Influential Lingayat mutt chief Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru who was arrested for the alleged sexual assault of two minor students, the bureaucrat-turned-MP who spoke out against the “rotten section” of his party Trinamool Congress, and former Mohun Bagan and East Bengal goalkeeper who beat Bhaichung Bhutia 33-1 in the All India Football Federation presidential election — we bring to you Newsmakers of the Week.
Lingayat mutt seer Shivamurthy Muruga Sharanaru
The chief pontiff of Jagadguru Murugarajendra Vidyapeetha Mutt, Shivamurthy Muruga Sharanaru, was arrested Thursday for alleged sexual assault of two minor students. The seer heads one of the most prominent of the nearly 3,000 Lingayat mutts in the state, and his supporters see a power struggle over the control of the mutt as behind the charges. Before he became its head pontiff in January 1991, Shivamurthy was a student at the Murugarajendra Mutt. He had also backed the movement seeking declaration of the Lingayat faith as a separate religion from Hinduism when the Congress was in power between 2013 and 2018. Read Kiran Parashar’s report on the seer, and the reason why he and the mutt are at the heart of Lingayat politics.
New AIFF chief Kalyan Chaubey
Kalyan Chaubey has contested two elections in his political career so far, both with the BJP and both ending in losses (the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the West Bengal Assembly elections last year). But the sports administration career of the former India men’s national team goalkeeper kicked off on a successful note on Friday as he trumped former India striker Bhaichung Bhutia 33-1 in the All India Football Federation (AIFF) presidential election. In a year of upheaval at the AIFF that saw the federation’s long-standing president Praful Patel get ousted and India briefly banned by FIFA over third-party interference, Chaubey has his plate full, especially with the Under-17 Women’s World Cup scheduled for next month. But the 45-year-old is confident about overcoming the challenges. A look at Chaubey’s journey from football to BJP to AIFF chief.
Former Deputy CM Tara Chand
Earlier this week, former J&K deputy chief minister Tara Chand and three ex-ministers were among 64 Congress members who quit the party in support of veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. Chand and the three former ministers — Abdul Majid Wani, Dr Manohar Lal Sharma and Chowdhary Gharu Ram — had met Azad in Delhi after he resigned. Chand is a prominent Dalit face of Jammu and Kashmir, and had been part of the Congress since the late 1970s when he joined as a Class 10 student. His term as Deputy CM from 2009-14 saw extension of the Central government’s education policy to Jammu and Kashmir. Chand also got a draft Bill prepared to provide the right to free education to children in J&K between 4 and 14 yrs too, but it could not get Cabinet nod.
Rajya Sabha MP Jawhar Sircar
Jawhar Sircar entered Kolkata’s Presidency College (now Presidency University) at a time when the city’s campuses were in ferment, with the Naxalbari uprising radicalising an entire generation of young undergraduates. However, Sircar did not swim with the tide. He turned to English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson to channelise his angst, writing, “Theirs was not to reason why, Theirs was to do and defy.” Cut to 2022, after the bureaucrat-turned-MP spoke out against the “rotten section” of his party Trinamool Congress, a large section of the leadership is finding it difficult to process his statement, much like a young Sircar found the deeds of many of his batchmates confounding. Sources close to Sircar claimed he spoke out “not to damage the party, but keeping its best interests in mind”. But the criticism against him is showing no signs of letting up.
Congress leader Pradyut Bordoloi
Prominent Assam Congress leader Pradyut Bordoloi, the Lok Sabha MP from Nawgong, has joined the list of leaders who have written to Congress Central Election Authority (CCEA) head Madhusudan Mistry about making the party’s electoral rolls public to ensure transparency in the presidential elections. Read Debraj Deb’s report on Bordoloi, the Lok Sabha MP from Nawgong, who started his career with the NSUI, went on to become a three-time MLA from Margherita, and handled key ministries in the Tarun Gogoi government.
New Kerala CPM chief MV Govindan
A confidant of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, a committed ideologue and a prominent figure in the CPI(M)’s Kannur lobby, M V Govindan “Master” was chosen last week to head the party’s Kerala state unit. Govindan, a three-time MLA, is the second-in-command in the Vijayan government and handles the departments of local self-government and excise. By choosing Govindan, the CPI(M) has stuck to the three-decade-old tradition of choosing its state secretary from Kannur. Read Shaju Philip’s report on the “Master” who is known for his crisis management skills.