Putting party before parting
The recent reshuffle of the Union Cabinet has surprised both observers and insiders. The exercise turned out to be so timid that some of the ministers who had reconciled to a different role were pleasantly surprised. One such is highway minister CP Joshi for whom the going in the rural development ministry had become tough. The day before the reshuffle Joshi was offering philosophical explanations about how he never wanted to be a minister in the first place and was a quintessential organisational man. And the party knows best how to utilise him. Now that he has been put in charge of the crucial infrastructure ministry, one hopes the party does know how to use him.
Old in the fold
Pranab Mukherjee has emerged the Congress’ best ambassador to handle Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi and put the party’s ties with the DMK on an even keel. Though it was Mukherjee who had to tell Karunanidhi about the 2G scam and get ex-telecom minister A Raja’s resignation, the DMK chief “respects” the finance minister because he doesn’t favour his arch rival, AIADMK head Jayalalithaa. Karunanidhi’s respect for Mukherjee went up after he heard that the latter considers her an “undependable ally.” Despite many Tamil Nadu Cong-ress leaders favouring a break with the DMK, Karunanidhi was told that Sonia Gandhi considers him as one of the veteran leaders, after Jyoti Basu. That’s good news for the 86-year-old chief minister when scams have dented his party.
Stars in his eyes
Deve Gowda feels the latest turn of events in Karnataka against BJP chief minister BS Yeddyurappa are following the astrological indications given to him earlier. Not only did governor Hansraj Bhardwaj anno-unce his decision to allow the prosecution of the chief minister on the very day he “appealed” to grant prosecution, but the Left is again willing to play a pivotal role, as per his suggestion, to reunite all “third front” parties. But one thing is clear: Deve Gowda won’t mess with beginnings. He waited for ‘rahu kalam’ (inauspicious period) to get over before he got elected as his party chief for the umpteenth time since he founded it in 1999.
Meet but not greet
Virbhadra Singh, appointed minister for small and medium enterprise, is not hiding his displeasure. And one major target of his ire is Union commerce minister Anand Sharma, his rival in home state Himachal Pradesh. Following someone’s suggestion, Sharma tried to send out a peace signal to Singh at the swearing-in function at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Sharma went up to Singh and greeted him but the latter ignored him and walked away. Later Singh was heard asking, “Which is this ministry I am given and where am I supposed to go?” They’re past the post It’s said that bureaucrats are the best weathercocks in capturing impending political winds. If that’s true, the times
are not really good for the UPA government. After the reshuffle and new inductions into the council of ministers, several are looking for Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers as private secretaries. But the brighter ones among the IAS officers are not keen to join the personal secretariat of ministers given the fluidity in politics. It’s telling given that the posts of personal secretaries are usually sought after.