Union minister Charan Das Mahant may have faced flak for leading the Archaeological Survey of India on a futile gold hunt in Unnao on the advice of Shobhan Sarkar,but his faith in the sadhu has not wavered. Ahead of elections in Chhattisgarh,Sarkar had predicted to the minister that the Congress would get 54 seats in the 90-member Assembly. While the party high command laughed it off,the minister took it seriously. Or so it seems from the fact that chief ministerial aspirant Mahant,confident of the partys return to power,focused his energy on candidates who were perceived to be loyal to Ajit Jogi. As the Congress assesses the Shobhan Sarkar effect,or the absence of it,on the results,the high command is not amused any longer.
AAM Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal seems to have become the toast of the town after his partys spectacular debut in the Delhi assembly polls. Indian Justice Party chief Udit Raj,who is also chairman of the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations,wants to invite him to address a rally at Jantar Mantar on Monday to demand,among other things,reservation for Dalits in the private sector. Udit Raj,who was critical of AAP for not respecting the mandate by refusing to form the government with Congresss support,said Friday that he tried to reach Kejriwal through texts and emails on Thursday but was yet to get any response. Given how the AAP weaned away Valmikis from the Congress and the BSP in the polls,Kejriwal obviously does not seem to be in a hurry to make new friends.
Before the Lok Sabha assembled on Friday,the Secretariat staff were seen demonstrating to MPs the functioning of the new voting consoles attached with the new Bosch audio system. An NCP MP sitting in the front row requested them to repeat the demonstration as his vote was not registered. He was found to be occupying the seat earmarked for RJD chief Lalu Prasad. As it was,the voting system of that seat had been de-activated in the wake of Lalus disqualification following his conviction in the fodder scam case. Shortly afterwards,the MPs learnt about the Supreme Court granting bail to Lalu. The voting system on his seat will remain deactivated though as he remains disqualified.
At a meeting with civil society activists organised by the Congress to seek suggestions for its manifesto to empower SCs/STs and OBCs,Ajit Jogi,chairman of the AICCs ST Department,was conspicuous by his absence. Grapevine has it that he had not been invited. His counterparts in the SC and OBC departments of the AICC,K Raju and K C Lenka were,however,present during the day-long session in which Rahul Gandhi made a 75-minute appearance. Jogis ommission came amid allegations of internal sabotage in Chhattisgarh elections,which was said to have cost 10 seats to the