Home, see, home
At the all-party meet on Kashmir last week, senior Home Ministry officials led by Home Secretary G.K. Pillai sat right behind senior BJP leaders L.K. Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley. While the BJP leaders found this arrangement amusing, the officials were told that they had been seated in such a manner that they could be in Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s “line of sight” in case he needed their help.
Tickets to ride
These days, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) office in Delhi has been taken over by ticket aspirants from Bihar. This rush has forced Mukul Wasnik (general secretary in charge of Bihar) and B.K. Hariprasad (screening committee chairman) to work from Wasnik’s residence at Aurangzeb Road. What has enthused the ticket-seekers is a report that stated that the Congress will pay R75 lakh to each candidate. But the other day, a senior Congress leader was in for a shock when he asked an aspirant to meet either the state chief or the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader. “Who is the state president and what is a CLP?” the prospective politician shot back leaving the senior Congress leader stunned.
Sibal sets the ball rolling
The selection process for appointments to the posts of vice-chancellors of central universities and directors of Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institutes of Management begin — strangely — only after the outgoing heads end their respective tenures. This delay in appointing a head often hurts the institutions. Now Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal wants to fast-track the selection process of new vice-chancellors and has asked for a list of all top posts that are likely to fall vacant in the coming months. Sibal has also asked ministry officials to start looking for possible candidates for the selection panels that suggest names for these top positions — a demand that initially startled some officials but has left them praising the minister.
Back in purdah
Where is Mrs Lalu Prasad Yadav a.k.a. Rabri Devi? Has the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) pushed his wife and former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi to the background because he is keen to make a comeback in Bihar? These questions are doing the rounds as the state gears up for the Assembly elections. Having run the state as, well, CM for eight long years while her louder half was busy fighting legal cases, Rabri hardly makes any public appearance these days. Instead, she’s back in the — not kitchen cabinet — kitchen.
He’s no pushover
Just weeks after he was called a “first-rate file pusher” by Congress leader K. Keshava Rao, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal can now give a fitting response to his detractors. The New York-based Institute for International Education will present its prestigious Stephen P. Duggan Award for Mutual Understanding to Sibal when he visits America next week. Previous recipients include former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright and former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. According to the grapevine, Rao’s outburst against Sibal was possibly prompted by certain sections of the party. Softer times at last for the HRD man.
Digvijaya sees red
Conjunctivitis has kept Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh out of action. Recently, Singh had been in the news for taking on Home Minister P. Chidambaram and HRD Minister Kapil Sibal. With even Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel contracting conjunctivitis recently, there is non-intensive speculation these days about whether there are two camps within the Congress — of the clear-sighted and of those bearing the red eye.