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AI’s cleared the air

Air India (AI), which launched a Delhi-Ludhiana flight last week, had a tough balancing act on its hands. Both the Akali Dal, the party in power in Punjab, and the Congress jostled to take credit for it.

india Updated: May 17, 2010 22:33 IST

Air India (AI), which launched a Delhi-Ludhiana flight last week, had a tough balancing act on its hands. Both the Akali Dal, the party in power in Punjab, and the Congress jostled to take credit for it. The Congress’s Manish Tewari represents Ludhiana in Parliament. The national carrier decided to give credit to both sides to avoid any controversy. “The schedule for the flight was finalised with inputs from Manish Tewari. The initiative and persuasion for an air link between Delhi and Ludhiana by Tewari was also supplemented by the efforts of government of Punjab,” AI said, mentioning both sides by name.

Smile to go miles

At the fag end of Parliament’s budget session, which drew to a close earlier this month with the passage of the Finance Bill, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee lost his cool over the antics of the Opposition. After one such episode, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj met Mukherjee in his chamber and asked, “Pranab babu, why are you getting angry? Did I not tell you we will clear the bill without any hassle?” Mukherjee, who is known to cool faster than he gets worked up, smiled, “How can I remain angry with you? Your smile always disarms me.” Then, it was Swaraj’s turn to flash her pearlies.

The Manchurian candidate

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has been a Sinophile long before he became a minister. During the NDA regime, Ramesh managed to find place in a Confederation of Indian Industries delegation to China for business promotion. A participant recalls that Ramesh was the only politician — that too from the then opposition camp — to be part of that business delegation. What left them wondering was whether Ramesh was arguing for Indian companies or the Chinese ones. After the trip was officially concluded, Ramesh stayed on for a couple of days.

The actor goes to...

AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa is upset that actor Khushboo decided to join the DMK when it was that party’s men who filed several cases against her for her views on pre-marital sex. Jaya TV decided to scrap her much-acclaimed ‘Jackpot’ show, though it had paid her for 18 episodes. Even as DMK chief M. Karunanidhi denied any pressure being put on Khushboo to join his party, the buzz in Tamil Nadu is that the parties are again in search of actors to beef up their teams ahead of the assembly polls next year.

On slippery turf here

Jagdish Tytler, who’s Congress in-charge in Bihar, visits the AICC office almost every day now. Tytler, who is engaged in a turf war with Bihar Congress President Anil Sharma, is regularly meeting party workers who have been camping at the AICC for weeks now, demanding a change in the state leadership. Many leaders feel that by being a regular at the AICC, Tytler is trying to portray that “all is well” in the Bihar Congress. But it is learnt that the party high command will decide the fate of both Tytler and Sharma soon.

Upon his words

Congress ministers landing themselves in controversy over their utterances seem to have become the norm these days. These leaders would do well to learn the art of ‘being discreet without clamming up’ from old school politicians like Sharad Pawar whose party, the NCP, is in alliance with the Congress in the UPA government. At a recent meet at the Indian Women’s Press Corps, when asked to list the ‘biggest achievement’ of the UPA government in its present term, he replied, “Steps taken to improve the economy and providing a stable government are the achievements.” Prodded on the ‘biggest failure’ he answered without batting an eyelid, “Whatever that has not been achieved… there is a scope for improvement there.” It was not the first time that the media were left stumped by the wily politician’s answer.