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HindustanTimes Wed,27 Aug 2014

Keeping tabs on the political grapevine

New Delhi, January 07, 2013
First Published: 21:19 IST(7/1/2013)
Last Updated: 21:23 IST(7/1/2013)

A matter of Modi's magic mantras
The government may be incensed over his criticism of its record on growth, inflation and the federal structure, but Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi's presentation at the National Development Council meeting, sprinkled as it was with constructive ideas and catchy terms like rurbanisation, clearly impressed Planning Commission deputy chief Montek Singh Ahluwalia. So much so that he wanted to know who was writing the CM's speeches. In an internal meeting following the NDC meeting, Ahluwalia, one official said, even wondered at the possibility of hiring the person for the Commission's work. With the UPA's campaign against Modi falling flat in successive elections, that might prove useful. Modi is clearly not one to be left speechless on any occasion.

The short and short of it
Whether with friends or friends-turned-foes, minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh believes in cordial relations with all. Ramesh had on January 1 sent an SMS to Trinamool chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee wishing her a happy New Year and best wishes for her party. Though relations had soured and the TMC exited the UPA recently, Banerjee too replied with a message - "Same 2 U." "Mamata-di is mobile savvy. She replies very fast and in the SMS lingo," Ramesh, who visits West Bengal often, said. With a snappy 'Same 2 U,' she clearly believes in keeping things short when it comes to the UPA.

A degree of difference
Human resource development (HRD) minister MM Pallam Raju has quietly dropped the title of 'Dr' before his name, from the nameplate outside his Shastri Bhawan office. Raju, an engineer and an MBA, does not hold a PhD but was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad. Though legally, awardees of honorary doctorates can use the title 'Dr' - as Jayalalithaa and Chiranjeevi do - academics commonly mock what they call 'fake doctors'. So when the new HRD minister's nameplate called him Dr MM Pallam Raju, babus and academics had a bit of a chuckle. The minister's advisers though appear to have got the message. The doctor is not in at this ministry.

Sibal's a verse-atile minister
Telecom minister Kapil Sibal's decision to write the lyrics for a Bollywood love song may be rare for a Union minister, but the lawyer politician who writes poetry whenever he can squeeze in time between meetings is no novice to Bollywood. As HRD minister till recently, Sibal fought on behalf of artists, actors, directors and song writers to get them a better deal under the country's proposed new copyright regime currently before Parliament. So, when he launched his last book of poems, titled My World Within, he had a galaxy of Bollywood names by his side - from Madhur Bhandarkar and Om Puri to Javed Akhtar and Anupam Kher. Sibal's song will be a part of Bandook, a film by actor-director Aditya Om on the gun culture prevalent in parts of north India. He is on song, it would seem.

Getting his wires crossed
After Pankaj Pachauri's entry into the Prime Minister's Office as communications adviser, the link between Prime Minister Manmohan  Singh and the information and broadcasting ministry had weakened. Pachauri kept the Press Information Bureau (PIB) - that had earlier bought two special audio recorders to crosscheck the PM's speeches and remarks before their release - at bay. He soon became the final authority as far as communications from the PMO were concerned. But after the recent 'theek hai' goof up Pachauri seems to be in troubled waters. Also, the current information and broadcasting minister Manish Tiwari enjoys a far better rapport with the PM than his predecessor and meets Singh frequently. Not quite theek hai here.


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