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The BJP may have lost out on gestures after the death of Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, but the party is seemingly trying to make up in other ways. Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla, who recently visited Mehbooba Mufti to offer her condolences during an official trip to the state, extended an invitation to Mufti’s granddaughter Saheba, who is doing Phd on minorities in Harvard. Heptulla offered all relevant material from her ministry for Saheba’s thesis.
As the buzz about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s imminent Cabinet reshuffle gets stronger, sources say Minister for Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (UD-HUPA), Venkaiah Naidu, has set his heart on the Rural Development portfolio. Naidu was heading the Rural Development Ministry in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government when the Pradhan Mantri Sadak Yojana was launched. With most urban missions — ranging from smart cities, Housing for All and AMRUT having been rolled out last year, much of the work now is to be done by the states, leaving little for the Centre to do. If Naidu gets his former ministry, Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers Ananth Kumar could be his successor at the UD-HUPA Ministry, sources say.
Superstar Rajinikanth, who was in the list of probables for the prestigious Padma awards last year but missed it at the last minute, seems to have made it to the list this year. The long list of probables include actors Priyanka Chopra and Anupam Kher, folk singer Malini Awasthi, former CAG Vinod Rai, politician Jaya Jaitley and adman Piyush Pandey. With the likes of Ramdev having rejected the award last year, officials are working hard to ensure the government does not face any such embarrassment this time around.
The Congress party’s sudden move to replace the head of its women’s wing in Assembly poll-bound Tamil Nadu has surprised many. The move to replace S Vijayadharani with Jhansirani M is seen as a signal by the party high command that it will not tolerate infighting. Vijayadharani, made the head of Mahila Congress in August last year, had been at loggerheads with state Congress chief E V K S Elangovan — some time back she had accused Elangovan of verbally harassing her by using filthy, abusive and defamatory language. She had since been campaigning for Elangovan’s removal.
Ever wondered why, and when, the once irrepressible Uma Bharti got into a silent mode? The buzz is that Bharti had told senior BJP leaders that she was interested in working for Ganga rejuvenation. It so happened that when she was having breakfast at a senior party leader’s residence, she was told that Prime Minister Modi had assigned her the Water Resources, River Water and Ganga Rejuvenation portfolio. Ever since, the surge of emotion that she felt has apparently led to her being quiet and away from the public discourse.