RAHUL GANDHI was not in the country when the assembly elections to five states were announced. On his return, there was a plan for him to lead a high-level delegation to China on the invitation of the Communist Party of China. The invitation was accepted months ago. But it struck the Congress leadership that Rahul and other top leaders including Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is the party’s general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh, could not be out of the country for a week in the middle of the poll campaign. After contacting Rahul in London on January 4, the party decided to request the Chinese to reschedule the engagement. The visit will now take place after the elections.
FOR CAPT Amarinder Singh, the “one family, one ticket” rule is non-negotiable. But on Thursday, the party picked Deepinder Singh Dhillon as its candidate from Dara Bassi, although his cousin, Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon, has already got a ticket from Faridkot. The decision to give tickets to the Dhillion brothers has triggered a debate. While one section says it goes against the “one family, one ticket rule”, those close to Amarinder argue that they are not real brothers. Meanwhile, the party has fielded Rajinder Singh — son of MLA Lal Singh, who is known to be close to Amarinder — from Samana seat. It remains to be seen whether the party fields Lal Singh from Sanour, and breaks the rule.
FOLLOWING THE frequent train accidents, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu makes it a point to ask his visitors for suggestions on the safety front. After asking Japan and South Korea railways to visit India to check the quality of tracks, the minister on Thursday made the same proposal to the French Ambassador. Prabhu apparently asked the ambassador to get French railway experts to visit India and assess safety preparedness, including the quality of tracks. Meanwhile, the department has decided to stop production of ICF coaches in three years.
On the Sidelines
HE MAY not have contested elections in a long time, but former Congress MP Sajjan Kumar continues to be popular with mediapersons and party functionaries due to his links in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. It, therefore, wasn’t surprising to see so many senior journalists at his annual lunch. His well-reasoned take on the poll-bound states indicated why he continues to be relevant in politics, although his party seems to have dumped him due to his alleged role in the 1984 riots.