Family above politics
With less than two years left for the next Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, the Samajwadi Party’s (SP’s) first family appears set for a reunion. The family had witnessed a vertical split when former UP minister Shivpal Singh Yadav, the younger brother of the SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, fell out with his nephew, then chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, in the run up to the 2017 polls. Shivpal later formed his own political outfit, the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) or PSPL. Although the PSPL had failed to win a single seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it had cut into SP’s vote share. SP ally, the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party, had wrested 10 seats against its tally of zero in 2014. Just recently Shivpal said he was ready for an alliance with the Akhilesh-led SP and that there was no dispute in the family. The bonhomie between the two factions of the Yadav clan was also evident during the recent Holi celebrations.
Soon after Jyotiraditya Scindia (pictured) joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tweeted, “Swagat hai maharaj, sath hain Shivraj (welcome maharaj, Shivraj would be with you)”. That was a play on the BJP campaign slogan during the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections in November 2018, when the party had said, “Maaf karo maharaj, hamara neta Shivraj (forgive us maharaj, our leader is Shivraj)”. At that time, the BJP had designed its campaign on the belief that Scindia was the Congress’ chief ministerial candidate. When journalists reminded him about that earlier slogan on Wednesday, Chouhan said, “If there was anyone in the Congress who was popular, it was maharaj. Ab maharaj aur Shivraj ek hain, BJP mein (now maharaj and Shivraj are together in the BJP)”.
Better safe than sorry
Desperate times call for desperate measures. As the threat of the coronavirus infection looms large, Members of Parliament (MPs) are taking all possible precautions. Not only did several MPs stay away from the Holi celebrations — generally a time to reach out to their constituencies — they were seen trying to find ways to avoid sharing the pen kept to sign attendance registers in Parliament. While MPs wearing masks and using hand sanitisers is a common sight, several could be seen wiping their mobile phones – used by their assistants to receive phone calls on their behalf — with wet wipes. Several MPs went a step ahead and sanitised their hands after shaking hands and touching other surfaces.