The Big Bash
Having kept a low profile since the UPA went out of office in 2014, senior Congress leader and former Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde is set to celebrate his 75th birthday in style next month. A huge function is being organised in his hometown, Solapur, which he represented in Lok Sabha thrice. Sources said President Pranab Mukherjee has confirmed his presence, as have several top Congress leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Of Beef and Bolt
Asked to comment on BJP MP Udit Raj’s statement on Usain Bolt’s beef-eating habits during a press conference on Monday, Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale said the MP is his friend. Pausing mid-sentence, Athawale asked in Marathi ‘kaay naav aahey taancha (What’s his name)?’ When someone told him the Jamaican sprinter’s name, he called Bolt “a famous player” who has won many awards. Explaining how greatness can be achieved irrespective of eating habits, Athawale continued in a lighter vein that it’s not that one gets awards and rewards only by eating beef. “I don’t eat beef but I have become a minister,” the Dalit leader said.
As the Congress rolls out its campaign blitz in Uttar Pradesh, rumblings in the party are also coming out in the open. Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Pradeep Mathur is believed to be upset over posters being put up by some Brahmin leaders in his constituency, triggering speculation that Mathur could be replaced. A three-time MLA from Mathura, Mathur has raised the issue with party general secretary in-charge of the state, Ghulam Nabi Azad. Insiders say Mathur suspects election strategist Prashant Kishor wants to deny him a ticket and field a Brahmin candidate from the temple town of Mathura.