Pre-Truth — snappy, witty and significant snippets from the world of politics and government.
Divided loyalties even in CBI’s legal team
The raging feud in the CBI also played out during a brief hearing in the Delhi High Court Tuesday. When special director Rakesh Asthana moved the court seeking to quash the FIR lodged against him, the CBI started looking for legal help. While Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta gave it a miss, senior advocate Amarendra Sharan, who is the CBI’s standing counsel, accepted a personal brief from Asthana. The CBI eventually deployed Konduri Raghavacharyulu, a lawyer who is in the agency’s prosecution team in high-profile cases, including the Nirav Modi scam.
Raghavacharyulu, however, was himself under the CBI scanner. He was named in the ‘Diary Gate’ scandal as entry and exit logs of former CBI director Ranjit Sinha’s official residence showed that Raghavacharyulu, who was then mining baron Janardhan Reddy’s lawyer, had visited Sinha at least 54 times when his client was being investigated by the agency.
Also read: 3 deputies to reduce workload of NSA Ajit Doval
The Lotus Lounge
One might ask, what’s in a name. In India, these days, a lot of political messaging. A minor name tweak at the India International Centre, the cultural centre in Lutyen’s Delhi, has left its rich and powerful patrons wondering if it is subtle posturing to the ruling disposition.
After inviting suggestions from its patrons to propose an “attractive name” for its ‘Self Service Lounge’, the IIC has settled on the name Lotus Lounge. The lotus, as everyone knows, is the election symbol of the ruling BJP.
The seat-sharing arrangement for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections between the BJP and Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) continues to remain unclear but the fact that they will contest the polls together is a done deal. That, however, hardly deters political rivals from catching up. On Tuesday evening, senior JD(U) leader and Rajya Sabha MP K.C. Tyagi and Congress leader Rajeev Shukla were spotted together at Khan Market’s Choko la — a specialised chocolate retailer-cum-cafe. This left many wondering if something was indeed brewing or if this was just a case of political friends enjoying each other’s company.
Doval to deliver Sardar Patel lecture
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval will deliver this year’s Sardar Patel Memorial Lecture at the National Media Centre in the capital Thursday. All India Radio hosts the annual lecture in the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India’s first minister of information and broadcasting. The lecture series was started in 1955 and the inaugural lecture was delivered by C. Rajagopalachari, the last governor-general of India. For this year’s lecture, invitations have reached many senior bureaucrats. What has, however, intrigued many of them is the absence of the subject that Doval’s lecture will be on.
Fadnavis on a poll drive
Earlier this month, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis decided to review work across all departments of the state government. Bureaucrats in charge of all departments were given time slots and asked to make a presentation before the CM. They walked in, only to realise that the exercise was not so much to take stock of the work done, and issues pending, but to gather publicity material to showcase the Fadnavis government’s achievements as it completes four years at the end of this month. One bureaucrat said there were BJP ministers in the room taking notes of all the achievements. Another said that the ministers present for the review only seemed interested in the big numbers.
Kerala CM was in West Asia during Sabarimala row
At the peak of the Sabarimala controversy, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was travelling in West Asia as part of the state’s efforts to mobilise funds, from expatriates, in the wake of the devastating floods. The temple issue had the state on tenterhooks and the chief minister’s absence drew enough flak. The Left parties in Kerala, however, came to the chief minister’s defence, saying it was a pre-planned trip and that in no way did his absence affect the administration of the state. Vijayan returned on 21 October, a day before the Sabarimala temple closed for the month.
BJP planning to field Capt Gopinath or Srinath in Hassan bypoll
The Karnataka BJP is planning to field either former cricketer Javagal Srinath or Air Deccan founder Capt G.R. Gopinath for the Hassan Lok Sabha bypoll. The BJP hopes that this may help shift young voters towards the party as the JD(S)-Congress coalition is planning to field former Prime Minister Deve Gowda’s grandson, Prajwal. While Gopinath expressed surprise on hearing the proposal and said he hadn’t had any such discussion with BJP leaders, there is no word from the ex-cricketer yet. Srinath’s family originally comes from Hassan.
Also read: Maharashtra minister’s liquor delivery statement leaves CM Fadnavis high and dry
Solving Swamy’s Twitter puzzle
BJP MP Subramanian Swamy is known to be trigger-happy on Twitter. On Tuesday, as he posted a tweet about the CBI row, another Twitter user presented him a hypothetical situation, wondering what would happen if the BJP manages around 220 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 and Nitin Gadkari emerges as the first choice for Prime Minister.
Never one to skip a beat, Swamy promptly replied, “Would welcome it and support it if asked.” However, perhaps realising the import of what he just said, Swamy posted another tweet within a minute, “We are getting majority bigger than before so stop asking hypothetical questions.”
On Wednesday morning, his tweet predicting a comfortable BJP win in 2019 while in the same breath speaking of the government’s “poor economic record” confused many. “It now seems that 2019 will be an easy majority win for BJP because of our youth voters’ rising nationalist & Hindutva fervour placing that sentiment above the poor economic record so far. Once Ram Temple construction and Bail Gaadi goes to Tihar Vihar, BJP will net 350 LS MPs,” he tweeted.
(Contributors: Apurva Vishwanath, Ruhi Tewari, Pragya Kaushika, Manasi Phadke and Rohini Swamy)