Amid the turmoil in Delhi, some statements in Mumbai signalled a new rallying point for the Opposition. Whereas Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said that Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar’s name should be considered by all political parties for the 2022 presidential election, the NCP’s Majid Memon sent out a tweet saying ”The move to muster support for Shri Sharad Pawar to be next Rashtrapati may yield positive results and will bring all non BJP forces closer by 2022...”. Meanwhile, at an event in Mumbai later in the day, state minister and key Maharashtra Congress face Ashok Chavan also gave a diplomatic “consensus should be built on the candidature” statement, which hinted at some beneath-the-surface movement on the issue. While the presidential elections are more than two years away, one wonders what the significance of these statements could be. Observers believe it could be either to build enough support by making an early move or to irritate the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by talking about another adhesive force for anti-BJP unity.
In the past, the Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh (UP) had forged pre-poll alliances with both the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) under its incumbent chief, Akhilesh Yadav. These experiments woefully failed to fetch the desired results and the partnerships felt apart. Now as the SP, BSP, and Congress are mounting pressure on the Adityanath government over the Citizenship Amendment Act to emerge as the main challenger before 2022 UP elections, Yadav is treading carefully so as not to annoy the opposition peers. While the BSP and Congress are taking potshots at other opposition parties, Yadav is guarded in his statements, reserving the salvos for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
Aadhaar in place of PIB card
The new year has begun with unique demands on the media. The Press Information Bureau (PIB) accreditation card, which is authorised by the Union home ministry after police clearance, is being disregarded by key ministries and departments. Some offices on Raisina Hill, which takes you to at least five major ministries in North Block and South Block as well as the Rashtrapati Bhawan, had for long made it clear that PIB cards were not meant for them, insisting on their own access system to meet officials on the premises. But there’s a change now. That is, some prominent ministries are de-recognising the PIB even at the outer gate before one can reach the reception for a visitor’s pass. Security guards at one such building were heard asking for an authentic government document from a journalist before he could be ushered into the reception for a pass. “Give us something other than the PIB card …. Show us your Aadhaar card,’’ someone said in a grave tone. They couldn’t clarify why Aadhaar was a preferred document.