To counter the government’s charges on the AgustaWestland deal, the Congress raised the CAG report on the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation when Narendra Modi was the chief minister of the state, in Parliament. The CAG had rapped the PSU for borrowing some Rs 20,000 crore from PSU banks to explore the KG basin for gas without any notable success. Interestingly those who were at the helm of the GSPC, far from being punished, have been rewarded. Jagdish Pandian, who was the MD of GSPC for eight years, was earlier this year appointed vice-president and chief investment officer of the $100 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Another former MD, Atanu Chakraborty, has been appointed Director General Hydrocarbons, GoI, one of the most sought after regulatory assignments seeking to monetise hydrocarbon assets. The government, however, refutes the charge that no gas was discovered and claims 14 TCF (trillion cubic feet) has been found.
Jagdish Sharma, the Delhi INTUC (Indian National Trade Union Congress) vice-president, has often embarrassed the Congress. Whenever the party did badly, he would bring out posters calling for ‘Priyanka lao, desh bachao’, thus undermining Rahul Gandhi’s position. Now Sharma has also started projecting Robert Vadra. Last week, Sharma put up posters all over Delhi on Sonia Gandhi’s ‘Save Democracy’ march to Parliament on May 6, with Priyanka and Vadra’s photos. Congress leaders would have been in a better position to dismiss Sharma’s impudence if he was not Vadra’s golfing companion. In fact, Sharma was nominated to the Delhi Golf Club thanks to the UPA government.
Thanks to the spurt in the number of TV news channels in Tamil Nadu — there are over 16 channels, including 10 owned by politicians — there is a new sense of glasnost in the state. In the 2011 election, the media was generally too intimidated to discuss in detail the foibles of the state’s politicians. But now, Tamil Nadu has learnt from northern TV channels and everything is open for discussion, including candid visuals of the 92-year-old M Karunanidhi and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who does not get down from her vehicle. When she walks to the dais, policemen block the camera view. It’s difficult to make out what DMDK leader Vijayakanth is saying.
Because of their readiness to help, Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari are two favourite ministers of Congress leaders. Gadkari, the Transport Minister, is receptive towards requests of all CMs, across party lines, for constructing highways and overbridges in their states. Singh as Home Minister is responsive to all pleas for assistance on the home front. Last week, when a Congress delegation led by Ahmed Patel and Anand Sharma sought additional security for Rahul Gandhi during his forthcoming visit to Puducherry, Singh immediately issued orders. Gandhi, however, cancelled his trip.
All in family
Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat, who has emerged victorious from the Assembly floor test, has made the state into a family fiefdom. His son Anand was a Youth Congress leader. His wife Renuka is a member of the state PCC. His daughter Anupama is office-bearer in the party’s Mahila wing. His brother-in-law Mahendra Singh Mahra is a Rajya Sabha MP from the state, while Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal is a close relative. Two other brothers-in-law are also influential in state politics.
There was an unusual photograph posted on Twitter. Digvijaya Singh, one of the Congress party’s most aggressive Hindutva opponents, was seen visiting the VHP office at Delhi’s R K Puram last month. The Congress general secretary’s explanation was rather odd. He was travelling on a train sitting next to an office-bearer of the VHP, he said, and they got into a conversation. When they reached the New Delhi railway station, Singh says, he offered him a lift home. The gentleman in turn invited him to the VHP office for tea. Along with tea, Singh was presented a biography of Ashok Singhal. Singh’s take-away from the meeting was that the VHP is fed up with Modi.