Keeping tabs on the political grapevine.
Of political pen friends
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had once gifted a pen to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on condition that she should sign her first papers with it after becoming chief minister of West Bengal. Over the years, she had received pens as gifts from other people too. In the process, Mukherjee’s pen got mixed with other gifts but Banerjee remembered the Congress veteran’s words.
So, at her swearing-in ceremony, she brought a bunch of pens to Mukherjee and asked him to identify his gift. This prompted a hearty laugh from Mukherjee even as he identified his pen. She then signed her oath papers with it. Clearly, the writing was on the wall.
Clear and present bonhomie
After winning a historic mandate, Banerjee visited Delhi to invite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi to her swearing-in ceremony. Banerjee didn’t find it appropriate to meet them empty-handed and hence bought two exquisite saris from Nalli’s — one for Gandhi and the other for PM’s wife Gursharan Kaur.
Though Gandhi couldn’t attend the swearing-in ceremony, she reciprocated Banerjee’s gesture by sending her a special gift through senior leaders AK Antony and Shakeel Ahmed. Curious to know what is inside the packet, the two leaders asked Banerjee to open it.
But a visibly happy Trinamool chief refused to oblige them, saying she would unpack the gift when she was alone. An enterprising soul later found that the packet contained an exquisite shawl. Never look a gift horse in the mouth.
The capital man from Mumbai
Union rural development minister Vilasrao Deshmukh explained his constant absences from the capital recently as proof of his commitment to work — visits to rural areas. But the minister’s engagements from the time he took over in February reveal that almost all his visits were to one big village — Mumbai.
Officials approve the minister as smart, abreast with rural affairs but admit his heart lies in the capital of Maharashtra (also his home) where he was the CM and wants to be again. The minister’s office table is lined with the Mumbai editions of major papers to keep tabs on political and other developments, the Adarsh probe being among them.
And the grapevine has it that the ghost of Adarsh haunts Deshmukh even now. Absence has made his heart grow fonder, it would seem.
No one’s game for this one
India’s civil servants want to have a free run of the sports facilities created in Lutyens’ Delhi for the Commonwealth Games. The civil service officers’ institute has approached the sports ministry to permit bureaucrats and their families access to the facilities early in the morning and late in the evening.
One of the grounds on which the civil servants wanted the relaxation in timings was their late office hours. Word is that sports ministry is not impressed and has conveyed its inability to make any exceptions for the bureaucracy. Of course, they are welcome to enroll and use the facilities as an aam aadmi.
No one to sport and support here.
Shortchanged by WikiLeaks
Textiles minister Dayanidhi Maran has moved the Madras High Court for a direction to a section of the media to pay Rs. 1 crore towards damages for publishing articles that the CBI is probing some telecom deals that involve him.
After his meeting with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi last week, he had to also deny rumours that he was planning to quit. Though he met Kanimozhi in Tihar jail to show that all is well, the DMK’s first family has not taken kindly to the WikiLeaks disclosure about his alleged remark to a US official in 2008 that “when in power, people make money”.
But the damage is clearly done.