Virendra Kapoor is a political commentator based in Delhi
Page 1 of 1

Amit Shah's push for simultaneous polls and Madhu Trehan's interview of Karan Thapar

KEEPING THE ENEMY confused and guessing is a time-tested strategy. In politics too, surprise and timing are important. BJP President Amit Shah’s letter to the Law Commission making a case for simultaneous polls seems to have set the cat among opposition pigeons. No longer is anyone clear if elections to state assemblies are to be held as scheduled later this year. The opposition hoped to put up a good show in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh a few months ahead of the General Election next year. However, if these polls are postponed and those for the Lok Sabha advanced from April-May to February-March, the momentum the opposition hopes to create for 2019 on the back of expected wins in these states will not materialise. Anti-incumbency against state governments would be subsumed by the national election, with Modi becoming the focus of the campaign. Besides, gaining control of those states would no longer be of any help in filling opposition party coffers in time for the General Election. Of course, nothing can be said with a degree of certainty when exactly the state polls will be held. But Shah’s missive seems to have thrown a spanner in the opposition works, with everyone now wondering. Maybe that was the real objective of his letter.

A CONSTITUTIONAL dignitary obliged to follow the official protocol on security and conduct at public functions seems to have made a habit of lamenting the ‘restrictive and constrictive’ dos and don’ts of his office. The other day, he detailed at length what all he is supposed to go through in order to curb his natural tendency to speak freely and be the master of his own time so that he could fulfil the demands of his current job. A group of journalists heard with increasing bewilderment what the generally loquacious politician has had to do to hold his prestigious post—which made many of those in the audience wonder why he accepted the high honour in the first place if it was such a pain.

THE LATEST ON the much anticipated new television channel with an expected tilt towards the Congress party is that its launch has been delayed by a few weeks. Tentatively named ‘Tiranga’, probably to match the evocative Republic TV, which is seen to be soft on the BJP, it was to hit Indian airwaves on Independence Day. It transpires that its real financier is not a Delhi-based Congress leader, as had earlier been assumed, but a Dubai-based Indian who is said to have made his pile using Congress connections. If the buzz in the market is to be believed, he acted as a conduit for the funds of several Congress notables. An articulate Congress member of the Lok Sabha is said to have had dealings with this loaded gentleman in the past, though whether they remain close now is not clear. A couple of television news anchors who find themselves without a viable broadcast platform are likely to find shelter in the new channel.

I HAVE KNOWN Madhu Trehan socially for a long time. And have also known all along that she is a courageous journalist who once got on the wrong side of the judiciary and felt obliged to shut down her newly-launched publication. All because Their Lordships fussed over being shown the mirror! Anyway, my regard for Madhu has leapt manifold after watching her interview Karan Thapar, the TV interviewer without a day job these days. For once, Karan Thapar was administered a strong dose of his own medicine—and he didn’t seem to like it even a wee bit. Oh boy, he squirmed and fumbled, barely able to counter the fusillade of hard questions Madhu threw at him without either mercy or restraint. At one stage, he protested that she was interrupting him—only to have her ask if that wasn’t exactly what he had done with his interviewees all along. It was a no-holds-barred interrogation of a man who had earned some fame—and more notoriety—for being pugnacious and often rude to the guests on his show, Devil’s Advocate. Don’t miss watching Madhu on You Tube. Poor Karan; Madhu even made him declare his sexual orientation. Keep it up, Madhu!