Modi’s Punjab Gambit Could Create Some Surprises
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is adept at turning adversity into opportunity. The BJP is a weak politician in Punjab, which will go to the polls next month. Rarely has he crossed the double-digit mark in the 117-member chamber or contested for more than 25 seats. It only has two deputies in the outgoing Assembly. But such dismal data does not deter Modi and Amit Shah from trying to create an electoral stunner. If all goes according to plan, the BJP would challenge the most seats after the ruling Congress for the first time. He had always clung to the tail of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) under his patriarch Prakash Singh Badal.
Now, for the first time, holding Saffron will lead an alliance of its own. The partners are Amarinder Singh who suppressed the Congress to start his own Punjab Lok Congress (PLC). Prominent Akali leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa left SAD to float Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt) -SAD (S). The two would compete under the saffron standard. The BJP has always thrived and survived through mergers, defections and acquisitions. Modi is betting on a multi-angle contest to prevent the SAD, Congress and AAP from winning a majority.
Amarinder and Dhindsa don’t ask for much; the BJP could offer them a total of 60 tickets and challenge the remaining 57 mainly in the cities. He would be happy to let the SAD-S and the PLC take on the SAD as the BJP faces Congress in all seats. BJP leaders whisper that their party hopes to win more seats than its two partners and form the government by rallying rebels from other parties after Amarinder and Dhindsa shift the votes of the Akali rebels and Congress to urban areas.
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However, the CM face is a tricky bend. The BJP is in no mood to concede the first post to its partners. Unfortunately, it lacks a local leader with the required support either from the unity of the state or from the population. For the past three decades, its central leadership has not let local bigwigs like Navjot Sindhu rise, giving in to pressure from Badal Parivar. If the BJP’s strike rate turns out to be better than that of its allies, the Punjab could issue a miracle warrant. Modi hai to mumkin hai is on trial in Punjab.
Lucky in Lucknow with New Babu?
Modi is the master of surprises in the selection of babus for sensitive positions. Over the past seven years, he has rejected archaic government conventions and rules while training public servants to face new responsibilities and challenges. His message: show me the face, and I will frame the rules to accommodate the apparatchik. The re-employment and extension of the services of retired babus are not the exception but the rule. Durga Shanker Mishra, an IAS officer from the 1984 UP group, was about to retire as Secretary, Housing and Urban Development on December 31.
According to North Block Scuttlebutt, he expected a rise in the Center. But Modi had other plans. Mishra enjoys a good reputation and is known as a tough leader. The Prime Minister’s point of view is that if Uttar Pradesh has a strong Chief Minister in Yogi Adityanath, it also takes an equally powerful and efficient archon to wake the local bureaucracy from its slumber. Modi is in awe of Mishra who has stepped up the implementation of his favorite plans like Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
In addition, Mishra is well acquainted with the complicated state bureaucracy and caste governed and style of work. Surprisingly, he plunges into murky waters just before the implementation of the polling code of conduct, which would cripple his authority. But he has been given an unprecedented one-year assignment as chief secretary and will not retire until December 2022. The BJP hopes to return to power and expects its super babu in Lucknow plays an important role in the deployment of senior officials thereafter. There is speculation in the state capital that Mishra has been sent with a long-term program to overhaul the administration to ensure better performance with accountability. The 2022 result will reveal whether the Panjandrum Paratrooper is part of Modi’s 2024 mission or not.
IT versus IT in technical issues
Corporate India’s golden rule is that it must get credit for success while government agencies are blamed for failures. Friday evening was the deadline for filing computer declarations after the deadline was extended twice for technical and Covid-related reasons. About seven crore taxpayers had yet to submit their contact details. However, according to the IT department, only around 5.78 ITR crore for AY 2021-22 were deposited until Friday evening – far less than last year’s 5.95 ITR crore and less than 6.78 ITR crore. in 2019-2020. Why the dive? Neither the government nor the agencies responsible for the high-tech filing system are crap. Even on the last day, many taxpayers were struggling on the portal to file their documents and took to social media to voice their woes. The sarkar has officially denied any problems. However, during an informal briefing, Infosys was blamed.
This was the case with IT vs. IT – two years ago the global tech giant was awarded 4,200 crore to deliver a new IT portal to reduce the processing time from 63 days to one day. only. It was supposed to be taxpayer friendly, simple in design with quick refunds. But there is little progress despite repeated reprimands from the finance ministry. But the powerfully connected admirers and promoters of the now foreign-owned Indian mega-corporation are discrediting the IT department. They say he’s stung by the prospect of losing his arbitrary powers and has forced Infosys to change specifications and change the scope of his original tenure.
Juniors have their say
Modi is known to be an ace in implementing his wishes, directions and decisions without delay. In recent months, he has been pushing for increased involvement of ministers of state in the decision-making process and using them to implement the government’s agenda to speed up the completion of various infrastructure projects and d other political changes. Currently, ministers of state feel left out even with an office, car, nine-person staff, and a Lutyens Type VII bungalow.
As a rule, MoS are never invited to Cabinet meetings and have little opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister unless specially summoned. Modi has decided to hold regular meetings of his 78-member cabinet to which the 45 MoS will be invited. In one of the first meetings, he advised cabinet ministers to give more authority to their subordinates. But it came to Modi’s attention that a few senior and seasoned mantris did not take his advice seriously; in fact, some of them even ask their subordinates to prepare answers to questions from Parliament but do not open their mouths in the House. Now juniors are looking for a suitable opportunity to inform the Prime Minister of their forced dismissal.
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