File photo of Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi on 24 October
File photo of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman | ANI Photo
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Sitharaman’s meetings with Advani, Joshi get BJP leaders curious

Among all the pre-Budget interactions, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has had, the ones that have got BJP leaders curious were her meetings with ‘Margdarshak Mandal’ (group of mentors) members L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. 

Sitharaman met Advani on 23 January, two days after she met Joshi.

Advani and Joshi have been sidelined in the party since Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014. While they were kept out of the government, they were given no role in the party either. The ‘Margdarshak Mandal’ hasn’t had a formal meeting even once since it’s constitution in 2014. 

Sitharaman, who will present her second Budget on 1 February, has been busy meeting many corporate leaders like Tata Sons Chairman N. Chandrasekaran, Adani group chairman Gautam Adani and Vedanta Resources Chairman Anil Agarwal as well as many parliamentarians.

Amid all these, she has also managed to take out time to further the government’s message about its aim behind the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which has triggered a wave of protests across the country.

This month, the minister attended meetings in Chennai and Jaipur on the CAA, answering questions about the legislation and trying to dispel “myths and rumours” about the law.

Rupani, Yediyurappa not in BJP’s star campaigners’ list in Delhi

The BJP is getting into election mode in Delhi with all guns blazing. 

The party’s 40-member list of star campaigners includes Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP national president J.P. Nadda, 16 Union Ministers  and four chief ministers — Yogi Adityanath (Uttar Pradesh), Manohar Lal Khattar (Haryana), Trivendra Singh Rawat (Uttarakhand) and Jairam Thakur (Himachal Pradesh).

Some chief ministers are, however, conspicuous by their absence from the list — Vijay Rupani of Gujarat, B.S. Yediyurappa of Karnataka and Sarbananda Sonowal of Assam. 

The face from the Northeast at the Centre, Kiren Rijiju, is also absent from the list. This is despite the fact that the country’s capital has a sizable number of people from the Northeast.

Only one former chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh), finds a place in the list.

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi also does not figure in the list despite the presence of a significant number of Purvanchalis in the national capital. The BJP is now banking on MPs Manoj Tiwari and Ravi Kishan to woo voters from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in Delhi.

When Bolsonaro became ‘Bolsnaro’

The invitation to Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro to be the chief guest at India’s 71st Republic Day parade caused much controversy given his reputation of making sexist, inappropriate and homophobic remarks.

But there was a small gaffe from India’s side. At an interaction organised by the Army Thursday to brief the media about Sunday’s celebrations, a small pamphlet containing details of the programme was distributed.

The first paragraph of the pamphlet incorrectly spelt the Brazillian president’s name as ‘Bolsnaro’.

It may just be a case of one missing letter, but given how formal and protocol-heavy the visit is, as well as the diplomatic aspect of it, this careless error is quite an embarrassment for the Indian establishment.

(Contributors: Remya Nair, Shanker Arnimesh and Ruhi Tewari)

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