The invitation card for DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi’s birthday celebrations on June 3 — with the Kalaignar’s picture inside a diamond-shaped orb — is not just an eye-catching item. The guest list printed on the card has virtually the who’s who of Opposition leaders. It names Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, RJD chief Lalu Prasad, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, CPM’s Sitaram Yechury, JD(U)’s Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav, CPI MP D Raja and Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien under the header “Greetings”.
Days after leaders of 18 Opposition parties came together to decide on the strategy for the presidential elections, the Congress is planning a similar meeting for a different cause. This time, it will be held in Andhra Pradesh over the special category status promised to the state by the UPA government at the time of its bifurcation. The joint rally, to be held in Bhimavaram on June 4, is likely to be attended by several Opposition leaders including Congress’s Rahul Gandhi and SP’s Akhilesh Yadav. The conclave on a purely state-specific issue indicates the Opposition’s willingness to stand with each other in its fight against the BJP. The Congress is trying hard to win back ground in Andhra —- the party drew a blank in Assembly as well as Lok Sabha elections and was at the receiving end of people’s anger over bifurcation.
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes is set to get a BJP man as its chairman. The PMO is tipped to have chosen former Minister of State for HRD Ram Shankar Katheria for the post, which has been lying vacant for almost seven months since the expiry of the term of P L Punia. While candidates were shortlisted a while ago, the government was said to be waiting for the UP elections to get over. Both Katheria and Punia are from UP.