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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Dec 2014
Keeping tabs on the political grapevine
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 11, 2013
First Published: 21:11 IST(11/2/2013)
Last Updated: 21:14 IST(11/2/2013)

Going macro with micro blogging

MM Pallam Raju is back on Twitter. And unlike his earlier flirtation in 2010, the HRD minister says he is back on the platform “permanently”. Raju’s motivations seem obvious. Given his ministry’s concerns about India’s students, he needed a better connect with the nation’s youth.

Twitter thus seems like an apt place for the proverbial ‘hangout’. Also, the prime minister had recently encouraged his colleagues to take to social media. As Raju joins the likes of Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari in the PM’s tweeting-facebooking entourage, he has also discovered the simple joys of micro-blogging.

After watching Oscar-nominated Argo this Sunday, Raju tweeted that it was “well-made.” The film has clearly given its director, Ben Affleck, a second life. Here’s hoping Raju’s second Twitter term is just as entertaining.

You must knock on the right door

How much authority do we have? Even Cabinet members like panchayati raj minister Kishore Chandra Deo find themselves stumped by that conundrum. Last week, a delegation of panchayat members from Ladakh travelled to the Capital. A sympathetic Deo listened to their worries for over an hour, but found that their concerns extended the peripheries of the panchayat and stretched to NREGA and rural housing.

While Deo was honest — “Unfortunately, the programmes do not come under me. I will take [these] up with… Jairam Ramesh” — the contingent from Ladakh took the hint. The next day, they called on the minister for rural development, who has thankfully promised quick action. Even if files still get bounced around in our governmental offices, they’re at least reaching the right tables.

Diversions on the campaign trail

The Congress is currently suffering some sort of a Tripura jinx. After the prime minister, it was the turn of Congress president Sonia Gandhi to cancel her campaign in the state because of unavoidable circumstances.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who was supposed to campaign in the state on Friday, has also rescheduled his tour and planned to visit the CPM-ruled state on Monday. With Tripura going to elections on February 14, demoralised party workers seem to be in desperate need for some of the young Gandhi’s tender loving care this Valentine’s day. 

From 2G to Minister-ji

The joint parliamentary committee on 2G spectrum may eventually be subject to a tireless tussle between the Opposition and the UPA, but for Congress MPs, the panel is somewhat akin to a society that promises instant exaltation. The panel has started to seem like a stepping-stone for ministerial berths. V Kishore Chandra Deo and Jayanthi Natarajan were the first to be promoted from committee members to ministers. Then came Adhir Chowdhury, Manish Tewari and Shashi Tharoor. Success suddenly has a spectrum. 

Giving credit when it’s due

India’s only surviving five-star officer Marshal Arjan Singh struck a lone figure at the opening ceremony of Aero India 2013, held outside Bangalore last week. He was not acknowledged by any of the VVIPs speaking at the inaugural session, but all that changed when defence minister AK Antony caught sight of the marshal. Antony referred to the nonagenarian as “the youngest and most energetic” member of the defence ministry’s family.

Antony explained his remark by saying that even though he was younger than the Marshal, their levels of energy and dynamism did not compare. Later, while watching the air show, Antony made sure that the five-star officer was seated next to him. While Antony’s excited innocence is endearing, he does see that Singh’s experience is best kept close.

Omar’s diary is all booked up

Omar Abdullah is undoubtedly a busy man, but the Jammu and Kashmir chief minister’s itinerary was packed more than usual on January 31. On that day, he held separate meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and home minister Sushilkumar Shinde. During these, he was apparently informed about the government’s decision to hang Afzal Guru.

On that day itself, the Jammu and Kashmir directorate of information also issued press releases about Abdullah’s meeting with central leaders. What surprised many was a rare official release about a meeting Abdullah had with Congress president Sonia Gandhi. But surely, a meeting between two senior UPA leaders has no reason to appear unseemly during times like these. After all, a family that talks more, often stays together more.


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