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HindustanTimes Wed,16 Apr 2014
The buzz -- keeping tabs on the political grapevine
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 18, 2013
First Published: 22:10 IST(18/3/2013)
Last Updated: 22:13 IST(18/3/2013)

Dreaming of a dream budget
Initiating the discussion on the general budget last week, BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi quoted from the verses of Thiruvalluvar, a Tamil poet routinely quoted by finance minister P Chidambaram in his budgets.

Attacking the budget on various fronts, Joshi went on to quote Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prize winning economist who was also quoted by Chidambaram in his budget speech.

Looks like both philosophy and economics can be appropriated to suit different requirements. But not all opposition members were uncharitable towards the finance minister.

At an industry event attended by Chidambaram, Rajkumar Dhoot, a Rajya Sabha member from the Shiv Sena said that the finance minister could not deliver a ‘dream budget’ as he had spent “sleepless nights preparing the document”. And now for a bit of reality.

Not one to be railroaded
RJD leader Lalu Yadav has been out of the government for four years. But when it comes to defending the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Lalu can be more loyal than the king.

To the criticism from some opposition members in the Lok Sabha that Rae Bareli, the constituency of Sonia Gandhi is favoured with rail projects and trains, Lalu stood up to say, “Trains from Rae Bareli do not terminate there but would go to different parts of the country, (benefiting those people too).”

When Kariya Munda, deputy speaker in the chair asked him to wrap up (samaapt) his speech on the rail budget, Lalu shot back, “Kaise hum railway ko samaapt karde? Hum bhashan samaapt kar rahe hein!” (How can I end the railways? I can only end my speech).

No visible talking points here
Even as Wharton business school turned Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi away from its Indian conclave, attracting brickbats from some, and accolades from others, Harvard University held its annual India summit, and invited Union urban development minister Ajay Maken.

The minister, who spoke on March 12 at the conclave in Cambridge, Massachusetts, about urbanisation in India, was excited about addressing some of the brightest minds in the world, and even tweeted about it.

But Harvard business school and Wharton are rivals. The absence of a talking point to attract the kind of press coverage the Wharton conclave had attracted, was a downer for some of the Harvard meet organisers. Even bad publicity is better than no publicity it would seem. 

It goes from bad to verse
A group of activists had recently gone to meet a senior minister to air their views on the proposed anti-rape bill. The minister advised that they should instead meet his cabinet colleagues who are also legal experts.

The activists replied they have already gone to see one of them. “But before discussing the bill, the minister took out his mobile phone and read out sms poems he had composed on women.

Then he brought out a book and read some of his published works. He also wanted to turn on the music system and make us listen to film songs for which he was the lyricist,” according to an  activist . He was clearly on song.

He’ll have to make it work
Congress president Sonia Gandhi recently had a one-on-one meeting with former Punjab unit chief Captain Amarinder Singh. The meeting triggered speculation that Singh would be accommodated in the AICC as general secretary after he was replaced by Gurdaspur MP Partap Singh Bajwa as Punjab Congress chief.

Gandhi sought an assurance from Singh, who still enjoys considerable following among the rank and file, that he would work to strengthen the party ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Interestingly, none of his loyalists attended a lunch hosted by Bajwa. Coming to the aid of the party?

He clearly had a field day
It’s no secret that minister of state for HRD Shashi Tharoor loves cricket. But a visiting delegation from Victoria, Australia found itself at the receiving end of a light-hearted but acerbic jibe from Tharoor recently.

Addressing the delegation — in India to promote education in Victoria — Tharoor genially thanked the visitors “for travelling across the seas to come here, to see their cricket team getting drubbed by us!”

The minister was, of course, referring to the lead India holds in the ongoing test series against Australia.

And given how critical the Indian student market is for Australian universities, he can joke all he wants — the delegations will still come. That was straight off the bat.


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