NDA’s deal time
When the Paswans, father Ram Vilas and son Chirag, up the bargaining ante, it is safe to assume that an election is round the corner and its outcome hangs in the balance. With the Bihar Assembly polls likely by October, Chirag has taken to criticising Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. On Saturday, he told party workers in a video conference that the shape of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar could change and on Sunday, a nervous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership reached out to Chirag. BJP General Secretary Bhupender Yadav met him for over an hour. Chirag has even spoken of becoming the chief minister, but sources say all that the Paswans want is a better deal in seat sharing and resources. They have better bargaining power, now that a third front is taking shape with former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha and his Rashtra Manch deciding to contest the polls.
Protesting price rise
Several leaders of opposition parties, including the Congress, who were reluctant to criticise the BJP-led government at the Centre on Chinese incursions, have now found their voice with the rise in petrol and diesel prices. On Monday, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said while she supported the BJP-led government on the China issue, it should reduce the petrol and diesel prices. The Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Tejashwi Yadav threatened a 5-km cycle yatra by party workers across Bihar’s villages on July 5 if the Centre did not reduce oil prices by Rs 20. Several Congress state units also protested. The Congress's Karnataka unit chief, D K Shivakumar, who officially takes over later this week, stole the show as he bicycled with his supporters in Bengaluru. Rahul Gandhi, however, issued a statement from the comforts of his living room, demanding the government reduce the prices.
Sunday was the 99th birth anniversary of former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao, and a time for several to remind people how the Congress's first family did not accord him the respect he deserved in his death. Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, who, like Rao, hails from undivided Andhra Pradesh, was the first to post his tribute to the former prime minister on social media. While he extolled Rao’s contribution to India’s economic growth, there was not a word for Rao’s finance minister, Manmohan Singh. There were demands from others that Rao should be posthumously conferred the Bharat Ratna in his birth centenary year. The BJP handles also tweeted tributes to Rao, as the Congress handles did eventually. People also pointed out that Rao was a polyglot. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said Rao would converse in Marathi with Sharad Pawar and S B Chavan, just as former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa would converse with Rao in Telugu.