Didi’s Deal

Even as she withdrew the support of her party to the UPA government,West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is keen on one act of generosity towards the Congress

Written by Express News Service | Published:September 20, 2012 3:36 am

Even as she withdrew the support of her party to the UPA government,West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is keen on one act of generosity towards the Congress: she does not plan to field a candidate from the Jangipur Lok Sabha constituency where a byelection is being held following the elevation of its MP Pranab Mukherjee as the President of India. Mukherjee’s son Abhijeet Mukherjee is the Congress candidate from the constituency and Mamata has decided not to contest the election as a mark of respect to “Pranab da”. But this is a situation as it stands on Wednesday. Considering her unpredictable nature,Trinamool insiders say they would not be surprised if Mamata changes her mind in the coming days.

Paternal Support

SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav was caught in two minds on Wednesday. He is slated to be in Lucknow on Thursday to ensure the success of the Opposition-led Bharat Bandh which his party is supporting. The party’s state unit is led by Mulayam’s son Akhilesh Singh Yadav. Being the CM — and since he is no Mamata Banerjee — Akhilesh cannot be seen to be leading an agitation against the central government himself. So the job has fallen on Mulayam’s shoulders. At the same time,Mulayam does not want to be found missing from Delhi,in case the Congress needs him for consultations ahead of the Friday deadline for the pullout of Banerjee from the UPA government.

Diplomatic intervention

THE six-month extension to India’s High Commissioner in Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal has come despite Foreign Minister S M Krishna’s stated policy of not extending tenures of heads of missions abroad. Krishna was not too keen in this case even though there were directions from the PMO. The grapevine has it that PM Manmohan Singh had to intervene himself and spoke to Krishna in Tehran,where the two had gone for the NAM Summit,on the matter. While the understanding in official circles is that this extension is linked to a possible PM visit to Islamabad,the justification on record is that Sabharwal is needed until the upcoming elections in Pakistan.

Second Fiddle

WHILE Defence Minister A K Antony is the designated number two in the Cabinet,he will have to defer to Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar in the newly constituted GoM on the land acquisition Bill. Pawar has been named as the head of the GoM of which Antony is only a member. Such an anomaly has happened for the first time. Till Pranab Mukherjee’s elevation as President upset the equations in the Cabinet,it was always the seniormost minister in the GoM who used to head it.

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