Seeing would be believing
Maverick politician, Union minister and a known Mulayam Singh baiter, Beni Prasad Verma continues to be outspoken as he considers himself an important factor in the Congress' prospects in Uttar Pradesh. Recently he told some friends that Azam Khan, the UP minister whose close questioning and brief detention at Boston airport sparked off a huge controversy, was unhappy with Mulayam Singh Yadav. He claimed that Khan felt humiliated in the party, of which he was one of the founders, and that he was now exploring the option of moving out. Verma believes that if he pushes his case with the Congress leadership, Khan could end up being the Congress nominee from Moradabad in place of former cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin. But Verma's assertions must be taken with a pinch of salt. We're not sure if he Khan swing this.
Not playing it by year
Age catches up with the best of us, even the otherwise fit and active 85-year-old BJP leader L K Advani. Last Friday, BJP leaders, led by Advani, went to Rashtrapati Bhawan in order to petition the President on the issue of Sarabjit Singh and the Chinese incursions in the Depsang plains. Much to the chagrin of other BJP leaders, Advani forgot Sarabjit's name and erroneously blamed the Manmohan Singh government for failing to act despite the Pakistan government commuting his death sentence to life imprisonment. He went on to say the UPA government must discuss Sarabjit and the China incursion issue in Parliament. Perhaps he forgot that it was his own party which had bought the functioning of Parliament to a standstill. An age when the memory plays tricks on a person.
A bit of cool treatment
Five Congress MPs from the Telangana region held a 48-hour sit-in protest last week at the gate of Parliament house to press for their demand for a separate state. During the two days, the MPs had a good time. They were served dry fruits, fresh fruits and sumptuous food for lunch and dinner. Parliament staff also ensured that the MPs do not face any inconvenience and provided pedestal fans and coolers. While on the first day, the MPs had blocked the entry and exit of their colleagues, the staff persuaded them to shift to other side of the gate on the second day. To embarrass the Congress, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj met the agitating MPs and expressed solidarity with them. Janata Dal (United) chief Sharad Yadav, the Samajwadi Party's Neeraj Shekhar and NCP's Supriya Sule and some of their party colleagues and Union ministers also interacted with them. The heat is really on.
Not keen to be missing in action
The BJP's boycott of the UPA regime over Coalgate and the JPC report on the 2G scam may not last until Parliament's monsoon session. The reason: the principal Opposition is disinclined to be seen as a stumbling block in the way of the food security bill and the one relating to land acquisition. A top BJP leader cited populist considerations to justify his party's possible change of stance if the government promulgated ordinances before pushing the two laws for parliamentary approval. Staying away is not working here.
A touch of Gujarat to the mix
Ahmed Patel, political secretary to the Congress president, is the most powerful man in the party other than Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. The Congress chief has tremendous trust in his abilities and for his part, he has always lived up to her expectations. Lately, however, another politician from Gujarat, Madhusudan Mistry, has also emerged as the high command's favourite, given the faith Rahul Gandhi has in his political acumen. Mistry is on the panel to decide the next Lok Sabha's candidates and is also in charge of Karnataka where the Congress is expected to do well. He is regularly consulted by the young vice president and his elevated status has made many in the organisation envious of him. What needs to be known is how well the two Gujaratis get along with each other. We need to unravel this Mistry it would seem.
Not getting away from the hurly burly
Now that the Election Commission has announced the dates for the two Rajya Sabha seats from Assam including the one represented by the prime minister, speculation about whether Dr Manmohan Singh will get another term of six years may soon come to an end. Congress sources had indicated that Singh, under pressure from his family, was reluctant to seek re-nomination on the ground that he had been the PM for nine years and his close relatives wanted him to get away from the tension and pursue academics or his other interests. However, Congress president Sonia Gandhi wants him to continue and Singh could not refuse her. When renunciation is not an option.