Even as questions remain over who invited businessman Vijay Mallya to a London book launch co-hosted by the Indian High Commission, it now emerges that Mallya had thrown a “small dinner” the previous evening. Those present at the dinner included Suhel Seth, author of the book, and hotelier Sanjay Narang. Seth told The Indian Express that he attended the dinner, adding that he did not invite Mallya to the book launch. Incidentally, Mallya tweeted on Sunday that he did not gatecrash the event. “@IndianExpress Thank You. I am not a gate crasher and would never be one,” he tweeted.
The Panama Papers controversy has made the government press the pause button on signing up any celebrity as brand ambassador for its Incredible India campaign. A few months ago, the Tourism Ministry was close to signing Amitabh Bachchan for the role, but the decision was put on hold when the actor’s name figured on the list of those holding offshore companies and accounts. The PMO had suggested Bachchan’s name, since he had served as brand ambassador of Gujarat Tourism when Modi was Chief Minister. These days, Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma is often heard saying, “Our PM is the best brand ambassador for Incredible India, we don’t need anyone else.”
After the Rajya Sabha election debacle in Haryana on June 11, many leading lights of the state Congress legislature party were neither seen nor heard. Coincidentally, most of them had decided — well in advance — on going abroad for a family vacation. The heat in north India was getting unbearable anyway. It was another matter that the Haryana episode generated much political heat. CLP leader Kiran Chaudhary left on voting day, Randeep Surjewala and Kuldeep Bishnoi a day later. B S Hooda did not go anywhere, and state Congress chief Ashok Tanwar, who is not an MLA, spent the days after the election meeting legal eagles, briefing the high command and explaining the case to the EC.
The NDA government recently appointed BJP leader and serving Additional Solicitor General of India Satya Pal Jain as a part-time member of the Law Commission of India. A former MP, Jain was denied a party ticket from Chandigarh in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. As a sop, he was appointed ASG. But his latest appointment has become the talking point in the Union Law Ministry with many wondering why he was brought in. Jain was BJP stalwart L K Advani’s lawyer before the Liberhan Commission, which probed the Babri Masjid demolition.
As preparations begin for the high-stakes Uttar Pradesh and Punjab elections, the BJP headquarters has become a hub of strategy meetings again. Party chief Amit Shah, who used to hold some of his meetings at his residence, is now spending almost the entire day in his office at 11 Ashoka Road. He comes around 10 am and stays till afternoon. During the day, he holds meetings with general secretaries, secretaries and others involved in poll preparations.