The timing of Manmohan Singh’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Race Course Road was certainly way off the mark, considering it was the anniversary of Modi’s one year in government. Earlier the same day, Singh had strongly criticised Modi, so the meeting later in the day blunted the edge of his assault on the government.
On Tuesday, former telecom regulatory chief Pradeep Baijal had claimed that the ex-PM had tried to threaten him into cooperating with DMK minister Dayanidhi Maran on the matter of 2G licences. So another conjecture is that Singh asked to meet Modi to avoid any further trouble in the 2G case, given that he has already been summoned by a court in connection with the coal scam. At any rate, Singh did not take his party into confidence before calling on Modi.
The Congress was flummoxed by his meeting. Troubleshooters asked Singh to release a press statement immediately to state that they talked about economics and foreign policy and nothing else. Anand Sharma emphasised that Modi sought the meeting and not vice-versa.
Narendra Modi’s catchy line of “Achhe din aane wale hain” was the brainwave of an adman managing the BJP’s multi-crore campaign. But Rahul Gandhi’s equally catchy slogan of “suit boot ki sarkar” was reportedly conceived in-house. The brain behind the slogan, which has been cited repeatedly by Rahul while talking about Modi’s one year in office, is believed to be Priyanka who, unlike her brother, has a way with words. Priyanka is mad with the BJP for raking up her husband Robert Vadra’s land deals to deflect criticism from its land Bill. She came up with the slogan for her brother to use in his parliamentary speech against the Bill.
Slip of tongue
There is more to Bofors and President Pranab Mukherjee’s Sweden trip. A news channel which was invited on the trip was asked informally to make sure that no story on Bofors was telecast during the President’s visit. The channel decided to withdraw from the trip. Earlier, there was news that Indian Ambassador to Sweden Banashri Bose Harrison had formally protested to Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter over some remarks on Bofors Mukherjee had made in an interview.
Doubts about Didi
Plans to unite the entire Opposition over the land Bill have received a setback. Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav was rebuffed by Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee when he suggested that she join a rally next month to protest against the NDA’s land Bill. Considering that Mamata had taken the lead on Nandigram, Mulayam assumed she would be at the forefront of the struggle. But Mulayam found Mamata evasive about giving any commitment. One reason could be that the Left parties will be part of the front. But Mamata has also realised that it makes political sense for the TMC to cosy up to the Modi government in return for Central assistance. Mamata is willing to do business with the BJP now that she has established her electoral supremacy in West Bengal, and may support a few legislation in Parliament.
A S Dulhat, advisor to former prime minister A B Vajpayee on Jammu and Kashmir, has written his memoirs on his stint in the PMO. Dulhat’s book Kashmir — The Vajpayee Years, which is to be released next month, has been co-authored by senior journalist Aditya Sinha. It draws on the former RAW chief’s more than two-decade-long experience working in Jammu and Kashmir and handling the Kashmir desk of the Intelligence Bureau. The book also covers the kidnapping of Mufti Mohmmad Sayeed’s daughter Rubaiya at a time when Mufti was the Union home minister. The author is critical of Mufti’s handling of the crisis. On the other hand, he seems to have been impressed generally with how Vajpayee handled the Kashmir issue.
No club class
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is always keen to project the image of a champion of the underdog. During his brief first stint of 49 days as chief minister, he had even sent a proposal to the Central government that the Ministry of Urban Development take back the land which it had leased to the elite Delhi Golf Club in the heart of Lutyens Delhi. Kejriwal’s radical suggestion was that slumdwellers be shifted to the land.
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