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Coomi Kapoor | Inside Track: Tough VP Wanted

Jagdeep Dhankar was not on the original shortlist compiled by the RSS and BJP brains trust for the position of Vice President. But Narendra Modi, in a meeting with Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and JP Nadda, said he was not convinced by any of the names suggested, which would have included Arif Mohammed Khan and Manoj Sinha. While the selection of Draupadi Murmu sent an astute political message, the running mate should not be selected simply on grounds of gender, caste, religion or region, the prime minister stressed.

The vice president’s most important duty was to function as president of the Rajya Sabha and he was disappointed that the previous president had been unable to control the House and allowed the opposition to define the narrative, he said. -he declares. Rajnath then brought up the name of Dhankhar. As Governor of Bengal, Dhankhar clashed with the state government over several issues and performed as a squad player for the BJP’s Bengal unit rather than promoting himself. In the second meeting, a consensus emerged on Dhankhar’s name, especially after it was discovered that he had a strong legal background, a major requirement for dealing with obstructionist opposition MPs citing legal points and parliamentary precedent. An added bonus was that Dhankhar is a Jat, a community that felt alienated after the farmers’ unrest.

Rear driving

It’s been almost a month since Eknath Shinde sworn in as Chief Minister of Maharashtra, but so far, apart from Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, not a single minister has been sworn in. The delay is largely due to the Shinde Shiv Sena having to make tough choices among the large number of ministerial aspirants. Shinde made four trips to Delhi and each time met with Home Secretary Amit Shah. Meanwhile, Fadnavis makes regular visits to Mantralaya and many of his old favorites in the administration have been reinstated in key positions.

Who dictated the names?

Mamata Banerjee planted herself in her heels and refused to support Margaret Alva’s candidacy for vice-president in protest at the unilateral announcement of her name without any real discussion between the opposition parties. More than Alva’s selection, Banerjee was furious over the announcement of Yashwant Sinha as the presidential candidate without consulting her, even though Sinha was a member of the TMC. (Banerjee was under the impression that Sharad Pawar would agree to be the presidential candidate.) Banerjee suspects that the names of Sinha and Alva were actually floated by CPM Chairman Sitaram Yechury.

Pawar accepted Alva’s name since they were traveling companions, leaving Congress when Indira Gandhi lost power after the emergency. Congress, in fact, is not in love with Alva, who in her autobiography and interviews openly criticized the arbitrary and ad hoc mode of operation of the Gandhi family. Banerjee wanted a Muslim woman as vice president. Najma Hepatulla and Mohsina Kidwai were two of the names suggested. His grouse is that Yechury, who leads a much-depleted CPM, still manages to determine the opposition’s course of action due to his closeness to Rahul Gandhi.

Relaxed chef

Samajwadi party members are wringing their hands in despair at the laid-back attitude of party leader Akhilesh Yadav. Yadav is happy with the party’s recent debacles – whether it’s SP MPs challenging the party whip in the presidential election or the loss of the two SP strongholds of Azamgarh and Rampur in the Lok by-elections Sabha. His refusal to campaign in the by-elections was certainly puzzling. Although he was alerted that a dozen MPs were likely to vote in the presidential poll, he declined to speak to MPs individually.

A retired UP bureaucrat close to Mulayam Singh Yadav tried to act as a peacemaker between uncle Shivpal Yadav, who is in contact with many party workers, and his estranged nephew. He arranged a tea party for the two of them at his residence in Noida. Shivpal waited for three hours, but Akhilesh did not show up. Shivpal angrily protested that he had been insulted enough. For his part, Akhilesh, who was leaving for London shortly, has a laissez-faire approach to these issues – anyone who wants to leave is welcome, he says. His strategy is apparently to focus on the Assembly polls of 2027 and not the Lok Sabha polls of 2024. But surely the results of the first poll will have an impact on the second.

Non vegetarian Bhavan

During the six years that Draupadi Murmu served as governor of Jharkhand, no non-vegetarian food was served at Raj Bhavan. The menu for visitors to the Governor’s Residence reflected Murmu’s strict vegetarian code. As a tribal, Murmu was once completely non-vegetarian, but after embracing the Brahma Kumari movement after the tragic death of her son Laxman, she stopped eating meat, even avoiding onion and garlic. With Murmu at Rashtrapati Bhavan, will it become completely vegetarian? Given the number of foreign dignitaries at the presidential residence, this may not be practical.