Even if Rahul Gandhi takes over as the Congress president during the AICC session in January,it would not mean that the partys old guard will be eased out immediately. This was indicated by the Congress vice-president while speaking informally to a dozen political editors and bureau chiefs recently. Rahul feels there should be no disruptive changes before the 2014 elections. Asked when he would agree to become the partys prime ministerial candidate,Rahul said he had never been asked to take charge. The ball was not in his court.
Insult to Gujral
Akali Dal MP Naresh Gujral was horrified to learn from CPWD engineers that the Central government proposed to shift the samadhi of his late father,former prime minister I K Gujral. The government planned to transport the plaque erected on Gujrals samadhi to a new site named Rashtriya Smriti,which is to be developed at a samadhi complex near Raj Ghat in New Delhi. Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,protesting the disrespect to Gujral and questioning why his samadhi was being singled out for transfer. At present,separate samadhis in the same area have been provided for late president S D Sharma and former prime minister Chandra Shekhar. The government had permitted the last rites of Gujral in the vicinity of these.
A farewell lunch organised last week by a chamber of commerce for diplomat S Jaishankar,who is soon to take over as our ambassador to the US,was rather strained thanks to the bad vibes between India and the US following the arrest of India’s deputy consul general Devyani Khobragade in New York. US Ambassador Nancy Powell looked intimidated and the chief guest and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon were in a sombre mood. Several former diplomats at the party were loud in criticising what they called the arrogance of the US government.
Parliamentarians were relying on Sachin Tendulkar to ensure that they won a cricket match against journalists,an annual feature. They assumed that even if the Little Master seldom comes to Parliament,he would at least show up to defend the honour of their team. But Tendulkar did not turn up even though he was in Delhi,claiming that his ankle was hurt. Former Test cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu also stayed away. Consequently the MPs team lost,even though former Test players Mohammad Azharuddin and Kirti Azad represented the parliamentarians.
A cough problem
Arvind Kejriwal,the hero of the Delhi Assembly elections,suffers from chronic cough,which gets aggravated every winter. Because of this he is unable to sleep properly. Kejriwal has tried allopathy,ayurveda and homeopathy,to no avail. In fact,whoever meets him these days suggests a new remedy. Normally,Kejriwal chews an ayurvedic herbal medicine. He is an acute diabetic patient as well. When he addressed the press conference last Sunday,his cough worsened and his doctor warned him that he should not meet visitors for a week and remain indoors. Not a viable proposition when his Aam Aadmi Party is considering whether or not to form the government.
Cracks over statue
Four larger-than-life bronze statues,of Jawaharlal Nehru,Jayaprakash Narayan,Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Maulana Azad,stand in the large grass courtyard outside Parliaments Central Hall. Last week a contractor was hired to erect a pandal in the courtyard for a function where President Pranab Mukherjee was to honour the best parliamentarians. The labourers seemed oblivious to the sentiments attached to these iconic figures. While putting up the bamboos for the pandal,the heads of the leaders got covered and one could only see their lower portions. Several agitated MPs wanted to raise the disrespect to the national heroes during Zero Hour in Parliament. But then Parliament was adjourned on Monday and the function was cancelled because of the death of senior minister Sis Ram Ola.
On BJP leader Arun Jaitleys suggestion,several amendments were introduced in the draft of the Lokpal Bill before it was taken up in the Rajya Sabha. For instance,the ruling party had included a clause that all organisations which receive public donations should come under the ambit of the Lokpal. The ruling party apparently wanted to target NGOs,without considering that this clause would also apply to all political parties.