Banishment advantage

Banishment advantage

The Supreme Court has permitted former Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah to enter the state after 23 months

Banishment advantage

The Supreme Court has permitted former Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah to enter the state after 23 months. After he was externed from Gujarat,Shah shifted base to Delhi and used the opportunity to develop contacts with several senior BJP leaders,including BJP President Nitin Gadkari. He sometime acted as a trouble shooter for Gadkari and was at the forefront in planning the party’s strategy for the UP assembly election—a different matter that it did not prove very fruitful for the party. During Parliament sessions,Shah was seen regularly at the office of Arun Jaitley,leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. Shah is back in Gujarat to micromanage Modi’s assembly campaign,but Gadkari is thinking of appointing Shah as a party general secretary.

Formidable encounter

Omita Paul,secretary to President Pranab Mukherjee,was Mistress of Ceremonies at the swearing-in of Justice Altamas Kabir as Chief Justice of India. After Justice Kabir had taken his oath of office,Paul urged the guests to move to the banquet hall for tea and snacks and not mill around the new Chief Justice. But one intrepid lady was determined to first congratulate Kabir and stood her ground. “Who are you?’’ she asked Paul dismissively. Paul,amazed at her gall,explained her designation and asked for the credentials of the other woman. “I am Indira Jaising,additional solicitor general,’’ was the reply.

Missing party members

Brajesh Mishra,Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s principal secretary and NSA,was a power to reckon with when Vajpayee was PM. But at Mishra’s cremation,Arun Jaitley,Vijay Goel and Ravi Shankar Prasad were among the few recognisable faces from the BJP. On the other hand,there was an impressive turnout from the Congress and the government, including,Sonia Gandhi,Vice President Hamid Ansari,NSA Shiv Shankar Menon and Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh. In his last years,Mishra had endeared himself to the Congress by supporting the Indo-US nuclear deal. A section of the BJP was convinced that while in office,Mishra,son of Indira Gandhi’s one-time strategist D P Mishra,was protective of the Congress’s first family.

Projecting himself


The reason that Narendra Modi was not allowed to speak on the last day of the BJP’s national conclave was ostensibly,shortage of time. However,Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan got to address the gathering on agriculture. Modi is aware that if he is to emerge as the party’s prime ministerial candidate,he will need the full backing of the party cadres since he cannot rely on the BJP leadership to support his claim. His public speeches have become increasingly provocative so that he can grab media attention. Modi’s supporters boast that the Chief Minister will break Madhavsinh Solanki’s record and win 150 out of the 182 assembly seats in the forthcoming assembly polls. Realistically,Modi needs at least 110 seats to prove his credentials. Modi may actually be helped by Keshubhai Patel’s breakaway group since it is expected to eat into the Congress’s vote share.

Not a party animal

Requests from Congress politicians to personally wish Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his 80th birthday last week were turned down. Apart from meeting his family and Sonia Gandhi and Hamid Ansari,it was business as usual for the very private Prime Minister. The media was hard pressed to get hold of any visual of the day’s festivities,such as the PM cutting a cake. Singh is not in favour of birthday parties,more so after the outcry over the expenses for the dinner to celebrate the third anniversary of the UPA. In response to an RTI question,it was revealed that the expense per guest was Rs 7,721. Even if one deducted the overheads for flowers and tents and other arrangements,the cost came to Rs 3,000 per plate.

Tripping up

The Ministry of External Affairs was against Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s six-day visit to Japan at a time when there were floods in the state and when it was still recovering from violent ethnic clashes. Gogoi,however,is believed to have got around the MEA’s objections by getting his trip cleared by the Prime Minister who represents Assam in the Rajya Sabha. Gogoi has made seven foreign trips in 16 months. Criticised by political parties for leaving the state at such a critical juncture,Gogoi claimed he went abroad to increase his knowledge. In view of the mounting criticism back home,Gogoi finally cut short his visit and returned to Assam to handle the havoc wrought by the floods.