Pre-Truth, our new feature, will bring you snappy, witty and significant snippets from the world of politics and government.
The Fit India challenge started by I&B minister Rajyavardhan Rathore is apparently giving the Congress workout blues. The joke doing the rounds in BJP circles is that Congress members have been avoiding exercising, going to the gym or running ever since the campaign began on social media. “They are fearful that someone might record their exercise regimen and put it up on social media, and it may be misconstrued as support for the Fit India initiative,” said a senior minister. He said the Congress was willing to oppose any good initiative of the Modi government, even if it was good for their health.
Keeping Maharshtra fit
Staying with the Fit India initiative, Maharashtra minister Girish Mahajan recently took up the challenge. He posted a video of himself doing surya namaskars and push-ups on social media. It would not have been much of an effort for the 58-year-old BJP leader who is known to be a fitness freak — he works out for two hours every day, watches what he eats and has a personal trainer. Mahajan now has passed on the challenge to his cabinet colleagues, naming chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, ministers Sudhir Mungantiwar, Pankaja Munde and Chandrakant Patil and former cabinet minister Eknath Khadse. “This is not necessarily a challenge. My only objective is to get my colleagues to also exercise on a daily basis,” Mahajan said in the video on Twitter.
PM no show
One person who has accepted the ‘Fitness Challenge’ but is yet to post a video is Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The PM had accepted the challenge from cricket captain Virat Kohli last week, promising to share his “own Fitness Challenge video soon”. To be fair, the prime minister has had a hectic schedule since — travelling to West Bengal and Jharkhand Friday, Odisha Saturday and Baghpat Sunday. On Monday, he left for a three-nation tour to Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. Sources say he will share a fitness video but only after he returns Saturday.
Will Chief Justice Dipak Misra call a collegium meeting and finally reiterate its recommendation to appoint Justice K.M. Joseph as a judge of the Supreme Court is a million-dollar question. The collegium, which has to take a unanimous decision to make it binding on the government, has already deferred the matter thrice. Justice Jasti Chelameswar, who retires on 22 June, left Delhi for his hometown on 20 May, two days after the court’s summer break began. Since Chelameswar is unavailable, it was pretty much decided that the next meeting will be only after the summer vacation when Justice A.K. Sikri takes Chelameswar’s place in the collegium. But word is now out that Chelameswar will return to Delhi on 15 June, ostensibly to vacate his official bungalow. His other colleagues — Kurian Joseph, Ranjan Gogoi and Madan B. Lokur — are likely to use the opportunity and insist that the meeting be held for a final decision on Joseph.
The right figure
Last week, a news channel came up with its mood of the nation poll. According to its survey, the NDA will garner 60 per cent of the vote share in Bihar in 2019, two per cent higher than it managed in 2014. The JD(U) was not a part of the NDA in 2014. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, suspected to be weighing his options these days, found the number interesting and asked Sanjay Jha, a party leader close to him, to check with the channel about the JD(U)’s share in the 60 per cent. The channel told Jha that of the 60 per cent, the JD(U)’s vote share was 20 per cent. The figure made Nitish happy as individually he has a 20 per cent stake in Bihar politics.
To return or not
J&K Governor N.N. Vohra is all set for life beyond the Raj Bhawans in Srinagar and Jammu. Vohra, whose second term ends next month, has even got his house in Gurgaon renovated. He has also become more active in managing the affairs of the India International Centre (IIC) of which he is president. But it seems that the Centre may have other ideas. For there are indications that Vohra could be asked to continue in his post for some more time, if he is not given a fresh five-year tenure. J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who has very good relations with Vohra, has been trying to persuade the Centre to grant him another term. It now seems that the Centre may be seriously considering her request.
BJP house hunt
The search is on for five-bedroom accommodations in Bhopal, Jaipur and Raipur for BJP chief Amit Shah. The BJP president does not like to stay in hotels and wants houses in the capitals of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh to oversee preparations for the assembly polls scheduled for the end of the year. Shah had taken a house in Bengaluru and in Lucknow when elections were held in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh. Highly-placed sources in the BJP say these houses are usually rented four to five months before polls. Senior BJP functionaries like Ram Lal are encouraged to use them too as Shah does not want BJP leaders to stay in hotels.
Reward for Russian honour
The Indian ambassador to Russia, Pankaj Saran, has been appointed as the deputy national security adviser. He will now report, alongside former R&AW chief Rajinder Khanna, to NSA Ajit Doval. Saran has had a string of interesting postings, including a stint in Bangladesh, and has served as the joint secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office during the Manmohan Singh era. He held the powerful post for five years. Clearly, his able handling of the informal Sochi summit between Prime Minister Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin has helped him land this new job. The clincher may have been Putin coming to see Modi off at Sochi airport, a gesture he did not bestow on either German Chancellor Angela Merkel or French President Emmanuel Macron. There were several contenders for this post, of course, including former ambassador to the US, Arun Singh (and a columnist for ThePrint); former chief of the National Security Advisory Board P.S. Raghavan and former secretary in the MEA, Amar Sinha. Meanwhile, special secretary to the NSA, Asif Ibrahim, is retiring early next month.
(Compiled by Anshuman Kumar, Maneesh Chhibber, Pragya Kaushika, Manasi Phadke, Ruhi Tewari, Jyoti Malhotra)