Arun Jaitley’s extended stay in hospital and shift from Max in Delhi to AIIMS sparked off rumours that he was critical and being flown to Singapore for treatment. The Prime Minister’s calls to doctors for updates added to the suspicion. Most rumours emanated from Mumbai and seemed related to efforts to drive down share prices. Jaitley’s condition after his bariatric surgery was not life-threatening. But he developed two complications in quick succession — a stomach infection and then a lung infection. Apart from the doctors at Max and AIIMS, Mumbai-based Dr Farokh Udwadia was flown to the Capital for his opinion. Jaitley was shifted to AIIMS not because he was unhappy with the treatment at Max, but so that he could be kept in solitary confinement away from visitors and any risk of further infection. The special sterile room in AIIMS was set up during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s rule for VVIP patients, but had been used only once previously — by Vajpayee himself.
In a historic first, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama decided at the White House dinner to issue a joint editorial which could be carried in the next day’s edition of The Washington Post. Despite the combined clout of the powerful heads of the world’s two largest democracies, the Post would not relent on its deadline. The joint editorial came too late to be included in the next day’s edition of the newspaper and was carried instead in its Internet edition.
MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin is likely to be posted shortly to Geneva as ambassador. His replacement is tipped to be Vikas Swarup, joint secretary in the MEA. Swarup made a name for himself internationally as a best-selling author. His book Q&A, was made into the movie Slumdog Millionaire. He has also written two other best-sellers, Six Suspects and Accidental Apprentice. The diplomat makes clear that he writes in his spare time and not during office hours.
Narendra Modi duly credits India’s Ambassador to the US, Dr S Jaishankar, for helping make his visit a success. According to insiders in the government, Modi is keen to utilise Jaishankar’s services in India. But he cannot be appointed as foreign secretary since the incumbent Sujatha Singh retires only in August next year whereas Jaishankar is due to retire by January 2015. Jaishankar could step into Singh’s shoes only if the FS was posted out as an ambassador to a major country. Another proposal is that Jaishankar be brought to the PMO as adviser on foreign affairs. Since he’s doing a good job in the US, the possibility of his continuing there is not ruled out.
There was a time when journalists scrambled for an opportunity to interact with Rahul Gandhi, but no longer. Last week, the Congress arranged two airconditioned buses for journalists to attend Rahul’s rallies in Rewari and Ferozabad where he was campaigning for the Haryana Assembly elections. Barely a dozen journalists showed up for the first bus and half that number for the second bus.
Jayalalithaa is furious with both the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, O Panneerselvamm, and Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha, M Thambidurai. The deposed Tamil Nadu czarina, who is cooling her heels in jail in Karnataka, believes that her two factotums did not give her valid advance information of the mess she found herself in. Both AIADMK leaders had prepared special passes for visiting Jayalalithaa in Bangalore jail but she refused to meet them. Considering that V Maitreyan lost his post as leader of the AIADMK in Parliament after one of Jayalalithaa’s famous temper tantrums, Thambidurai’s position too looks shaky. Panneerselvam, despite shedding copious tears on his installation as chief minister, has not melted Jayalalithaa’s heart either. She is not convinced that he did enough to save her. Even her lawyers have to face the former CM’s wrath for giving her the impression that she would soon be out on bail. She believes that they had argued her case badly.
Parliament’s Central Hall, a common meeting place for MPs and ex-MPs even when Parliament is not in session, has been closed for a month for renovations. The renovation was ordered early this year by Meira Kumar when she was still speaker of the Lok Sabha, at a cost of Rs 2.5 crore. But since Central Hall is in a fairly good condition, some are puzzled at the need for re-doing the décor.