Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrashekhar is said to be hurt and upset. He was the man widely credited for putting the Commonwealth Games back on track after the Organising Committee missed all deadlines. But the V K Shunglu committee,which has started a comprehensive probe into the management of the Games,is making little distinction as of now. The committee is learnt to have asked the Cabinet Secretary to provide details of what measures his office had taken from the beginning to ensure smooth and successful Games.
Sanjay not in key Cong team
He may have earned the Nehru-Gandhi familys forgiveness to return to the Congress and later even got a party ticket to enter the Lok Sabha from Sultanpur,but Sanjay Singh does not seem to have regained the trust of his party leadership yet. His name was missing from the list of AICC delegates from Uttar Pradesh. Congress leaders,however,contend that the scion of the erstwhile royal family of Amethi could not be made a delegate as he is not a primary member of the party. They claim that Singh had missed the last date for submitting the membership form and,therefore,it was rejected. Congress leaders claim making a non-member an AICC delegate could have caused resentment in the partys rank and file in Uttar Pradesh.
Fixing the Jethmalani problem
Ram Jethmalani and the BJP share an interesting equation. He hit out at the party for running down the Kashmir interlocutors last week. He was clearly agitated after the BJP consistently attacked Dileep Padgaonkar,with whom he shares a warm and friendly relationship. Padgaonkar is a member of Jethmalanis Kashmir committee. But the public spat with the BJP did not prevent the eminent lawyer from appearing for BJP leader Kirit Somayya before the Election Commission in Maharasthra Chief Minister Ashok Chavans paid news case. The BJP,on the other hand,is also in no mood to take any action against the outspoken lawyer. Many of the leaders jokingly said given Jethmalanis penchant to kick up controversies,the party should designate a spokesperson to counter him.
Moilys notable solution
The Union Law Minister has the authority to appoint notaries in states. With all court and legal documents requiring attestation by a notary,the business of the notaries is booming. This explains the huge number of requests,including letters and visits from Union and State ministers and leaders,that every Law Minister has to handle. While during his tenure as law minister,Hans Raj Bhardwaj would personally handle these requests,M Veerappa Moily has outsourced this to respective law officers who are not complaining either with the added clout.
Gill still feeling CWG blues
Under scrutiny for his departments handling of the Commonwealth Games,Sports Minister MS Gill was seen convincing an unusual audience last week with his side of the story and in his own typical style. They were a bunch of senior Pakistani parliamentarians seated around him during a dinner at the Pakistan High Commission. He managed to grab the attention of his rapt audience and was cynosure of all Pakistani eyes despite the presence of other prominent faces such as Congress MPs Mohammed Azharuddin,Rajiv Shukla and Rashid Alvi. Amar Singh,too,showed up.
Baby state CM steals thunder Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh managed to smuggle his own power-point presentation on procurement of paddy and public distribution system in the state as representatives of India,Pakistan,Bangladesh,Sri Lanka and Maldives gathered at Raipur for the fourth conference of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association India and Asia regions. Singhs PR effort had the desired effect. Pakistan Senate Deputy Chairman Mir Jan Muhammad Khan Jamali told him afterwards that he could state from his own experience that ones return to power is a testimony of ones good performance. Andhra Assembly Speaker N Kiran Kumar Reddy said that Singh had performed rather well as the Chief Minister of the baby state. But thankfully for Reddy,no Telangana Rashtra Samithi leader was around. Otherwise,he would have found himself at the receiving end with a prompt request to help deliver another baby state and then see how well it is looked after.
Off 24×7 media duty
A 24-hour media monitoring system that was put in place just before the Ayodhya verdict last month has been quietly wound up by the Press Information Bureau. PIB officials,who were hassled at the thought of manning the control room 24×7,are breathing easy as they dont have to burn the midnight oil any longer. The I&B ministry is yet to issue a formal order,but the PIB which is facing staff shortage is praying hard that the ministry does not have any second thoughts.
