He’s putting his best foot forward, literally
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah was caught in a massive traffic jam in central Delhi caused due to the visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and had to walk all of Shahjahan Road in the scorching heat to reach Kashmir House. “I hope I can get to the airport in time to catch my flight now because I’m not walking THAT far #delhitrafficmess,” he tweeted. “Crazy traffic mess, just walked the length of Shahjahan Road to Kashmir House. My sympathies with all those stuck in the jams in Delhi,” was another tweet from him minutes later. Some of the twitterati asked him to take the airport metro line while some had a laugh at the thought that a VIP had to face the normal travails of a Delhiite. But he is not taking it out on the Chinese as he also called for improving relations between the two countries. It seems Abdullah believes in walking the walk.
Turning a deaf ear
Congress president Sonia Gandhi has apparently become indifferent to the views expressed by former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and senior party leader Digvijaya Singh. He is known to express his opinions on many subjects from time to time. She perhaps believes that Singh has often been speaking on issues that are not within his purview and sometimes at variance with the party’s perceptions. It seems the different stances on the matter of dual power centres taken by chief spokesman Janardhan Dwivedi and Singh may have attracted the party chief’s attention. Singh, it seems, is becoming the centre of attention in a wrong way.
The fight before the real battle
Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit’s supporters continue to draw up ambitious plans for her. Sometime ago when the December gang rape controversy was at its peak, some of them wanted her to take over as the Union home minister. But with the hype around Narendra Modi getting more pronounced every day, Sheila Dikshit’s admirers believe that the party leadership could consider her as the prime ministerial candidate in case Modi gets the BJP’s nod. They feel that in a contest between two three-time chief ministers, Dikshit would have an advantage.
Political wars in virtual worlds
There’s a silent battle brewing between Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal. It’s a battle over their visions for India, but it’s being fought over Indian origin Americans living 8,000 miles away. After Kejriwal replaced Modi as a speaker at the Wharton India Summit following opposition to the invitation to Modi, the BJP leader came back with an address via video-conferencing — he isn’t allowed a US visa — to Indian Americans in 18 American cities on the occasion of Gujarat Diwas earlier this month. On May 18, Kejriwal’s party organised a conference of supporters in Chicago — home to one of the largest populations of Indian Americans — to seek the community’s support for the fledgling party. Kejriwal addressed the gathering through video-conferencing, while his aides Yogendra Yadav and Kumar Vishwas travelled to the US for the meet. They may not have a vote here, but the Indian American community clearly has a voice.
Is he playing by the rules?
Minister of state for planning Rajiv Shukla, who had been evading the media since the Twenty20 spot-fixing scandal came to light, finds himself part of a debate on conflict of interest. Shukla as minister of state for planning is in-charge of sports and youth affairs in the Planning Commission and many in government circles are wondering whether it amounts to conflict of interest. Shukla is a functionary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Twenty20 cricket league commissioner. An argument in his favour is that the BCCI does not take any money from the government and therefore, there is no conflict. The other side, however, says that as member in-charge he has a role in finalising sports policy including the National Sports Development Bill. The bill seeks to bring cricket under some government regulation despite strong protests from the BCCI. It’s anybody’s game now.
Framing the sweet nothings
Union urban development minister Ajay Maken is busy rebuilding India’s urban infrastructure. But last week, he found time to visit the neighbourhood where he grew up in Paharganj, now a part of his Lok Sabha constituency, in New Delhi. The visit turned even more nostalgic for the minister, when the priest who presided over Maken’s wedding to his wife Radhika came to greet and garland him. An excited Maken shared this anecdote widely, and even posted a photo of the priest garlanding him, online.