Before controversial Congress leader Arjun Singh passed away on March 4 last year,he had completed his memoirs and even handed over the manuscript to his publisher for final editing. But for more than a year,the publication of Singhs autobiography has been held up because of differences within his family over the deletion of certain controversial portions. Finally the family has given the go-ahead and the book will be released within the next two months.
A K Antony presented his report on the reasons for the Congresss poor showing in the recent Assembly elections to party president Sonia Gandhi. Judging from past history,it is unlikely that Antonys report will be discussed seriously by the Congress Working Committee,This is,in fact,the fourth time Antony has been asked to produce a report analysing the partys failures. In 1995,he wrote a report on the failure of the UP Congress; in 1999,he analysed the reasons for the defeat of the UPA in the general elections; in 2006,Antony was asked to prepare a report on declining ethics in the party. All his reports have simply been filed away and forgotten.
In the first half of the budget session,Vincent Pala,Minister of State for Water Resources and Minority Affairs,invited preacher Paul Dhinakaran to hold a parliamentarians prayer meet at the National Prayer Tower. It was attended by Christian MPs. Pala,while thanking Dhinakaran for the sermon,wrote that God had answered their prayers and provided a peaceful and successful conduct of the budget session. Whether the session was peaceful and successful is a debatable point,particularly as the session is not yet over.
On a lower plane
At the chief ministers conference earlier this month,some CMs,including Narendra Modi and J Jayalalithaa,took exception to sitting in the audience while officials,like the Cabinet secretary and the home secretary,sat on the dais with the Prime Minister and the Home Minister. The chief ministers wanted all such meetings to be held in future around a table and not in an auditorium since the present arrangement gives the impression that the central government representatives,even bureaucrats,belong to a higher plane.
Sonia in quandary
Yashwant Sinhas effusive praise of Pranab Mukherjee in Parliament and suggestion that he was about to move on to a higher office has put the Congress in a quandary. Sinha cleverly nullified Sushma Swarajs earlier negation of Mukherjees candidature. Sonia Gandhi,who does not want him as president,is caught in a bind with Mukherjee emerging as the favourite compromise candidate of both the UPA allies and the Opposition. The Congress will have to trot out a better excuse than claiming Mukherjees services are too valuable to be spared. Mukherjee will not take kindly to a second rejection as presidential candidate. Meanwhile,senior Congress ministers have their eye on the posts of leader of the House and Finance Minister,just in case Mukherjee does make it.
It is the second time that Vasundhara Raje Scindia has given a royal snub to her party high command. Rajnath Singh as party president ordered her to step down as leader of the Opposition in the Rajasthan Assembly. Venkiah Naidu was assigned to collect her resignation letter,but Scindia kept him dangling. Eventually she stayed on as Opposition leader,though to save face,the BJP claimed she had been re-appointed. This time Scindia was able to get potential rival Gulab Chand Kataria to back down on his proposed yatra. A furious Scindia returned from a trip abroad threatening mutiny and she demonstrated conclusively that she had the MLAs on her side. This is the third regional rebellion in recent months that party president Gadkari has been unable to scotch. He was equally unsuccessful in handling Y S Yeddyurappa and Arjun Munda over the RS elections.
Guilty through kinship
Sutanu Behuria,an IAS officer of the 1976 batch from Himachal Pradesh cadre,is a victim of the 2G scam even though he is unconnected with the case. He is one of the senior most officers in the government of India and some considered him in the running for the Cabinet secretarys post. But after serving as fertiliser secretary,Behuria was abruptly transferred to the backwater of National Disaster Management. Behuria finds himself untouchable in the government because he is the brother of Siddharth Behuria,former telecom secretary who is one of the accused in the telecom scam and was in jail till recently. Even Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal did not want the younger brother of the tainted IAS officer back in his home state.