Outsiders not allowed
High-profile visitors to the Agriculture Ministry found themselves knocking hard on toilet doors,which were recently fitted with smart card reading machines to allow only bona fide officials from the Ministry to access the conveniences. First it was the turn of members of the US negotiating team visiting the country ahead of Barack Obamas trip. It is learnt the US delegates had to knock quite a few doors before they were helped by employees from the Ministry. Even BCCI officials,who pay regular visits to ICC boss Sharad Pawar at Krishi Bhavan,found themselves struggling. Ratnakar Shetty,Chief Administration Officer of the BCCI,was the last high-profile person seen knocking hard on the doors before being rescued by one of Pawars attendants.
Rajnath in Nitishs good books
Nitish Kumar has often been accused of preventing some BJP leaders with a controversial past from campaigning in Bihar. He is not known to have had a particular preference for any BJP leader either. This being the case,former BJP chief Rajnath Singh who was campaigning in Bihar last week got a pleasant surprise when his aides got a call from Kumars office to extend his stay by a day and attend couple of rallies in some JD(U) constituencies. Singh who was to campaign in Bihar for four days gladly accepted and canvassed for Kumars candidates. The excruciating campaign schedule,however,was tiring for Singh who is now recovering from dengue. He is said to have decided to take a weeks break before returning to Bihar for campaigning.
Just a phone call away
HRD Minister Kapil Sibal pulled off a regular politicians stunt to assure the eighth Pan IIT conference last week that he was a very accessible minister. When an IIT alumnus asked him how they could collaborate with the HRD Ministry or offer him suggestions,Sibal read out his mobile number before a crowd of thousands who were seen hurriedly taking it down. He even invited them to call or SMS him any time be it midnight or morning. The candour,obviously,won the minister a huge applause. Dr Richard Levin President of Yale University who was also on the dais and a participant in the session could not let this stunt just pass. He spoke aloud How many of you think the minister will not change his phone number in a week?
Losing out on home turf
With a resurgent Congress in UP making the Samajwadi Party increasingly insecure,it seems the latter has also lowered its own bar. SP Chief Mulayam Singh is placing his bets on his partys revival in Bihar in the current Assembly elections. Having fielded candidates in 224 of the 243 constituencies in Bihar,Singh is hoping that at least 100 candidates would be able to bag Zilla Parishad memberships in the future. Even as Mulayam pins his Bihar hopes on Zilla Parishad memberships,back in his home turf of Uttar Pradesh there has been a rather dismal show. So much so that the son of Shivpal Yadav Mulayams brother and Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly lost the Zilla Parishad membership from Jaswantnagar in Etawah despite the fact that Mulayam himself represented the block several times in the state Assembly.
Who voted against India?
While India may have come back as a non-permanent member of the UNSC with a thumping majority and 187 votes in its favour,South Block is now trying to zero in on the three who voted against the country in the secret ballot. Canada,it is widely believed,is one of the three as India could not commit a reciprocal arrangement with them. The second country is most likely Swaziland,whose representative apparently made a technical error in filling the ballot. Speculation is rife about the third nation that chose to vote against India.
A large section of MEA officials are convinced it is Egypt which has,of late,made it a point not to go along with India in multilateral forums. A smaller section continues to doubt that it could be either Iran or Pakistan even though they had promised to support India through bilateral channels. This theory has been turned down by Indian officials in New York who vouch that they have quiet confirmation on both these countries voting in Indias favour.
Antony back in action
Always known to be a very active person,Defence Minister AK Antony has been going slow for the past few days. The problem is not political but medical as the minister is suffering from sciatica pain that affects the back. Known to be a fitness enthusiast,who claims to have maintained the same weight for the past 30 years,Antony has had to rely on ayurvedic treatment to get back to his old self. He has been receiving massages from Keralas renowned ayurveda specialists. He apparently preferred them over the well-equipped physiotherapy set-up in Armed Forces R&R hospital.
Even Gods are not smiling on Chavan
Not just the Congress high command,even the Gods dont seem to be happy with Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. Embroiled in a messy housing scam,Chavan made a quick trip to Tirupati on Thursday to seek Lord Venkateshwaras blessings on his 52nd birthday. But just a day later,he was forced to admit irregularities in a housing society in which three of his close relatives owned flats. And the next day,summoned by the high command to Delhi,Chavan had to make an offer to resign.