Losing the elections has been bad enough for Vasundhara Raje, but what she is finding much more difficult to deal with is the torment of having to vacate the chief ministerial bungalow at 8, Civil Lines. During her term, she had effected a complete makeover of the place, spending huge sums in the bargain. As is appropriate, the new Chief Minister, Ashok Gehlot, has moved into 8, Civil Lines now. Raje, meanwhile, does not seem to have reconciled to the idea of residing at alternative government accommodation. Refusing to stay in the bungalow allotted to her by the Gehlot government, she has moved into a private residence at Jaipur. Well, there’s just no home away from the throne.
Connecting the dots
The post of the TRAI Chairman falls vacant on March 21, when Nripendra Mishra retires, and the lines are already abuzz with contenders lining up to get their call across. While the selection committee decided to issue an advertisement inviting applications, Department of Telecommunications (DoT) Secretary Siddharth Behuria has been strongly lobbying with Telecom Minister A. Raja to dispense with the formalities and send a letter to the PM recommending him for the job instead. Candidates in the running include Anil Razdan, who recently retired as power secretary, and K. Sreedhara, member (technical) of DoT, a non-babu with links to Tamil Nadu’s first family. The action is set to shift to Barcelona next week when all telecom operators and the DoT’s top brass gather for the annual GSM Mobile Congress, which might offer some clarity on who finally gets his place in the sun.
The birthday surprise
Talk of the Ambani brothers settling their differences is much like discussing the weather in England. During the past few months there’s been endless gossip in the kar o bars of the stock market and in Delhi’s power corridors. The expectations of peace returning to Bombay’s Gaza Strip, a.k.a. Nariman Point, are expected to resurface around mother Kokilabehn’s 75th birthday at the end of the month. Amen to that.
Follow the leader
There has been no poll to determine if people feel safer after P. Chidambaram became the Union Home Minister. But if one goes by the number of security personnel guarding Home Ministry functionaries, Chidambaram does seem to have had a clear impact at the ministry. His refusal to be guarded by commandos since he feels “safe and secure” enough has prompted a similar reaction down the line. In fact, security personnel, till recently a status symbol at North Block, have suddenly become taboo. Chidambaram is also travelling on low-cost airlines, insisting on standing in queues at airports and refusing to have aides accompany him to carry official folders. It is another matter, however, how long it takes for the bureaucracy to stop following their political master, and go back to following their natural instincts.
Waiting for Gowda
Desperate to improve its prospects in Karnataka, the Congress is ready to swallow its pride. It has sent feelers to JD-S leader HD Deve Gowda for the two parties to join hands for the Lok Sabha elections in the BJP-ruled state. But there’s no guessing the former Prime Minister’s reaction. Despite defeat in the Assembly elections last year, Gowda played hard to get when by-elections to eight Assembly seats were held in December. The Congress, to its chagrin, could not win even one of these. And now, in a bid to revive its fortunes in the state where it once held sway, it has once again approached the JD-S. Watch this space for what happens next.
All in the family
The husband and wife duo of commerce secretary Gopal Pillai and labour secretary Sudha Pillai are top contenders for the job of home secretary, which falls vacant on March 31, when Madhukar Gupta retires. Gopal Pillai had an outstanding stint in the Home Ministry as joint secretary handling the North-east during the height of insurgency there. But throwing a spanner in the works might be the other name that’s doing the rounds, that of the current revenue secretary, P.V. Bhide. It remains to be seen who will make it safely home.