MINISTER of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla has been chaperoning new Rajya Sabha members Sachin Tendulkar and Rekha,ensuring that they voted in the vice-presidential election and introducing them to various ministers and important functionaries. On Wednesday,he took them to Rashtrapati Bhawan for an audience with President Pranab Mukherjee. Tendulkar was accompanied by his wife Anjali. Some junior ministers and MPs have a grievance though. They were sitting in Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansals room when Shukla walked in with Tendulkar and Rekha. But he instantly retraced his steps when he found that the minister was not in the room,denying the MPs a chance to meet the actress and the cricketer.
Bridging the divide
TWO days back,Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP leader Mayawati,who are known to be bitter enemies,attended a lunch hosted by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Perhaps taking a cue from them,their key associates Satish Mishra of the BSP and Mulayams cousin Ram Gopal Yadav were seen engaged in a long chat in the Rajya Sabha on the opening day of the Monsoon Session on Wednesday. The question is whether they were responding to signals from their respective party chiefs in this regard.
WHILE the NCP had maintained that the Congress partys choice of P J Kurien as deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha was not an issue,the party raised it at the very first meeting of the newly constituted UPA coordination committee on Wednesday. NCP chief Sharad Pawars reservation against Kurien emanates from the latters conduct as chief whip of the Congress in the Lok Sabha in 1998 when Pawar was Leader of the Opposition. Kurien is said to have stepped on Pawars toes many a time during that period.
The extra votes
ALTHOUGH Jaswant Singh lost the vice-presidential election,the BJP was upbeat about the number of votes he got. Ahead of the polls,the NDA had calculated that Singh would bag 224 votes. But he ended up with 238 votes,despite the fact that four BJP MPs could not vote while four others had their votes rejected because of errors. This indicated that he got about 20 votes more than the NDAs numerical strength. Singh praised Sushma Swaraj and his two poll managers Shahnawaz Hussain and Rajiv Pratap Rudy for their efforts. Incidentally,when Hussain and Rudy went to brief Singh about the final tally in the evening,it was time for Hussain to break his Ramzan fast. So Singh arranged a feast for Hussain before sitting down to discuss the results.
SEEKING to downplay the relevance of the presidential reference over the 2G verdict,senior advocate Shanti Bhushan,appearing for the NGO,Centre for Public Interest Litigation,told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the questions asked by the government were so amateurish that even a law student could have dealt with them. These questions did not have to come up before a Constitution Bench, he said. His argument did not have the desired effect on the Bench though,with Chief Justice S H Kapadia shooting back: We are also law students. We also study law everyday. So its fine with us.