September 3, 2012 1:51:26 am
While India may succeeded in keeping its bilateral engagements with Iran low-key on substantive issues,Tehran got the better of it on handling the optics of Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs visit for the NAM Summit. Lest India develop cold feet,Iran had quite a few surprises in store. It never informed India about a Presidential dinner banquet for the PM,but held one. Singhs pictures with Irans leaders were splashed across the Iranian press. The Indian PM was also made to sit along with a select few on the dais without prior notice at the Summit. While the Indian side conceded that it was an honour,it made for a great photo op for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,to be seated between new Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on one side and the Prime Minister of the worlds largest democracy on the other. The Iranians also changed the order of speakers without telling India,and so Manmohan Singh got to speak at a time when he had scheduled a few bilateral meetings. Some of these meetings had to be abruptly rescheduled while others had to be cancelled.
Missing the Mark
Trust South Block to be tardy. And at times,one pays for it. Mohammed Morsi was not Egypts President when External Affairs Minister S M Krishna visited Egypt in March. He was not exactly the frontrunner then,but was surely in the fray. Krishna met him and invited him to visit India. Morsi was more than responsive,he expressed keenness and hoped the Indian government would follow it up. But unfortunately,no one did and in due course,Morsi became President. And guess where he made his first visit? China. And only after that did he come for a few hours to the Tehran NAM Summit. Indian officials found themselves running against time for a brief pull aside between the Prime Minister and Morsi,who till a few months back was eagerly awaiting an invite from India that never came.
While most government functionaries lobby to get a bigger bungalow in Lutyenss Delhi,the new Sports Secretary is left without an accommodation because she prefers a smaller house. It has been almost five months since Nita Chowdhury took charge as Secretary,Sports and Youth Affairs,but she is yet to get a house of her choice. She was offered one of the new bungalows that have come up in Moti Bagh,but being a single woman she is learnt to have indicated that she would be happier if given a smaller house nearer to her office in Shastri Bhawan. Repeated reminders to the Urban Development Ministry and personal intervention of Sports Minister Ajay Maken have been unsuccessful. The Urban Development Ministry,in the meanwhile,has been making use of these increased interactions with the Ministry of Sports to push for the creation of some sports and youth infrastructure in Chhindwara,Minister Kamal Naths constituency.
As he prepares to take a larger role in the organisational matters,Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi has started identifying a new team for himself. Close aides of Rahul are said to be looking at leaders across various states to induct them in the team that will assist the Congress scion and implement his plans. The move has caused considerable anticipation as well as anxiety amongst the hopefuls in the party. Meanwhile,the party MPs from Uttar Pradesh are also an anxious lot these days. With reports coming in about strong anti-incumbency against Congress MPs,the party is likely to drop at least half of its MPs from the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
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