Thursday, June 10 2021

Dive In

Sad state you are in. Expecting me to worship players like you do… by the way I am not a fan. I am an analyst. And Jadeja doesn’t know English so he did not know the actual meaning of bits and pieces. And surely somebody spelt verbal diarrhoea for him.

That’s commentator and former cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar allegedly dissing Ravindra Jadeja in a Twitter DM conversation. Manjrekar appears to be responding to criticism of his 2019 comment, when he said, “I am not a big fan of bits and pieces players which Jadeja is at this point of his career in 50-over cricket”—and Jadeja in response dismissed his “verbal diarrhoea.” You can see the leaked screenshots here. Times Now has more context.

Big Story

BJP’s growing list of troubles

TLDR: Between the disastrous second wave and the lost election in Bengal, this has not been a good year for the saffron party. And its woes show no signs of receding as troubles in different states add to its headache in Delhi. Here’s a quick jaunt through BJP’s big trouble-spots.


Kerala: The corruption drama

State of play: The BJP did abysmally in the recent state elections, garnering exactly zero seats—losing the one seat it had to CPI(M). The state party chief K Surendran failed to win either of the two seats he contested. The embarrassing setback did little to endear Surendran to his own party—which has always been split among factions, many of whom have been clamouring for his head. They have been blunt in their criticism:


“I have never seen the state president of a party contesting from two seats. The helicopter politics will not create any impact in Kerala. The trick that works in north India will not work here.”


The hawala tamasha: Money that has to be kept off the books is routinely moved via hawala networks—informal channels that physically transport huge wads of cash from Point A to B. The people transporting this cash are also attractive targets for gangsters—who waylay and loot them while in transit. Since the money is kinda shady, most don’t even file a police report. But unfortunately for the BJP, this is what happened instead:

  • There was yet another highway heist on April 3 at Kodakara, Thrissur—in the run up to the state elections. 
  • But this time, the driver of the car, Shamjeer Shamsuddin, filed a complaint—claiming that the gang of nine men had robbed him of Rs 25 lakhs.
  • But when the police probed the origin of this stolen money, the trail led them to Shamsuddin’s employer, an RSS activist Dharmarajan—who had been tasked with moving the stash from Kozhikode to Kochi. And the police discovered that there had been Rs 3.5 crore in the car.
  • Dharmarajan confessed to the police that the money was being moved from Karnataka to various districts in Kerala for election purposes. And this particular tranche was supposed to be handed over to a BJP district official.
  • Not helping party chief Surendran: Dharmarajan’s call records show that he was in touch with his son on the day of the heist.


Adding to BJP’s troubles: There are at least two new allegations of corruption hanging over Surendran’s head. In one case, a newly defected leader says he was paid Rs 2.5 lakh plus in-kind bribes to withdraw his nomination from one of the seats contested by Surendran. In the other case, he is accused of bribing a tribal leader, giving her Rs 10 lakh to attend an election meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah—and there is a viral video clip being presented as evidence. A case has been registered against Surendran in the first instance.


To sum up: The BJP party at the centre is squarely implicated in the election corruption allegations against Surendran. The reason: his close relationship with union cabinet minister V Murleedharan. One state BJP leader tells The Print: “[The] core of this loot and black money case belongs to Surendran and Muraleedharan, who were given a free hand in the management of resources and to lead the election.” And a former state BJP chief says:


“There is nothing new in the distribution of election funds given by the central unit to candidates, but the crisis has become deeper because, without doing homework at the grassroots level, we want to become the alternative force by hook or by crook.” 


But, but, but: the BJP is stuck with Surendran for now because “any change in state leadership will prove the loot case credible… that the BJP used black money through hawala for Kerala polls, which will create embarrassment for the whole party.”


Bengal: The ghar wapsi drama

The state of play: The aftermath of the state election has been as acrimonious as the electoral battle—with each side charging the other of foul play. The BJP has been using the CBI to go after Trinamool leaders, while fiercely complaining about post-poll violence targeting its party workers. Leading the charge, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Suvendu Adhikari—a recent defector from Trinamool ranks—who claims the situation “is far worse than what is required for the Centre to impose President’s rule under Article 356.”


Notably, Adhikari was promptly contradicted by his fellow defector and Bengal BJP leader Rajib Banerjee:


“People will not accept the constant threats of Delhi and imposition of Article 356 being posed to a government that has come to power with an overwhelming mandate. We should rise above politics and stand by people affected by the Covid pandemic and Cyclone Yaas.”


FYI: Banerjee joined the BJP in the presence of Amit Shah after being dramatically flown to Delhi in a private jet arranged by the party.


The ghar wapsi chorus: As with Kerala, electoral defeat has splintered the BJP ranks—but in this case, the rift could trigger a ‘reverse exodus’—as a number of the Trinamool leaders who defected to the BJP are contemplating returning home. Trinamool claims 35 BJP MLAs are ready to leave. Giving force to that claim: At least three former TMC MLAs have openly expressed regret at joining the BJP. 


But most embarrassing for the saffron party will be the loss of its national vice-president Mukul Roy—the big Trinamool prize it has handsomely rewarded. Roy’s son Subhrangshu recently thanked CM Mamata Banerjee for reaching out during his mother’s illness, saying, “West Bengal does not accept divisive politics. I have understood that…Anything is possible in politics.” Anything, indeed!


Point to note: Mamata has generously made clear,“Those who had left the party will be welcomed if they want to come back.” But not everyone in her party shares the sentiment:


“Almost all those who have lost the elections will have no other option but to return to the TMC because they will face a backlash from the BJP old guard. But a section within our party is not keen to take back the traitors.”


Uttar Pradesh: Modi vs Yogi


In today’s edition

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Reading Habit

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