Trust Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to be matter-of-fact to a fault. He tends to address members of the BJP shouting brigade as Honourable shouting members. He was heard the other day requesting the honourable shouting members to please stop shouting and get back to their seats. Unfortunately,this rather flattering appeal failed to yield the desired result.
Congress members complain that even Ajay Sancheti walks in to the well in the Rajya Sabha and demands the Prime Ministers resignation. Its ironical,indeed,because Sancheti himself is embroiled in the controversy surrounding coal block allocations. Though Sancheti,a close confidant of BJP chief Nitin Gadkari,privately claims that he hasnt been favoured,Congress members totally dismiss his defence. They are waiting for the CBI to reveal the truth whether the allocation to the company associated with Sancheti was genuine or it is a perfect case of the pot calling the kettle black.
Ticket to Ride
While President Pranab Mukherjees son Abhijit has thrown his hat in the ring for a party ticket to contest the Jangipur Lok Sabha bypoll likely in November,the Congress leadership is yet to take a call on it. Party leaders say if his father,who vacated the Jangipur seat after his elevation to the august office,gives a green signal to Abhijit,the party will have no problem in allotting a ticket to the Nalhati MLA who had made his political debut shortly before the Assembly election last year. Former President Pratibha Patils son Rajendra Shekhawat had to be given a party ticket in the last Maharashtra Assembly election despite reservations of the party leadership which later denied him a ministerial berth. After winning the West Bengal Assembly polls last year,Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was keen to induct Abhijit in the state cabinet,but Mukherjee had curtailed the move then. Given this precedent,the Congress leadership has decided to wait and watch,and let the President act first.
Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid,former Union minister Saifuddin Soz and National Committee on Minorities chairman Wajahat Habibullah were all present on the occasion,but for a change they let the academicians and activists do the honours. The event was the release of a report on the implementation of Sachar Committee recommendations. The report had been prepared by the NGO,Centre for Equity Studies,that is run by Harsh Mander,a former member of the National Advisory Council headed by Sonia Gandhi. It contained criticism of the Centre for failing to fully implement the recommendations. Mander,it is learnt,was told a couple of days ago that though he could use the premises of the NCM for the release function,it was unlikely that any government functionary would agree to officially release the report. Mander ensured that the dignitaries attended the function,though the report was released by NAC members N C Saxena and Farah Naqvi,Zoya Hasan of JNU and historian Mridula Mukherjee.
For all his clarity in thought and speech,Shashi Tharoor made an embarrassing mistake last week when he wrongly identified a fellow Congress MP. In a message on the micro-blogging website Twitter,Tharoor described Jesudasu Seelam,a Rajya Sabha MP from Andhra Pradesh,as a DMK MP. Somebody might have pointed out the error to him,for he corrected the tweet to read My colleague MP JD Seelam later.