Buzz in Delhi: Will PM first ‘change’ VIP mindset in BJP?

After listening to PM’s <i>Mann ki Baat</i>, BJP workers wonder whether new diktats would be issued; speculation of Jaitley’s 2019 plans and more

Photo by Pradeep Gaur/Mint via Getty Images
Photo by Pradeep Gaur/Mint via Getty Images


After listening to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 31st episode of ‘Mann ki Baat’ on Sunday morning, a few BJP workers were wondering whether there really would be a change in the VIP culture mindset “within the BJP”. While the PM hasn’t worn a ‘₹10-lakh suit monogrammed with his name’ for some time now, his fondness for luxurious items such as designer fountain pens like Montblanc or designer watches such as Movado is well known. Would the PM now be making an image makeover by wearing only, say, a ‘Made in India’ Titan watch? This BJP worker was visibly a bit aghast as he looked at the Fossils watch gifted by a “friend” some time back possibly wondering whether he would have to give it up soon.

“Would the PM stop all lavish weddings?” one of them wondered, giving the example of a Union Cabinet minister who is said to have arranged around 50 chartered flights to fetch VIPs to Nagpur for his daughter’s opulent wedding.

“Just removing red beacon need not mean there would be a change in VIP culture,” says a retired bureaucrat. The long cavalcade, the inaccessibility for the common man to meet the ministers or top bureaucrats is a common thing, while it wouldn’t be difficult for a celebrity, he adds.

Is MCD results making Jaitley upbeat for a possible 2019 run?

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley maintains a great rapport with the media and is known for his ‘off-the-record’ briefings. When the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) poll results were pouring in with the BJP doing well, an upbeat Jaitley held one such gathering at his residence on April 26. However, the mere mention of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal made his face go red. “AAP should have come at the third position, not second,” he said. Jaitley’s hatred for Kejriwal is nothing surprising for a political reporter.

While the defamation case against Kejriwal, who alleged corruption in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) under Jaitley, is ongoing, the perceived popularity of AAP in Delhi is said to be the reason why Jaitley thought it was “unsafe” to contest from Delhi in the 2014 general elections. However, his decision to contest from Amritsar turned out to be disastrous, while the BJP swept all the seven seats in Delhi. With the MCD results going in favour of the BJP, journalists were wondering whether Jaitley would now be “confident” of contesting from Delhi in 2019.

Swaraj India honours ‘losers’, in advance

Did the politician in Yogendra Yadav simply ignore the psephologist in him? The co-founder of the newly launched Swaraj India had made some very tall claims in the run up to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections. But, forget winning any seat, all its candidates lost their security deposits. The party, obviously, didn’t see it coming.

A day before the results, Swaraj India held a meet at the Constitution Club to “honour” its candidates. Top party leaders—Prashant Bhushan, Shanti Bhushan and Yadav—hailed the event as a “new beginning in Delhi’s politics”. Some participants though were sceptical. “What if we lose the election? We will become the laughing stock,” said one. And, that was what happened the next day. Some joked saying that perhaps Yadav had anticipated the defeat. “It was for the first time that Yogendra, a former psephologist, predicted a 100% accurate poll result,” mocked a political activist.

Beginning of ‘Thakur raj’ in UP?

Since Yogi Adityanath became Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, the rise of bureaucrats from the Thakur caste has grabbed eyeballs in the national capital too. After Sulkhan Singh was made the new Director General of Police and Mritunjay Kumar Singh was made Principal Secretary to the CM, more ‘Thakur’ babus are being inducted—IAS officer Suresh Kumar Singh was made the CEO of UP Rural Road Authority and Prabhu Narain Singh the Vice Chairman of Lucknow Development Authority. Besides, there is a “news” doing rounds that the ‘Thakur’ MLA from Pratapgarh, Raja Bhaiya, could be inducted into the BJP. A picture of him touching the feet of Yogi Adityanath went viral on social media a couple of weeks ago.

A miffed senior journalist commented, “When Akhilesh Yadav was Chief Minister, the ‘brahminical’ media left no chance to criticise him for favouring bureaucrats from the Yadav caste, but now all of them are keeping a studied silence.” Yogi will perhaps “punish” them if they raise questions, he chuckled saying that Yogi was also following PM Modi on “silencing” the media.

BJP shuts door on Rane

Known to take 180-degree ideological turn, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Narayan Rane was apparently all but set to join the BJP before the party’s leadership intervened against the move at the last hour. Rane had previously left the Shiv Sena to join Congress. According to insiders, BJP doesn’t want to antagonise the Sena till the presidential election is over. Another theory being floated is that the BJP top brass doesn’t want Rane inducted—even though Union Minister Nitin Gadkari backs his inclusion—as Rane supposedly has limited influence in Sindhudurg district where the BJP is weak. “Rane’s loyalty is always suspect. That may be the reason behind the decision to put his induction on hold,” said a Mumbai-based Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) pracharak.

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