After the exilehttps://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/after-the-exile/

After the exile

There is considerable speculation about Digvijaya Singh’s next political move since in 2013,his 10-year,self-imposed “exile”,when he gave up electoral politics

After the exile

There is considerable speculation about Digvijaya Singh’s next political move since in 2013,his 10-year,self-imposed “exile”,when he gave up electoral politics after being defeated in the 2003 elections,is set to end. Singh reportedly is having second thoughts about contesting from his old parliamentary seat of Rajgarh. Sitting MP Narayan Singh is an OBC and Singh fears that if he replaces him as the Congress candidate,OBC voters might take offence. In fact,Singh is apprehensive that the BJP will make it a prestige issue to ensure his defeat from the region which was once part of his family’s fiefdom. Recently,Singh has been making exploratory trips to the neighbouring Sagar constituency. Indore is another option. But some suspect that Singh may eventually opt out of the electoral fray altogether on the pretext that his son Jaivardhan,an MBA from Columbia University,will be standing from the family seat either for the Assembly or parliamentary elections.

Sitting on a file

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sat on the file for the appointment of the next foreign secretary for almost a week. In the meantime,the appointments of several other Government of India secretaries,including power,I&B and personnel,were cleared. Singh was rooting for India’s ambassador to China S Jaishankar,but he was overruled by 10 Janpath,which backed Sujatha Singh,currently Ambassador to Germany,who was the senior-most of the IFS officers in the running for the post. Singh is the daughter of former IB director T V Rajeswar. Sudhir Vyas,another contender,was reportedly the choice of NSA Shiv Shankar Menon. Jaishankar,son of the late strategic affairs guru K Subrahmanyam,is likely to be appointed ambassador to the US when Nirupama Rao retires. Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai is tipped to be the next high commissioner to the UK.

Nothing confidential

The National Archives serves very little purpose because the PMO and Ministry of External Affairs do not send their old documents to the archives. These two ministries keep their own records which are not open to public scrutiny. Citizens probably get more information from the government through the RTI than from the National Archives,which,despite its impressive facade,is a repository of very little historical data. A newspaper report last week suggesting that documents with vital information about the declaration of the Emergency in 1975,which were said to be missing,had been located in the National Archives was misleading. The proclamation by then President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and the near identical draft sent to him by Indira Gandhi have always been part of the Archives’ records and are also included in the Shah Commission report. What the National Archives files do not provide are the detailed minutes of the crucial Cabinet meetings during the Emergency. It does not include any Intelligence Bureau inputs on the basis of which Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency. In fact,there are almost no Cabinet meeting minutes,letters to Indira Gandhi or confidential government documents of the situation in the country for the 21 months of the Emergency. The six slim files for the period June 1975 to March 1977 contain such inconsequential information as triplicate copies of then home minister Brahmananda Reddy’s speech to Parliament introducing Emergency provisions. There is nothing confidential about this and it is available from Parliament’s archives.

Walk in park

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American Secretary of State John Kerry has visited New Delhi many times but he complained to the organisers of his trips that all he ever gets to see is the American Embassy and Hyderabad House,where the official banquets are held. Kerry wanted to see some of the sights of Delhi. It was arranged for him to take a walk in Delhi’s Lodhi Garden,though the muggy weather was a bit off-putting. However,his security detail nixed a trip to the nearby Khan Market shopping complex.

Intelligence inputs

Under pressure from the government,the CBI did not name IB Special Director Rajinder Kumar as an accused in its first chargesheet in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case. Apart from IB director Asif Ibrahim,several former IB chiefs have written to the Prime Minister,questioning the propriety of the CBI in interrogating Rajinder Kumar. E S L Narasimhan,M K Narayanan and Shyamal Dutta,among others,are believed to have expressed fears that it would demoralise the IB and hamper its operational capabilities in the future. Former special director of the CBI D R Karthikeyan has also written a letter on the same issue.