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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014
Keeping tabs on the political grapevine
Hindustan Times
August 13, 2012
First Published: 23:24 IST(13/8/2012)
Last Updated: 23:26 IST(13/8/2012)

He’s here, he’s there…
It’s been almost three weeks since Pranab Mukherjee took oath as the President of India but his name continues to figure in various Congress panels on the party’s official website. For website managers, he is still a member of the Congress Working Committee, the party’s disciplinary action committee, manifesto committee, central election committee, leader of the house in the Lok Sabha and a Member of Parliament from West Bengal. Many hats still in place.

Homing in on issues
Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde may have got a bit of stick from the Opposition for handling the Pune serial blasts on the day he took over at North Block as well as his jibe at Samajwadi Party Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Bachchan last week during the debate on the Assam violence. But Shinde has been neck deep in home ministry work and has spent the last 15 days catching up on internal security issues apart from functioning as leader of the house in the Lok Sabha. Last week, he spent a whole day at the Intelligence Bureau headquarters getting briefings on the internal issues facing the country. While some babus heaved a sigh of relief at the departure of P Chidambaram, life remains the same for those handling internal security. The more things change….

No name dropping for him
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s remark that he does have the name of a BJP leader in mind for projection as the NDA’s PM candidate has set off speculation in the saffron party’s circles. After making it clear he won’t accept Gujarat’s Narendra Modi, Kumar said, for the first time, “Yes, I do have [a BJP name]. But why should I tell you? I will disclose my cards at an appropriate time and forum.” Curiously, when asked if he thought LK Advani stood a chance again, Kumar had this to say: “Advani is a very misunderstood leader. After Advani, I am the most misunderstood man.” However, BJP leaders could not help speculating that Kumar would heartily back Arun Jaitley’s candidature, considering he has the best of relations with him. Interestingly, Murli Manohar Joshi, who met Kumar the other day, wrapped it up succinctly, “It is good Kumar has made the suggestion and the BJP will decide at an appropriate time.” For now, all we have are informed guesses.

More training in speaking needed
Some cabinet colleagues of railway minister Mukul Roy take notes when the latter speaks. The exercise is aimed at understanding what he actually tried to convey after he remarked “We are committed to gauge conservation”, “Possibility is exploring in Railway Board” and “No segregate datas available”. He once addressed members in the Lok Sabha as “my members”, prompting veteran CPI MP Probodh Panda to protest to the Speaker: “Madam, I am not his member but a member of Lok Sabha.” He seems to be going off track now and again.

It’s an open invitation
The steep fall in its membership in different states in the second phase has forced the Youth Congress to opt for an open enrolment process from now onwards. This means a person can be enrolled as a member of the Youth Congress at any time of the year and not only when a drive is on in any particular state. The youth wing of the Congress has completed first round of organisational elections in all the states and Union Territories in the country during which more than one crore members were enrolled since 2007 when Rahul Gandhi took charge as the All India Congress Committee general secretary, in-charge of the Youth Congress and National Students’ Union of India. Come one, come all.

Objections overruled here
NCP chief Sharad Pawar is known to have major reservations about the Congress’ PJ Kurien’s elevation to Rajya Sabha deputy chairman. But a section of the Congress feels that Kurien is the perfect choice as incumbent K Rehman Khan has spent almost a decade in the post and needs to take up new responsibilities. A section of the Congress claimed that till date, Kurien is the party’s sole choice for the deputy chairman’s post and ruled out accepting any nominee of the NCP or SP for the post. On an upward curve.

Artistry is a bar for some
As many as 15 votes of MPs, including nine from the UPA, were found invalid in the presidential elections. This prompted worried Congress mangers to conduct a crash course for its MPs on how to vote in the vice-presidential elections. The MPs were told not to display their artistic talent on the ballot paper. For a vote to be valid, a member had to put a bar against the name of his or her choice. The Congress members, whose votes were found invalid in the presidential elections, had either tick marked, crossed or circled the name of Pranab Mukherjee. No stamp of approval.


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