a very good man.”

Strict terms

The Haryana assembly elections are likely to take place in a few months. Yet, the Congress strongman, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, can be spotted sitting in Parliament’s Central Hall almost the entire day. Most Congressmen are wondering why Hooda is wasting time gossiping when he should be in the field. Hooda has made it clear that he should be given the reins of the party for the

assembly elections and that Ashok Tanwar, the state party chief, should be removed forthwith. The stalemate has dragged on for months even as the BJP’s preparations for the elections are in full swing. Sources say that Hooda will form a new party if he is not given the primary responsibility in these elections. If Hooda does leave, that would be another wicket down for the Congress.

Futile wait

The journalist, Ram Bahadur Rai, an ideologue of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, was supposed to receive the Purushottamdas Tandon ‘Hindi Ratna’ award from the Union HRD minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, at a function recently. The audience kept waiting for Nishank well after the appointed hour but there was no sign of him. Nishank did not even take the organizers’ call, leaving both the audience and the awardee in the dark. After a long, frustrating wait, the organizers decided that Rai will receive the award from the audience comprising fellow journeymen.

But some members of the audience smelt a rat. They wondered whether the HRD minister had a grudge against the scribe who is not exactly a lightweight. Rai has immense clout in the BJP and the RSS, but then Nishank has now endeared himself to Amit Shah. Does that mean that he feels more secure now than he did in the company of RSS leaders?

PC Siddaramaiah has been going around meeting people to discuss the plan of action to face the by-polls for 17 assembly seats that will be held in about six months. He also finds time to enjoy a bite from traditional eateries. A few days ago, he was spotted with his friends digging into the famous masala dosas of Central Tiffin Room in Malleshwaram, Bangalore. Clearly, a lot can happen over dosa and filter coffee.

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