Coomi Kapoor’s Inside Track: Amit Shah’s Footprint in Maharashtra’s “Operation Topple”


The surprise appointment of Eknath Shinde as Chief Minister and Devendra Fadnavis’s acceptance of the junior post bore the stamp of Amit Shah. Fadnavis played a secondary role in the Sena rebellion. He kept Shah abreast of developments in Maharashtra from the start. The latter warned the overambitious Fadnavis not to reveal his hand too soon. The overthrow operation was so secret that when Fadnavis flew to Vadodara to meet Amit Shah and Shinde on the night of June 25, he first flew to Indore to deter Thackeray’s men. The BJP worked on Shinde for over six months. The Sena executive was particularly shaken when the premises of a close associate were raided by income tax authorities. Shah and Fadnavis have long since ironed out their differences, but Shah saw Shinde’s elevation and Fadnavis’ humiliation as part of a long-term strategy to bring the powerful Maratha caste into the fold of the BJP and weaken the Sena. Fadnavis himself was kept in the dark about his future role until the very end. Hence his initial reluctance to accept the position of Deputy CM.

politically unsound

While the BJP maneuvers are half the story, Uddhav Thackeray must also share the blame for his MPs’ disenchantment. The mild-mannered Uddhav is temperamentally unsuited to politics, especially leading a party full of tough-talking street fighters. He never wanted to be a CM, but his wife Rashmi and son Aaditya were ambitious on his behalf. Rashmi placed relatives in key government positions and she and Uddhav’s close aide Milind Narvekar blocked all access to Uddhav. The Hindutva-minded Sena MPs felt closer to the BJP representatives they had known for years. On the other hand, they were wary of their NCP allies, their longtime adversaries in the Maratha-dominated constituencies. Incidentally, besides Shinde, there is a BJP mole in the NCP and Congress camps. Both were ready to help the BJP with its defection plans, but unlike Shinde, they could not promise a defection of two-thirds of MPs. And the BJP wanted to make sure another election was avoided.

Rahul calls EPS
After the BJP announced the name of Draupadi Murmu as its presidential candidate, Rahul Gandhi phoned AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) asking for support for opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha. The DMK was naturally concerned about an overture to its rival. But Rahul has been suspicious of the DMK’s intentions since its leader and representatives of Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister MK Stalin in opposition talks seeking a presidential candidate stalled without support adamant to a common candidate before the BJP announced Murmu’s name. Although Murmu’s profile, which sends a message of social justice, suited the DMK better than the Sinha upper caste, he eventually fell into line. The intermediary for the Congress talks with the AIADMK was Sunil Kanugolu, a pollster who worked for the AIADMK and is now with the Congress. Rahul would like to keep his options open in Tamil Nadu for 2024, given the DMK’s lukewarm support on some issues, including the National Herald case against him, Sonia Gandhi and other Congress leaders.

Limit Tales
In his latest book, Scars of 1947: Real Partition Stories, the affable Congress politician, journalist and cricket administrator, Rajiv Shukla, interweaves his memories with intriguing tales of Pakistani high society, with whom Shukla has been associated for more than three decades. . For example, it recounts the mysterious circumstances under which the battered body of Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s sister Fatima was discovered in 1967. Fatima lived alone. The day before, she had attended a wedding and was in a good mood. There was a request that the corpse be exhumed, but Ayub Khan’s government at the time refused. Shukla also tells that singers Noor Jehan and Lata Mangeshkar were close friends. Lata, although she has many fans in Pakistan, refused to visit the country. So, the two singers met at the BSF guest house on the Wagah border, both carrying culinary delicacies from home. Writing about Sharmila Tagore’s late husband, Nawab of Pataudi Mansoor Ali Khan, Shulka notes that he and his father were both captains of the Indian cricket team. But Pataudi senior, Iftikhar Ali Khan, was made captain because the original choice, Bhausaheb Babasaheb Nimbalkar, an outstanding cricketer, came from an ordinary family and members of the royal houses of the team refused to be led by a commoner.

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