From hero to zero

The book will be less about Baru and more about Singh.

Written by Coomi Kapoor | Published: October 6, 2013 12:17:37 am

The book will be less about Baru and more about Singh.

From hero to zero

Sanjaya Baru,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s former media adviser,is writing a book on his four years in the PMO. The book will be less about Baru and more about Singh. Baru wants to analyse why the UPA I was such a success,with the media hailing Singh as king,and the UPA II such a failure. Baru has not discussed the book with the PM. He says it will be published only after the elections next year. One suspects that the book will raise a storm,with Baru,a firm Singh loyalist,highlighting how the PM was stymied by the Congress high command. Significantly,after Rahul Gandhi’s indirect insult of the PM,by demanding that the ordinance on convicted legislators passed by the Cabinet be torn up,Baru had suggested that Singh should resign.

Lalu lashes out

RJD chief Lalu Prasad did not try to hide his anger against Rahul Gandhi for scuttling the ordinance on convicted legislators when he met a group of Patna-based correspondents at his residence last week. He said that if Rahul was so concerned about corruption,he should take action against his brother-in-law Robert Vadra. Lalu used strong words complaining of Gandhis’ ingratitude. He said he had done everything in his power to defend Sonia Gandhi and her son,and that he was the first to hail her as a bahu of India. In a foul mood,Lalu also abused the electronic media.

Driving force

Law Minister Kapil Sibal is in hot water as he is seen as having been the driving force behind the ordinance to bail out convicted legislators. Sibal was keen to save Lalu Prasad since he owes him a debt of gratitude. He was Lalu’s lawyer and the Bihar strongman was responsible for Sibal’s first nomination to the Rajya Sabha. Aware that Lalu was likely to be convicted in the fodder case,the Congress first tried to persuade Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj to agree to extend the last session of Parliament by a day so that the Bill dealing with convicted legislators could be passed. Incidentally,at the Independence Day flag-hoisting at Red Fort,both Swaraj and Arun Jaitley had warned P Chidambaram and Sibal of the dangers of the ordinance route.

Tharoor left out

The four-day exhibition on craft,calligraphy,language,literacy and livelihoods,Akshara,organised by UNESCO and the government of India jointly in Paris last month,was a prestigious event. Delegates from Iraq,Iran,Egypt,Russia and China participated. Former UN secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali spoke. The ministries of HRD,External Affairs,Culture and Textile were associated with the programme. The HRD Ministry was the nodal ministry and since M M Pallam Raju was not going to the function,Minister of State Shashi Tharoor accepted the invitation to preside over the seminar with the senior minister’s approval. Tharoor had to back out at the last minute since the file granting him permission to go abroad was never signed,reportedly due to the manipulation of a ministry official. Instead,Raju,with a delegation of four bureaucrats,went.

Back to square one

Unlike his predecessor Ambika Soni,Minister for Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari has completely ignored the spirit of the Prasar Bharati Bill. Prasar Bharati is meant to be an autonomous body run by an independent board,but Tewari’s ministry is busy micromanaging Doordarshan and AIR. The board’s suggestions about programmes are ignored while junior officials in the ministry call the shots. The minister himself takes personal interest in the Bharat Nirman programme. All director generals and additional director generals are summoned to Shastri Bhavan to discuss the programme. Between May 15 and June 4,there were 21 meetings,and between August 2 and September 18,another 14 . The discussions on Bharat Nirman,which is basically election propaganda for the government,last several hours. Prasar Bharati’s monitoring cell focuses on ensuring that Bharat Nirman spots are shown regularly.

Victory eludes still

Despite Vijay Goel’s efforts,Narendra Modi did not resolve the question of leadership in the Delhi BJP. He joked that the Delhi BJP had plenty of Vijays (meaning victory)—Vijay Goel,Vijay Malhotra,Vijay Sharma and Vijendra Gupta. Goel,who was in charge of the organisation of the rally,ensured that he outshone his Delhi rivals at the event. He was conspicuous in his red kurta,seated next to Modi,and scheduled his speech just before Nitin Gadkari and Modi’s. But the BJP high command is still not convinced it should project Goel as its chief ministerial candidate.

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