As Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu was ending his valedictory remarks to conclude the Winter Session on Friday, he thanked everyone for the working of the House, and then specially thanked deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha P J Kurien, who heads the Upper House in Naidu’s absence. He called Kurien a “great source of support” who “takes most of it”. Just then Renuka Chowdhary remarked that Kurien should be given a Padma award for this. Pat came Naidu’s reply: even a Padma will be “too small”.
Surprise Entry, Exit
Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s aide Alankar Sawai made a surprise appearance at the Press Club of India where activist-turned-MLA from Gujarat Jignesh Mevani was addressing the media on Friday afternoon. And he made a hasty retreat when reporters spotted him. Mevani was backed by the Congress when he contested as an Independent in Gujarat Assembly polls, but the Congress ensured that its leaders, especially Rahul, do not share the dais with him during campaigning. The presence of Sawai at Mevani’s press conference venue triggered speculation about a tacit understanding. Congress leaders said Sawai should not have gone there, arguing that it was an avoidable controversy.
Angry In The Hills
After days of discussions and deliberations, the Congress on Friday finally announced Mukesh Agnihotri as the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader in Himachal Pradesh. But his selection came not without some drama. The buzz in the party is that state Congress chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu wanted to become the CLP leader but that former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who was at loggerheads with Sukhu, opposed the move. Party leaders said Singh even threatened to resign as MLA if Sukhu is elected the CLP leader. Eighteen MLAs owing allegiance to Singh then took a stand that he should be made the CLP leader. The party high command was not in favour of that, and it was finally decided that a person acceptable to Singh would be made the CLP leader. And in came Agnihotri.