Keeping tabs on the political grapevine.
It’s music to the President’s ears
In his political career of over 40 years, President Pranab Mukherjee hardly found time to listen to any music other than Rabindrasangeet. Now, he seems to be in a mood to catch up with other forms of music. Almost every month concerts are organised in Rashtrapati Bhavan and musicians like Subha Mudgal, Purnadas Baul and Hari Prasad Chaurasia have already entertained the President and his guests. He also makes it a point to invite key political leaders. SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and external affairs minister Salman Khurshid have attended Mukherjee’s musical soirees. He is certainly striking the right notes.
Seeing things in black and white
CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta perhaps didn’t miss any media platform to voice his concerns on the economy and foreign direct investment in retail. But when it came to convincing the other Left parties, especially the CPI(M), to unite and demand a white paper on the current economic situation from the Centre, Dasgupta found no takers. Last week, at a strategy meeting of the four Left parties, no one paid any heed to Dasgupta’s proposal to seek a white paper. Later, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury quipped in his inimitable style, “The proposal was not considered. But even if the government comes out with a white paper on its own, it can only portray a dark picture!” No shades of grey here.
Keeping them grounded in reality
Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia was in a dilemma when he was told that a 200-member strong Chinese delegation would be visiting India. His predicament was what to showcase that is unique about modern India. He had taken a ride in a high-speed bullet train when he visited China recently and was impressed. But, there was nothing in India which could have impressed the Chinese, except perhaps the chaos. So, the guests will find themselves confined to the venue of the meeting. Not able to create any impression.
Fight before the big fight
The Congress has already lost one seat in Gujarat. Its nominee from Visavadar failed to file his papers on the last day of nominations as an unidentified man purloined the ‘mandate’ that confirms a person as an official candidate. This has resulted in a direct fight between Gujarat Parivartan Party chief Keshubhai Patel and his former aide and BJP candidate Kanu Bhalal. Many BJP leaders later pointed out that this was a deliberate move by the Congress to indirectly help the former CM. One down before the race has begun.
It’s on Omar’s wishlist as of now
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has hinted at a pre-poll alliance between his National Conference and the Congress for the 2014 Lok Sabha and state assembly elections. While a few state Congress leaders have openly endorsed it, many others were upset over the reported statement and said it was “too premature”. Abdullah’s outspoken uncle Mustafa Kamal, a known Congress baiter, described the statement as the chief minister’s intention but one that needs the party’s approval. Speaking too soon perhaps.
Besotted with his better half
No one can miss the aura of love when minister of state for human resource development Shashi Tharoor and his wife Sunanda Pushkar are in public together. But within the confines of his office as well, the minister seems quite besotted with his wife. On his desk is a framed photograph of the couple. And if his phone rings, you’ll hear the song ‘Agar tum mil jao, zamana chod denge hum’. He chose the ringtone after a friend suggested it, but no prizes for guessing who the ‘tum’ is. He, after all, did give up his ministerial post in 2010 when his wife and he were questioned over their role in the Kochi IPL team. Obviously, she completes him.