Two shades of the Delhi Assembly elections were visible in the Lok Sabha last week. While three-time winner Sheila Dikshit’s son Sandeep was busy accepting compliments from Congress MPs for ensuring this remarkable victory, the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate for Delhi, V.K. Malhotra, was grim. Sandeep, who was seated next to Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, was considered one of the main backroom boys who ensured a Congress victory. On the other hand, Malhotra’s election campaign in Delhi was considered an important reason for the BJP’s loss in the city.
Cut to the quick
Luck seems to have deserted President Pratibha Patil once again. After a not-so-memorable three-nation tour to South America in April (she had to face near-vacant Senate in Brazil and call off her address to the Mexican Parliament), Patil was on her second foreign tour when the terrorists struck in Mumbai. The Vietnam leg of the tour had gone off well but when she arrived at Bali, she came under fire. ‘India’s Patil begins tour in Bali despite chaos at home,’ screamed one headline. However, the criticism was probably unfair and too harsh: the President’s Secretariat wanted to cut short the visit but were requested by the government to stay on, lest it seemed that the attack was beyond India’s capacity to handle.
Ups and downs
Some political leaders cannot do without humour even under trying circumstances. Asked whether his party would bring back the anti-terror law. The Prevention of Terrorism Act, if it comes back to power after the general elections that are due sometime next year, a senior BJP leader quipped: “Before we come back to power, I hope P. Chidambaram comes to power as the new Home Minister and does to terrorism what he did to the Sensex.” Chidambaram may have just been shifted to the Home Ministry to tackle terrorism, but the Opposition party is not ready to wait and watch his performance in the ministry. It is ready to target him from the word go.
The distant traveller
Now It seems that it was none other than the Congress President Sonia Gandhi who suggested that the Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani be invited to travel with her and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Mumbai when the terrorists struck in the financial capital of the country. This, she felt, would send out the right message of political unity on the issue to the people. The Prime Minister, who wanted to go the following day, decided to reschedule his trip for the BJP leader. But Advani decided to go with his colleague Jaswant Singh.
Hallow the leader
The BJP may have failed to win the Assembly elections in Rajasthan, but Jodhpur-based priest Hemant Bohra’s commitment to constructing the ‘Vasundhara temple’ has not diminished. “Only a small battle has been lost. The BJP will surely win the bigger war (parliamentary elections),” said Bohra, who shot into the national limelight last year after he announced plans for constructing a temple depicting an idol of Raje in the form of a goddess. Bohra feels that the setback to Raje is indicative of a much larger role for her. About the temple plans, his resolve remains strong: “The temple will surely be constructed very shortly,” he asserted.