Rahul Gandhi was the centre of attraction at the Lok Sabhas special sitting on Sunday. He had entered the House after Pranab Mukherjee had started his speech and,except during his mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhis speech,the Amethi MP was busy constantly chatting with his young party colleagues,including Jyotiraditya Scindia,Sandeep Dikshit and Deepender Singh Hooda. Occasionally,Rahul even engaged Shashi Tharoor,who was sitting right behind him,in the discussion. Veterans in the House silently watched them as the Young Turks,all smiles and grins,appeared to be discussing some more important matter than the one being discussed in the House to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Parliaments first sitting. At 1 p.m.,as Sonia left the House,Rahul also went out with her. She returned later and was seen raptly hearing the speeches and even thumping the desk in appreciation of Leader of Opposition Sushma Swarajs speech,but Rahul was nowhere to be seen. In the first three years of his tenure in the current Lok Sabha,Rahuls performance reads: one Special Mention and one Question. Incidentally,it was also Sonias maiden intervention in the current Lok Sabha.
Every three years,whenever the Centre rejigs its team of law officers,there is lobbying by the incumbents to stay on as the law officers while new aspirants make all efforts to get the coveted jobs. Not this time though. At least two Additional Solicitors General Vivek Tankha and Mohan Prasaran have already informed the Law Ministry about their intention not to continue beyond their current term. Meanwhile,the grapevine has it that son of a former CJI and partner of a law firm is in the fray for an ASG job.
Filling Pranab shoes
While the Congress high command is yet to make up its mind on Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjees candidature in the July presidential election,political circles are already abuzz with speculation about the next Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha. While the Congress is unlikely to accept any of the alliance partners as Leader of the House notwithstanding how the NCP camp is optimistic about Sharad Pawar given his political stature and acumen there are not many contenders in the ruling camp. In the Lok Sabha,Home Minister P Chidambaram could fit the bill but detractors say he has become a repeated target of the Opposition. The rest of the pack in the ruling camp are seen as not having either the stature,experience or acumen to get into Mukherjees shoes,although Dalit leaders like Sushilkumar Shinde may emerge as a fallback option.
The race for the top post of joint director at the Delhi Zonal Unit of the Enforcement Directorate seems to have narrowed down as 1991 batch IRS officer D K Gupta has emerged as the favourite. Who gets this post may not usually be of consequence,except that the Delhi unit of ED is presently handling high-profile money laundering and FEMA cases like the 2G spectrum allocation,Comonwealth Games and Tatra-BEML. Gupta had earlier served as director investigation with the CBDT and had a stint with the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO). He had a high-profile predecessor in Prabhakant,another 1991 batch IRS,who occupied this office for an unusually long tenure of seven years. As Delhi unit head,his access went well beyond his immediate superiors to highly-placed officials in North Block. Will Gupta tread differently?
The Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party governments decision to junk the previous state governments plan to develop a greenfield international airport at Jewar will irk Mayawati no end but it is likely to be of great solace to Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh. In fact,he is pushing for another location altogether his ministry is learnt to have written to Akhilesh Yadav asking the state to provide land for expansion of a small airstrip at Partapur on the outskirts of Meerut. Incidentally,on Saturday,a businessmen died after he was hit by the wing of a small aircraft on that very airstrip. This only serves to strengthen Singhs case.
Kissa kursi ka
While Mayawatis decision to quit the state legislature and enter the Upper House has meant more active participation on part of her MPs in order to retain a place in her good books,it has also meant some interesting changes are affected in BSPs parliamentary party office on the third floor of Parliament. Now,there is only one chair with a white towel on it for presiding over party meetings. Earlier this office had two high chairs one each for party leaders in Lok Sabha (Dara Singh Chauhan) and Rajya Sabha (Satish Mishra). But with Mayawati now in Delhi,the two join the ranks of other MPs,sharing space with them.