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Veiled message

The President’s critical observations did not escape the government.

Written by Coomi Kapoor |
September 15, 2013 12:18:10 am

Veiled message

While addressing the convocation of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Bhubaneswar’s Centre for Management recently,President Pranab Mukherjee remarked on the deteriorating state of the economy. The rupee had depreciated by 18 per cent,there was high food inflation and manufacturing growth had slowed down,he pointed out. The President’s critical observations did not escape the government. Congresspersons feared it reflected Mukherjee’s annoyance that some sections in the Congress had been trying to blame the downslide in the economy on the policies taken by the government during 2009-12,when Mukherjee was finance minister. The Congress is keen to clear up the misunderstandings and hurt feelings on this score and to keep the President in good humour.

A ‘twit’ too

Husband Shashi Tharoor has a mammoth 18,96,916 followers on Twitter. Wife Sunanda has now decided to become a twitterati. As she puts it,“If you can’t beat them,join ’em. After three years of telling my husband not to tweet,I’ve become a twit too.” Her twitter name is @sptvrock. The rock does not stand for music,she says,but for the Vivekananda rock in Kanyakumari,Tamil Nadu. Sunanda has already got into the swing of things. To a follower who said it was nice to know the beauty behind the brain,she retorted,“You’ve got it wrong he’s the beauty I’m the brain”. Writing on the plight of Kashmiri Pandits,she lamented that no one had come forward to help them. Someone commented,‘Wow,wife of Shashi Tharoor kicking Congress on Kashmir anyone listening”. She ticked off the tweeter,who apologised. “See,Shashi I told you there are good people around,” she noted. Though a pro at the game,Tharoor has himself got into trouble thanks to Twitter. Considering her husband is a minister once more,Sunanda will have to be a tad cautious in her new pastime.

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UP boss

With communal violence flaring up in western Uttar Pradesh,some point a finger at Amit Shah,appointed to look after BJP affairs in the state. In fact,Shah has been an infrequent visitor to the state,partly because of ill-health and lately due to jailed IPS officer D G Vanzara’s resignation letter,slamming Shah and Narendra Modi. Also,BJP president Rajnath Singh does not want Shah to stray too often into what is his territory in Uttar Pradesh. On Shah’s second tour of the state,Singh insisted on accompanying him around. Since then,Shah’s visits to the state have been infrequent and BJP ticket seekers go to Delhi to meet him. Rajnath wants to ensure that if the BJP does well in the elections in the state,it is he who gets the credit. Earlier this year,his candidate was appointed the BJP state president,while his nominee is chairperson of the state campaign committee. Singh has been active in pushing Modi’s case as the PM candidate. However,newsmen wonder whether they should read meaning into his remark,“Who is popular does not necessarily become PM”.

Club politics

North East Delhi MP J P Agarwal insisted on speaking during Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha on the last day of the session. He raised objections to the temporary structures at the Constitution Club in Delhi,and demanded that these be demolished. He was shouted down by a group of MPs cutting across party lines. Agarwal’s attack was aimed at the secretary of the Constitution Club,BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy. Relations between Agarwal,chairperson of the parliamentary housing committee,and Rudy are strained. Agarwal believes the club for MPs should fall within his domain. Interestingly,club election alignments are not along party lines but are reflective of intra-party rivalries. Rudy insists there is no question of pulling down the temporary structures for which the NDMC gave permission. The structures are a makeshift arrangement while the CPWD renovates the club. Apart from Agarwal,some others are reportedly unhappy at the developments. The fact that Speaker Meira Kumar gave Agarwal permission to speak is itself significant,though most MPs feel Rudy has done a good job at the once run-down club.

Still waiting

Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone have been waiting for their murder trial,over firing on an Indian boat,killing two fishermen,for a year and a half. The NIA has yet to file a chargesheet,while the other Italians who were on the ship have refused to come to India to testify. Meanwhile the Italian Embassy is spending Euro 6,000-7,000 monthly on the Italians who have to remain in Delhi. They are a familiar sight at the Italian Cultural Centre cafe,where the Gandhis are also seen sometimes.

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