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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014
Keeping tabs on the political grapevine
Hindustan Times
April 08, 2013
First Published: 23:36 IST(8/4/2013)
Last Updated: 23:40 IST(8/4/2013)

On a positive platform
When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh turned down an invitation from the Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) at Delhi University to attend the institution’s annual day as chief guest in March, his decision was seen by many critics as owing to a  reluctance to speak on a platform where Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi famously wowed students recently. The PMO had cited the then ongoing Parliament session as the reason behind the PM’s inability to speak at SRCC. But when SRCC approached human resource development minister MM Pallam Raju to step in for Singh, the government decided that not representing its point of view would be counterproductive. Raju eventually did fill in for the PM at the SRCC annual day meet on April 5. Quite clearly time to speak up.     

The masterly art of inaction
The political astuteness of late Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao is coming in handy for today’s politicians who are turning to his Chanakya-neeti occasionally to deal with situations. At an event in Srinagar last week, chief minister Omar Abdullah faced a demand from youngsters trained under a government skills-jobs programme Himayat to increase their special allowance to R3,000 per month. Though explaining that he did not have the financial resources to make the hike, Abdullah did not totally disappoint the boys and girls. “But I am not saying no to your demand. It is under consideration. You know, we had this prime minister PV Narasimha Rao who used to say taking no decision is also a decision in itself.” Let’s hope this does not extend to governance in the state.

Rooms with historic views
The renovated historic rooms and halls of Rashtrapati Bhavan  have been drawing a large number of visitors every weekend. Some credit for this perhaps goes to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. It is learnt that when Pranab Mukherjee moved there last year, she had requested him to restore the old glory of the building. She had heard stories from her mother-in-law, Indira Gandhi, about historic furniture and rooms and later learnt that most of them were in a shambles. Last week, a few more parts of the Rashtrapati Bhavan were open to the public. A real sense of history.

He had no answer to that
Recently, when Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar came to meet the prime minister, he also chose to spend some time at Parliament’s Central Hall. As Kumar was chatting with a senior BJP leader from the Rajya Sabha, Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien walked up to them. The BJP leader introduced Derek to Nitish: “Here is a renowned quiz master who belongs to a party that is a pure puzzle!” A tough one to solve.

Offence is not the best defence
Defence minister AK Antony is pained over reports about the growing factionalism within the Congress in his home state of Kerala. He has warned the state leaders not to cross the lakshman rekha as such tendencies are akin to chopping off the branch of a tree on which one is sitting. Advising party leaders not to air differences in public, Antony at the same time urged Kerala unit chief Ramesh Chennithala to take stern steps to check such self-destructive tendencies among partymen. Not keeping within the party line.

Pitching for the young man
Jammu and Kashmir doesn’t have an Indian Premier League (IPL) team, but chief minister Omar Abdullah is very clear which team he’s backing. Ever since the Pune Warriors franchise signed up Kashmiri cricketer Pervez Rasool for this year’s IPL season, Abdullah — like many others from the state — is supporting that team. Rasool, an off spinner and a right hand batsman, is the first cricketer from J&K to bag an IPL contract. But as Abdullah tells his friends, Rasool’s story is particularly important because it resonates with ordinary, young Kashmiris. Rasool, who received national attention in February when he took seven wickets against Australia in a warm-up match, was detained in 2009 by the Bangalore police on suspicion of carrying explosives to the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Soon, he’ll be playing there against the Bangalore franchise. He’ll be spinning a new story.


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