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Keeping tabs on the political grapevine
Hindustan Times
July 30, 2012
First Published: 22:56 IST(30/7/2012)
Last Updated: 22:59 IST(30/7/2012)

Not a good state to be in
The ministers of states in the Union council are rarely a favoured lot, despite declarations in support of young talent. This attitude was on display yet again recently. At a dinner that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hosted for former president Pratibha Patil, the ministers of state were not invited. At a farewell function at Rashtrapati Bhavan that Patil organised, the ministers of state were called but their spouses were not. The Union Cabinet ministers’ spouses were invited. Too young to merit attention, it would seem.

It’s an open secret now
Living life below the radar can be an onerous task particularly for the spouses of Indian Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) spies. To give expression to husbands, wives and children of India’s cloak and dagger operators, R&AW launched its first in-house magazine (aptly named Anamika) last week. Led by Neeta Tripathi, wife of R&AW chief Sanjeev Tripathi, and some spouses of spies who would rather remain unnamed, the colourful magazine provides an insight into the world of R&AW with sections based on identification processes such as retina scans, fingerprinting, bar codes and footprints. It has a section on the profiles of wives of previous spy masters with children contributing poems, photographs and paintings to the glossy magazine. Plans are afoot to make the magazine a monthly affair with the hope that the government does not bring it under the ambit of the Official Secrets Act. No cover after the cover page.

At home with technology
Former BJP deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha SS Ahluwalia has been appointed adviser to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar to recommend the mode and format of digitisation of the Parliament library. Ahluwalia lost the election to the Rajya Sabha from Jharkhand in May but has a solid network among political parties across the board. According to an internal order issued by Kumar, Ahluwalia will not get any salary but will be allowed to retain his government accommodation at 10, Rakabganj Road for one more year. For the record, this facility has been extended to “recognise” his expertise in digitisation. Known to carry an iPad everywhere, Ahluwalia’s hidden expertise lies in the fact that he used to dispatch day-to-day proceedings to the BJP RS MPs through the internet when he was the deputy leader. A virtual coup for him.

Not out for the count
The mini revolt by the nine-member Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by Sharad Pawar against the Congress has prompted some barbs from the senior ally. One of them said: Nau members, sau nakare (nine members but 100 tantrums). Playing it by numbers.

Different strokes for each
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik may have close political ties with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, but he is quite distinct when it comes to their artistic senses. While both chief ministers love to paint or doodle (Banerjee used to regularly draw sketches while listening to debates in the Lok Sabha), Patnaik’s style is completely different. He often says that his paintings belong to the Abanindranath Tagore School of Art while Banerjee’s are from the Kalighat school. The drawing’s on the wall.

Course by course action
Some Congress MPs recently wrote a letter to party president Sonia Gandhi, requesting her to appoint Rahul Gandhi as the leader of the house in the Lok Sabha. This came as a surprise to many of their senior party colleagues some of whom even threatened disciplinary action against them. Some tried to find the genesis of the letter. It was found that this group of MPs meet for lunch or dinner every Saturday at one of their residences. Last week, one of them came up with this idea which found favour with nine of his colleagues while the remaining five decided to stay away from any controversy. Let’s see if the idea is palatable.

No sanitising his comments
Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh is famous for his one-liners. But, the latest one — Indian Railways is the world’s biggest open toilet — has earned him some ire. His comment has upset top  railway officials, who term it negative publicity for the world’s biggest and cheapest rail network system. They want railway minister Mukul Roy to lodge an official protest with the prime minister over his comment. They’ve been derailed by this.


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