by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group
Piyush Goyal is Bharat Bhai, Truely
The North Block is abuzz with stories never heard of in the government before. When the newly appointed Finance Minister, Piyush Goyal visited the ministry soon after taking over, top officials including secretaries went to congratulate him in his chamber. They were surprised to see the Minister was sitting on a sofa rather on the designated chair for formal meetings. Goyal issued the first sermon that they will continue to do the same work they were doing and the personal staff of Jaitley was told to continue working as they were earlier. Goyal did not bring a single person of his choice in the finance ministry. Even after assuming the full-fledged charge of the Finance and Corporate Affairs Ministries, he prefers not to make frequent trips to North Block and calls for files in the Railway Ministry where he sits for long hours. Even the finance ministry's website which put out his name as new Finance Minister, was taken off within hours of being up-loaded. Arun Jaitley continues to be the Finance Minister according to the official website of the ministry. Even when Goyal holds regular meetings with the officials and ministerial colleagues, he does not occupy Jaitley's chair. Officials in the ministry say that Goyal is conducting himself as Bharat, younger brother of Lord Rama during the Ramayan era. When Lord Rama went to the jungles for 14 years, Bharat became the King. But he never sat on the thrown and put “Khadaon” (Wooden sleepers) of Lord Rama on it. Goyal is doing exactly the same. He also makes it a point to visit Jaitley at the AIIMS where he is convalescing after undergoing kidney transplant whenever in town. It is strange but true that Reuters news agency's news that Piyush Goyal will be the new Finance Minister has come true after two years of it being flashed. Goyal vehemently denied that he had any hand in it. But it turned out to be true and that too at a time when his hands are over-filled as he is holding four key portfolios-- Railways, Coal, Finance & Corporate Affairs. Cheers Bharat Bhai.
Rahul, not Sonia clinched the Karnataka deal
It was not Sonia Gandhi but Congress president Rahul Gandhi who “triggered” the post-poll alliance with the JD(S) as the results were trickling and it became clear within hours that the Congress is way behind the majority mark. It was Rahul Gandhi who gave a direction to the State leaders. He had discussed at length - plan A, plan B and plan C and what to do if “we don’t win”. D K Shivkumar who is the Man of the Season in the Karnataka power game disclosed to a few confidants, had told the party leadership in Delhi that the Congress would perform badly in South Karnataka, where the JD(S) is the main contender. Rahul made it clear that if the numbers are wrong, stay back, don’t bid or bargain for power”. He instructed Venugopal to seal the deal with JD (S) and entrusted Ashok Gehlot and Ghulam Nabi Azad who was in touch with Danish Ali, a confidante of H D Kumaraswamy. This was contrary to impression being created by a section of the Congress that Sonia and not Rahul decided to join hands with JD(S). In fact, Rahul Gandhi spoke to Kumaraswamy on Sunday, May 13 itself, two days before the results were out. This was followed up by a phone call from Sonia Gandhi to former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda reiterating the same proposal. In Fact, Siddaramiah, wanted to sit in the Opposition. But Rahul persuaded him to make way as larger challenge is on the horizon in 2019. It was Ghulam Nabi Azad who persuaded him to fall in line. Sonia Gandhi reportedly wooed Deve Gowda by saying that she had no hand when Congress withdrew support of his government at the Centre in 1997. Gowda had lost the Prime Minister's post.
How Amit Shah lost the Karnataka Plot
BJP president Amit shah was working on party's win in Karnataka for almost six months. In fact, his Man-Friday and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal was in regular touch with H D Deve Gowda and his elder son Revenna. The Gowdas were bitter with the Congress ever since Deve Gowda had been dislodged and arch rival Siddaramiah was made the Chief Minister. Lokmat was the first to break the story when Piyush Goyal went to meet the Gowdas in March at the latter's residence. He later asserted that he had gone there to discuss railway projects in Gowda's constituency. Shah and Goyal had offered them the most lucrative deal-- Deputy Chief Ministership to one son and a Cabinet post in the Central government to the other son. The alliance will be post-poll. It was because of this very deal that entire BJP leadership never criticised the Janata Dal (S) throughout the campaign. Rather the PM praised Deve Gowda. The BJP targeted only Rahul, Rahul and Rahul and his party. There were reports that Shah even met Kumaraswamy in Mumbai and the meeting was organised by Piyush Goyal. The formula was that if the BJP is below the majority mark it will enter into an alliance with JD(S) and share power. But Kumaraswamy walked into the lucrative offer made by Rahul Gandhi on Saturday itself that he will be Chief Minister.
Lalu upset with the Gandhis
Down but not out Lalu Prasad Yadav is extremely upset with the Gandhis. Reason is not political but personal. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had promised to attend the wedding ceremony of his son Tej Pratap at Patna on May 12. The day was fixed keeping in mind that the Karnataka polling will be over by then. Lalu Yadav wanted to make the wedding as demonstration of Opposition's unity in this hour of crisis when the CBI and ED are after him and his family. A chartered plane had also been kept in waiting for the Gandhis and special arrangements for their stay had also been made. But the Gandhi gave the ceremony amiss. Why ? No one knows. This was despite the fact that Rahul met Lalu at the AIIMS a couple of weeks ago. But what came as a surprise was that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar showed up at the wedding. Perhaps, he wanted the send a signal to the BJP leadership that he has his options open. The BJP leadership was not discussing with him Lok Sabha seat sharing arrangement with the Janata Dal (U). Nitish wanted a meeting with Amit Shah. But Amit Shah wanted him to talk to Bhupendra Yadav. Nitish felt slighted and sent the signal. More seems to be in store in Bihar in the months to come.