Thursday, March 10, 2022

Huge loss for Congress in Rajya Sabha

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group
The hopes of many congress leaders to get a Rajya Sabha seat from Punjab have been dashed to the ground with the AAP sweeping the Assembly polls. Even the BJP and Akali Dal together cannot claim a single Rajya Sabha from the state. The AAP will have a bonanza of winning at least four out of five Rajya Sabha seats.

Be it Shamsher Singh Dullo or Pratap Singh Bajwa,both will retire on April 2 from the Rajya Sabha and are unlikely to return in future. Since the Rajya Sabha polls for three seats will be held first, each candidate will require 40 votes. The AAP will win at least two seats in the first round of Rajya Sabha polls. The third seat could go to the Opposition parties if Congress, Akali Dal and BJP and others could come together. Otherwise, the third seat will also go to the AAP.

Then the biennial poll for two seats will be held where 117 MLAs will elect them. Naresh Gujral (Akali Dal ) and Shwait Malik (BJP) will also retire from the Rajya Sabha. It is ironic that a new party like AAP will send another batch of 4-5 Rajya Sabha MPs in Parliament. The mandate of Punjab is such that AAP will sweep the Rajya Sabha polls and Congress strength in the Rajya Sabha will dwindle from 34 to 31. It is also losing a seat in Himachal Pradesh (Anand Sharma) and one in Assam.

It is a huge setback to Congress and Akali Dal.
Maharashtra’s Jaiswal new RAW Chief!
Maharashtra’s senior IPS officer of the 1985 batch Subodh Kumar Jaiswal seems to be a lucky man. Jaiswal was having a running battle with former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and looking for a way out. But he was not the first choice for the post of the CBI Director of the Prime Minister either when a short-list was prepared. The first choice was CBI's Special Director Rakesh Asthana, a Gujarat cadre officer and Modi's hot favourite. As luck would have it, Chief Justice of India, N V Ramana was against Asthana and consensus emerged in favour of Jaiswal during the selection committee meeting. Now the Prime Minister’s Office is very happy with Jaiswal and he has emerged as a favourite and trusted IPS officer in the government. It transpires that Jaiswal may soon be rewarded with another top job. If sources in the PMO are to be believed, Jaiswal may be sent to India’s premier espionage agency, Research & Analysis Wing (RAW). The current RAW Chief Samant Goel’s tenure is ending in June this year. But Jaiswal may be sent there in early April to RAW and Samant Goel may be appointed to another coveted post for the next couple of years. Jaiswal may also be happy in RAW as its chief for next two year. His tenure in CBI ends early next year and get a reward of one extra year. It may also be mentioned here that Jaiswal has been in RAW earlier and earned laurels.

Praveen Sinha may be next CBI Chief
Reward to Jaiswal is not without a reason. The government is keen to make Praveen Sinha as the next CBI Director. Sinha is currently number-two as Special Director. He is a 1988 batch IPS officer of Gujarat cadre and due to retire in April this year. If he is not made CBI Director before April, he cannot become a regular Director. When Subodh Kumar Jaiswal was chosen as the CBI Director last year, Sinha was not eligible for consideration for the post as officers belonging to batches between 1984 to 1987 were considered. If the post of the CBI Director falls vacant now, he can emerge as a strong contender for the top job. In any case, he can be given the charge of a Director without delay if Jaiswal quits before tenure and goes to RAW. Another reason in Sinha's favour is that he was elected to the Interpol's Executive Committee from Asia after a bitterly fought election last year defeating China. The entire might of the PMO and Ministry of External Affairs was put to ensure Sinha’s victory. This crucial post is for three-year and if Sinha is allowed to retire, India cannot retain this post at the Interpol. Therefore, in order to retain this post, Sinha is to be retained as no retired officer can be in the Executive Committee of Interpol as per rules. It is in this context that Praveen Sinha may have to be given the coveted post and Jaiswal being shifted to RAW. But there are many slips between the cup and lip.

Baffling reshuffle in PMO
The PMO is witnessing some interesting reshuffle and bureaucrats are keeping their fingers crossed. First, it was Senior Adviser Amarajeet Sinha in the PMO who quit his job all of a sudden seven months before his tenure in August 2021.Prior to him P K Sinha, Principal Adviser in the PMO, quit last year. Sinha was Cabinet Secretary prior to joining the PMO. It was rumoured that he may be brought in as LG of Delhi. But it's been over a year and he is cooling his heels. Now Bhaskar Kulbe who was appointed as Adviser to the Prime Minister, has put in his papers. Kulbe was earlier, secretary in the PMO and allowed to retire. After a couple of months, he was appointed as Adviser to the PM in 2020. But all of a sudden, he too put in his papers and quit. Interestingly, no replacements have been brought in the PMO after three senior officers quit in less than a year. The Principal Secretary to the PM, P K Mishra is reported to be in favour of cutting manpower in the government and beginning has been made in the PMO itself. It is authoritatively learnt that National Security Adviser Ajit Doval recently expressed his desire to resign considering his age. Doval is 77 years old and wants to be relieved. But the Prime Minister is reported to have declined to accept his resignation. Earlier, Nripendra Mishra, Principal Secretary to the PM, also quit a few months after he was re-appointed to the coveted post after Modi's big win in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Clouds over Gehlot, Baghel, No way
Having lost power in Punjab rather badly, the leaders in two Congress-ruled states – Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are waiting with bated breath for the high command to focus on restructuring the party and even change of guards. A decision will have to be taken on the new party president in these two states. While Sachin Pilot loyalists hope there will be a leadership change in Rajasthan, in Chhattisgarh, a group led by TS Singh Deo, the current health minister, is hoping for something similar. The incumbent Chhattisgarh chief minister, Bhupesh Baghel, is extremely close to Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and has played key roles in recent assembly elections in Assam and Uttar Pradesh. Therefore, there is no possibility of a leadership change. In the case of Rajasthan CM, Ashok Gehlot, the high command has committed that the next Assembly polls will be fought under his leadership. It means that his loyalists will be accommodated in the government. It is however, not certain what Pilot wants after the results of Assembly polls are out.

No Takers of Nitish Kumar
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is an extremely worried man. Ever since BJP emerged as number one party in 2020 Assembly polls forcing Janata Dal (U) to play a second fiddle, the “Sushashan Babu” has been desperately trying to find a way out. The day is not far when the BJP will split other parties in Bihar and form its own government in the event of winning the UP Assembly polls. It was in this background that Nitish Kumar's name suddenly made headlines as the possible Presidential candidate for the July 2022 polls. It emerged that freelance poll strategist Prashant Kishore was behind it. This news was spread after Telangana CM K Chandrashekhar Rao and Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray met for nearly four hours in Mumbai. When asked, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut denied saying there was no discussion on the presidential poll during the four hour long meeting as Raut was present throughout. It is Kishore who wants Nitish Kumar to move to the national scene to fill the vacuum among the non-BJP forces. But there are no takers of Nitish Kumar in the Opposition camp as his political integrity has taken a big hit.