Updated: May 8, 2016 12:44:59 am
MoS Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was openly defiant of his senior, Minister of Minority Affairs Najma Heptulla, in the Rajya Sabha this week. Naqvi had got up to respond to a parliamentary question and insisted on giving a combative reply even when Heptulla asked him to sit down as she wanted to put across the ministry’s point of view. Later, Naqvi walked up to Heptulla’s seat and spoke to her rudely. Meanwhile, on the Congress benches, there was a spat between two party MPs, former minister Jairam Ramesh and J D Seelam, over the UPA government’s ‘treatment’ of Andhra Pradesh when the state was being divided. Seelam told Ramesh, “Sit down, You don’t know anything.”
P V Narasimha Rao was about to take over as head of a math in Tamil Nadu when news came that Rajiv Gandhi had been assassinated. Contrary to the popular impression that Rao had bowed out of the 1991 Lok Sabha elections because of ill health, it was Rajiv Gandhi who denied him a party ticket. Rao noted in his diary, “This is the worst day of my life.’’ It was then that he received an offer to head the math and he accepted. He was in the process of closing his bank accounts when news came on May 21 that Rajiv Gandhi had been killed in Sriperambudur. The politician in Rao was immediately alerted to the possibilities in the changed scenario. At 10.45 pm, he telephoned then President R Venkataraman’s joint secretary Gopal Gandhi requesting for an appointment the next day. Gandhi concedes that the meeting was not a “mere courtesy call’’. In his diary, Rao wrote that he presumed both Pranab Mukherjee and Sonia Gandhi would be against him. These are some of the many revelations about Rao in a biography to be released in July by journalist and academic Vinay Sitapati, who once worked with The Indian Express. The author has the advantage of access to Rao’s private papers, including meticulously kept diaries and calendars marking the day’s engagements. Sitapati says Rao took a conscious decision not to be seen as the central figure pushing for economic reforms because he realised that there was huge opposition within the Congress. So much so that the landmark decision of de-licensing industry was taken on Budget day in the hope that the news would be overshadowed by taxation changes. And though Rao was also industries minister, the announcement was made by his MoS.
Not a bogeyman
Six former Pakistani high commissioners to India and nine former Indian high commissioners to Pakistan took part in the Ananta Aspen Track II Dialogue in Delhi last month thanks to the efforts of Satinder Lamba, the head of the think tank and a former envoy to Pakistan. Incidentally, the six Pakistani ex-high commissioners were taken to meet NSA Ajit Doval. In Pakistan, Doval is portrayed as something of a bogeyman and TV channels show video clips of his speeches from his days as head of the Vivekananda Foundation where he is heard advocating an offensive approach towards Pakistan and boasting of his days as an undercover agent in Pakistan. However, the ex-ambassadors were pleasantly surprised to find the NSA most effusive and optimistic about good relations between the two neighbours.
After an 11-year wait, veteran actress and three-time Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan has finally been allotted a government bungalow at 11 Lodhi Estate. The UPA government procrastinated in allotting her suitable accommodation. Even the NDA government first wanted Jaya Bachchan to settle for an MP flat, till it was pointed out that as wife of Amitabh Bachchan, she needed some privacy.
This is not the first time that Narendra Jadhav, a Dalit economist recently nominated to the Rajya Sabha, had a chance to join politics. When Jadhav’s family biography in Marathi, Aamcha Baap Aan Amhi, became a best seller, Sharad Pawar offered Jadhav a chance to contest on an NCP ticket for the Maharashtra Assembly. Jadhav declined, saying he was interested in national politics. In 2009, former PM Manmohan Singh tried to secure a Congress Lok Sabha ticket for Jadhav, but Sushil Kumar Shinde spiked the move. Shinde did not want another Dalit leader in the Maharashtra Congress. The BJP has shrewdly realised the advantage of having Jadhav on its side.
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