June 7, 2009 3:34:44 am
Asked what he thought of the new Lok Sabha,Lalu Prasad Yadav pointed out that there were fewer men and women who were sons of the soil and there is a marked increase of rani,maharanis and khandani types. One young,newly sworn-in royal,who was accompanied by his mother and wife,felt so much at home in Parliaments Central Hall that he claimed to a journalist that actually this used to be the Princes Chamber in the old days. The glamour quotient in Central Hall was certainly more than usual on the first two days of Parliament. But this was not just because of the newly-elected women MPs. A number of wives of first-time MPs came to witness their husbands being sworn in,including former actress Sangeeta Bijlani,wife of cricketer Mohammed Azharuddin,Sonia Singh,well-known NDTV anchor and wife of RPN Singh,and Supriya Aaron,former journalist and mayor of Bareilly,who is married to Praveen Aaron. Lalu reiterated that he still believes that any bill for womens reservation should also include caste based quotas.
Rationalising the loss of a ministry
While the political buzz is that former law minister Hansraj Bhardwaj was left out of the Cabinet because of a taped conversation with Sanjay Dutt in which he was less than reverential while referring to Sonia Gandhi,Bhardwaj denies this emphatically. Dutt,he says,only came to his residence very briefly to seek his blessings and the rumours are being spread by the evil influence behind the actor. In fact,Bhardwaj met Sonia Gandhi after the cabinet formation and asked if there had been any error on his part. She assured him that there wasnt.
Still,Bhardwaj must have had an inkling that he was not getting back his old portfolio. He was not present in Rai Bareli to vet the nomination forms for the Gandhi family,though he had performed this task for over three decades,ever since Sanjay Gandhi first filed his nomination for Amethi. Some point to Bhardwajs several blunders in the Law Ministry as the reason for his downfall. But perhaps he met his comeuppance for always boasting that he derives his clout from his proximity to the Congress First Family.
The dream merchant
Shortly before the election results,the BJPs in-house psephologist GVL Narasimha Rao was presented a new Tata Indigo by the Madhya Pradesh government. The pollster,who was the hot favourite of the BJP for correctly predicting the Karnataka assembly results,was appointed media adviser to the Madhya Pradesh Government,based in Delhi,with minister of state rank this January. Rao travelled around in a car with a beacon on its roof to advertise his position. Throughout the campaign Rao kept the BJP leaders happy by painting a rosy picture of the partys chances. He predicted an overall tally of between 160 to 170 seats for the BJP. After the BJPs dismal performance,the party was brought down firmly to the groundmany hold the psephologist responsible for raising their hopes. Raos stock is now at an all-time low and the MP Government does not know what to do with him.
Although the Trinamool Congress has 19 MPs,it has only one Cabinet minister,Mamata Bannerjee. In contrast,the DMK has three ministers. Manmohan Singh was prepared to give three Cabinet berths to Trinamool and was keen on Dinesh Trivedi,who has been an active member of the Rajya Sabha,being made one. But Bannerjee did not want anyone else from her party to be included in the top rung of the government. For the same reason,Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy was not interested in Cabinet rank representation for his state.
Well informed neighbour
The Indian Government announced the death of Tamil Tiger leader V Prabhakaran a day ahead of the Sri Lankan Government. Sri Lankans joke that their neighbour seems to have been better informed than their own government. While the Lankan government was still ascertaining fully with post mortem checks if the LTTE leader was indeed dead,the MEAs official spokesperson confirmed the news. The death announcement came conveniently days after polling in Tamil Nadu was over.
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