At the Jaipur Literature Festival, controversial politician Amar Singh was sitting on the dais for a discussion on a six-volume tome on Indian foreign policy, brought out by an Indo-Australian institute. Foreign affairs is a new dimension to the multi-faceted Singh, who was expelled from the Samajwadi Party a while back. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid spoke on the occasion. Singh had helped Khurshid out with a private aircraft so that the minister could fly to Jaipur and return within a few hours. Singh himself flew down to Jaipur a day earlier for the release of the minister’s wife, Louise Khurshid’s, book. The curious friendship of two politicians who were once daggers drawn seems to reflect changing political affiliations in Uttar Pradesh.
Devyani Khobragade may be celebrated by some as a heroine in India, but the Ministry of External Affairs is reportedly unhappy with the diplomat for her obstreperous behaviour just before leaving the US. As soon as Khobragade got the G-1 visa, she was asked to fly out of New York, but she was most reluctant to do so. To the surprise of MEA officials, she did not want to take her daughters aged seven and four too with her. Although Khobragde was driven to the airport, she refused to board the flight. The Air-India flight to India was consequently delayed. Khobragade returned home from the airport hoping that her lawyer would be able to get her a temporary reprieve to stay on with her family. It was only after she was told sternly that she had no option but to leave America and that national interest outweighed her personal wishes that she finally left by a United Airways flight.
A fortnight before the midnight raid by Aam Aadmi Party Law Minister Somnath Bharti in Khirki Extension in Delhi, there was an ugly incident involving an African national at Delhi’s exclusive Gymkhana Club. On dependents’ night, two youths got into a spat with an African man at the bar when he announced his intention of taking home a drunk girl. The youths broke a bottle on the African’s head in the Gymkhana compound abutting the bar. A guest from one of the nearby cottages witnessed the scene, found the man bleeding and telephoned the police. The club management, when it learnt of the arrival of the police, rushed to the spot and the matter was hushed up. No case was registered, though the two culprits seem to have been blackballed.
Riding AAP tiger
The plight of the Congress in Delhi is akin to riding a tiger. It is now finding it difficult to dismount. During his dharna at Rail Bhavan, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal defied police orders, vilified Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and disrupted preparations for the Republic Day parade. Union ministers P Chidambaram and Manish Tewari have openly expressed reservations about the decision to support AAP. There is a blame game afoot in the Congress on who was behind the advice to the Delhi unit of the party to prop up AAP and to allow Kejriwal to form the government. Delhi MP Ajay Maken and AICC general secretary in-charge of Delhi Shakeel Ahmed are the main targets. The decision was originally taken in the belief that AAP would, as per its earlier pronouncements, turn down the offer of support. But AAP took the Congress by surprise by accepting its bait. To make the best of a messy situation, some in the party have been claiming that the Congress is providing a long rope to AAP so that it will get exposed to the general public, and believe it should be given another two to four months to show its true character. But AAP may have the last laugh and force the Congress into an early divorce, while adopting the posture of a martyr, willing to sacrifice power for its principles.
Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha Karia Munda was to lead a parliamentary delegation to New Zealand on a goodwill mission in place of Speaker Meira Kumar. But, at the last moment, Munda backed out and the trip was cancelled. The official reason for the cancellation was that Munda fell ill, but according to inside sources, the visit was called off as it was feared that it might look like junketeering at a time when probing questions are being asked about such trips by Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh legislators.