The Congress party recently snubbed Union minister Jairam Ramesh for his praise of the AAP forcing him to make a U-turn the next day. It is not often that a close aide of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi gets publicly rapped by the party. Congress sources point to past developments to justify the party’s strong reaction. When the government had been forced to set up a joint committee on Lokpal Bill in 2011, civil society members had proposed Ramesh’s name on the committee. They had, however, backtracked after the government side contended that they would then also nominate civil society’s representatives on the committee.
Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) chief Babulal Marandi has taken it upon himself to engineer a “non-BJP, non-Congress” coalition ahead of the Lok Sabha election. He first met Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee who recently sent Mukul Roy to Ranchi to carry forward talks with the JVM (P) chief. Marandi then met Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The former Jharkhand chief minister now intends to reach out to Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik and AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal. Depending on the success of his efforts to forge what is being dubbed as the “eastern front”, Marandi would try to rope in others. The catch, however, is that the former chief minister wants it to be a “goodwill coalition” in which the constituents would not field candidates in one another’s turf, at least, not in Jharkhand where the prospective allies could help the JVM (P)’s stock among Biharis and Bengalis, among others.
Arun Yadav’s appointment as Madhya Pradesh Congress chief came as a surprise to many in the party. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had dropped the young Khandwa MP from the Union Council of Ministers in July 2011 on account of non-performance. Yadav had been subsequently appointed AICC secretary but failed to make any mark on the organisational front either. In the recent Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress could win only one out of eight Assembly seats that fall in his parliamentary constituency. The buzz in the Congress circles is that Yadav has benefited from the fact that he is the son of the late Subhash Yadav who had been an arch rival of former chief minister Digvijaya Singh in state politics. Yadav replaced Singh’s protege Kantilal Bhuria.
Amid reports about President Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit Mukherjee having expressed a wish to contest again from Jangipur Lok Sabha seat, Trinamool leader and Twitter regular Derek O’ Brien hinted that his party may not extend the courtesy it had extended when he had contested a bypoll from the constituency in 2012. “Will support @AITCofficial candidates only,” O’Brien tweeted in reply to a question on whether they would support Abhijit a second time.
Nepal’s Home and Foreign Affairs minister Madhav Ghimire arrives in Delhi on an official visit on Tuesday. But many in Kathmandu have been wondering what the point of the visit is. Ghimire is a part of an interim caretaker government which was meant to hold the elections. Polls are now done, its mandate is all but over and it is just waiting for an elected government to take office soon. In this backdrop, observers in Nepal are wondering what can be achieved with a lame duck government, but Ghimire was leant to be keen to visit and the Indian government, happy with his role in overseeing elections, obliged.