External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee was taken aback when a woman from Chandigarh in a slinky black dress accosted him at the Presidents tea party on Republic Day and announced that she would like to design his wardrobe. Mukherjee,who was sitting beside Sonia Gandhi and President Pratibha Patil,was at that moment responding to questions from journalists on foreign policy and the economy and he was stumped for a second. He finally responded with the terse suggestion,You better contact my wife.
No constitution club
Its name is Constitution Club and its membership consists of MPs and ex-MPs. It is therefore surprising to learn that the charge against this prestigious institution is that it is being run in an unconstitutional manner. The dispute cuts across party lines,with Rajiv Pratap Rudy,administrator for the last eight years,being opposed by another BJP man Vijay Goel. Some ex-MPs have gone to court alleging that elections were not held for eight years,accounts are not properly maintained,names are missing from the membership rolls and although the deputy speaker of the Lok Sabha was supposed to be the over-all in-charge under the rules,he has been ignored.
Sleep less,work more
Pranab Mukherjee has his hands full these days. Besides standing in for the prime minister he looks after both the external affairs and finance portfolios,heads some three dozen GoMs and the party manifesto and election committees and is in negotiations with allies. Asked by a journalist how he managed to cope with his heavy workload,Mukherjee explained that he only required four hours of sleep. He does not depend on the computer but believes in scrutinising all file notations that come to him. Nor does he rely only on the briefings of his officials.
Over to Gen Next
In 2004,Generation Next BJP leaders did not stand for the parliamentary poll. That was probably because the partys older generation did not want to share the limelight with them in the Lok Sabha. But this time the BJP leadership has issued an order to the contrary. All prominent members of Gen Next must contest the Lok Sabha elections to improve the BJPs prospects and boost the morale of the party rank and file. Most prominent members of Gen Next have already picked their prospective constituencies. Rajnath Singh is to stand from Ghaziabad,Ananth Kumar from Bangalore South and Sushma Swaraj from Bhopal. Arun Jaitley was keen on Surat,but he may end up contesting from New Delhi,since the BJP badly needs a vote puller in the Capital. The only one shying away from an electoral fight is Venkaiah Naidu,who has proffered a variety of excuses for staying out of the contest.
To improve his chances in the Ghaziabad constituency,Singh has left no stone unturned to drum up support. He granted the Rajya Sabha seat to Kusum Rai hoping to please Kalyan Singh,but did not reckon that the Lodh leader would quit the party anyway. He was anxious for a tie-up with Ajit Singh for the Jat vote. He has courted the JD-Us K.C. Tyagi for the Tyagi vote. After Bhairon Singh Shekhawat took umbrage over Singhs joke at his expense,the BJP president went post haste to mend fences. He feared that Sompal Singh,a friend of Shekhawat,could create problems for him in Ghaziabad.