Portrait of a gentler didi
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee may have severed ties with the Congress but she does not want to burn all her bridges with the former ally. Recently, on the 69th birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Banerjee garlanded his portrait at the state secretariat in Kolkata. The Trinamool Congress chief also recalled the inspiration she had got from Rajiv Gandhi in her fight against the communists when she was the state Youth Congress chief. Banerjee was part of the new generation that Rajiv Gandhi promoted in politics. A softer side to the stormy petrel.
Fear of being hauled over the coals
Born and brought up in convoluted world of Uttar Pradesh politics, coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal tried to gloss over the missing files in the Coalgate scandal in the Rajya Sabha last Friday but Shastri Bhawan mandarins fear the worst is yet to come. With the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) all set to inform the Supreme Court of the missing files on August 27, the coal ministry babus feel that they will ultimately be made the scapegoats by the premier investigating agency for the actions of their political masters. Such is the fear that the ministry has stopped issuing minutes of the past meetings including the last on August 21 on the missing coal files lest they make their way to the media via entrenched corporate lobbyists. But then not issuing minutes is a ritual in the coal ministry as a large number of final records that led to the allocation of coal blocks to private parties without the recommendation of the parent ministry have been ‘lost’. A clear need for a lost and found department here. Heavy lifting for Lalu
Heavy lifting for Lalu
There are no more than two or three legislators in the country who retained their membership even after conviction, under the protection offered by Section 8 (4) of the Representation of People’s Act, which was struck down by the Supreme Court recently. But the urgency that the UPA government is showing to reverse the SC order that would make convicted members lose their seats in Parliament and legislatures is due to the danger that looms for one person — Lalu Prasad. Now that trial’s over, a verdict is expected any time in the fodder scam case, and most people think he will be convicted. A friend in need, indeed.
Still unclear on matters nuclear
Ahead of the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US in September, there are intense efforts to pitch US nuclear reactors to India. While there are still some rough edges to be smoothed out with regard to India’s nuclear liability Bill, a group of Indian journalists was recently hosted by the State Department, briefing them on the various aspects of the nuclear technology that the US offers. Westinghouse, a US company, is expected to supply six reactors for a plant that is set to come up near Bhavnagar in Gujarat. Getting things back on track?
They seem poles apart
Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah is upbeat over the outcome of the results in the by-elections in two Lok Sabha constituencies. He not only breached the stronghold of his one-time mentor-turned-archrival former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda but also promised to win more than 20 Lok Sabha seats for the Congress in the 2014 polls. Before the by-elections, his ministerial colleague MH Ambarish had likened him to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. “Siddaramaiah is like Modi to the Congress. A day will come when he will be made to tour the entire country. I have a mole on my tongue. Whatever I say comes true,” he had said. But Siddaramaiah was quick to dismiss this comparison. “We are like north pole and south pole. This issue is something that I can’t even think of in dreams,” he said.
Teaching what he practises
Former solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam is keeping the government at arm’s length, but thinks the latest move of the UPA to reverse the SC order making instant the disqualification of sitting MPs convicted of certain crimes will run foul of the Constitution. Subramaniam, one of the highest paid lawyers in the country, is cutting down on his practice further — his latest commitment is teaching. He will teach law at Delhi University, his alma mater, besides taking up certain briefs free of cost for public purposes. A not so brief number of commitments.
Teeing off for the day
Congress president Sonia Gandhi was relaxed and cheerful at the inauguration of the National Media Centre on Saturday. She stayed back for tea and a bit of an informal chat with guests — most of them journalists. In her speech, she confessed her preference for the good old print media, now threatened by the digital media. “Holding a newspaper along with a cup of tea in the morning is essential for me,” she said.