Inside track: Missing TMC guests

TMC's chief's absence appears to have been a fallout of Mamata’s tie-up with Anna Hazare.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. (PTI)
Published on:March 9, 2014 1:51 am

Rajya Sabha MP K D Singh, reportedly a confidant of Mamata Banerjee and in-charge of the Trinamool Congress’s Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir units, hosted a large reception in Delhi last week to celebrate the wedding of his son Karan Deep Singh. Vice-President Hamid Ansari attended, as did many politicians, including Manish Tewari, Salman Khurshid, Kumari Selja, Rajeev Shukla, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Bhupinder Singh Hooda. What was surprising was the absence of senior TMC leaders such as Mamata herself and Mukul Roy, even though the latter was in the Capital on the day. The order to keep a distance from Singh, a multiple entrepreneur who heads the Alchemist group, including the Republic of Chicken chain of stores, seems to have come from the top. It appears to have been a fallout of Mamata’s tie-up with Anna Hazare. Singh has a chequered history. He was found flying with large amounts of cash to poll-bound Assam. There have been income tax raids on his group and investigations into some of Alchemist’s investments. He is just the sort of individual at whom Hazare’s anti-corruption movement would point the finger.

Strange bedfellows
NARENDRA Modi had an unusual visitor last month — former external affairs minister Natwar Singh, once a close aide of the Gandhis. Singh’s son Jagat is now a BJP MLA from Rajasthan. Talks between the two men, with very different backgrounds, were cordial. Modi confided that he felt that his campaign was going well, but the biggest concern was to guard against over-confidence.

Woman on lotus
WHILE a BJP victory would mean Narendra Modi as prime minister, the DMK’s A Raja, of the 2G scam fame, is convinced that Sushma Swaraj will be the next PM. Raja is an atheist who says he does not believe in superstition. But his wife is a believer and seems to have converted Raja. Raja’s wife has been regularly consulting astrologers in Tamil Nadu, who read kundalis (horoscopes) on palm leaves. Before Raja was arrested, the pandits had warned his spouse that they would be separated for 18 months because of a snake that would turn into handcuffs. The readings apparently also predicted the death of a close relative within days of his marriage. Stunned by such “unerringly accurate” forecasts, Raja sent his wife to enquire whether he would win in the parliamentary elections and who would be the next PM. The astrologer predicted that Raja would be successful and that the next PM would be a woman standing on a lotus. Raja is convinced that the lotus is the BJP and the woman is Swaraj, with whom he once worked in the Health Ministry. Raja rejects the alternative interpretation, that the woman could be Jayalalithaa, who could become the PM with BJP support.

Good manners pay
MANY are puzzled by the certificate given by DMK chief M Karunanidhi to Narendra Modi as being …continued »

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