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Keeping tab on the political grapevine

india Updated: Dec 13, 2011 02:12 IST

Hindustan Times
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Speech therapy

Nitin Gadkari is known for his colourful language and partymen try and not cross him for fear of invoking the ‘inner Nagpur’ in him. But the other day, the BJP president told the party’s media department that it was not doing enough to project the party’s views in TV debates. With the gab-gifted Arun Jaitley no longer willing to appear before the media on every issue, chief spokespersons Ravi Shankar Prasad and Nirmala Sitharaman are holding the fort. Gadkari has stated that a panel of spokespersons other than the media cell should be prepared so that the UPA government is cornered on a daily basis. But did the finger-wagging work? We don’t know considering that immediately after, one spokesman went off on holiday.

Not a meeting of minds

Life after the FDI in retail plan was put in the freezer hasn’t been the same for Pranab Mukherjee and Dinesh Trivedi. The altercation between the finance minister and railway minister Dinesh Trivedi that took place at the November 24 Cabinet meeting — that oversaw the original FDI decision being taken — has made the Congress-Trinamool ties a little more fraught. After Trivedi conveyed his party’s opposition to FDI in retail, Mukherjee app-arently went red in the face and called him a “first time MP”. Trivedi’s rejoinder was even more ‘scandalous’: he called Mukherjee a ‘headmaster’. While Mukherjee has moved on, Trivedi has decided to not let go of the FM’s remark. He is now talking to the media about the famous November 24 ‘FDI meeting’.

When adjournment was good

Ten years ago today, the Congress, led by the then Opposition leader Sonia Gandhi, caused a furore in both Houses of Parli-ament on December 13, 2001, over the ‘Coffingate’ scandal. For those with an even shorter memory than that of the voter, ‘Coffingate’ involved the payment for exorbitantly priced aluminium coffins from the US for Indian army soldiers, the orders for which were supposedly cancelled. The Congress-led ruckus was aimed at putting the NDA government and its defence minister George Fernandes on the mat. It was a Thursday, with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee attending Rajya Sabha with Vice-President Krishan Kant in the chair. Frustrated in his efforts to conduct business, Kant adjourned the house at 11.13 am and asked for his car so he could go home. At that very point, a car carrying terrorists entered the Parliament complex and rammed into Kant’s cavalcade with the intention of going towards the Rajya Sabha through Gate No 13. All this may be history now, but had it not been for the adjournment of Parliament, the entire Indian leadership wouldn’t have been there today to commemorate the December 13, 2001, attack on Parliament 10 years ago.

Capping their careers

Lalu Prasad is wearing a Kashmiri karakul cap these days. When health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad spotted him the other day wearing it in the Lok Sabha, he drew the RJD leader’s attention to the karakul-capped Farooq Abd-ullah. They then went into a deep discussion on the cap that ended with the National Conference leader promising Prasad that he would gift him three more caps.

From pillar to new post

There might be a vacancy for the post of special director general (SDG) at the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The buzz is that the current SDG, Prakash Mishra, may not stay for very long. His likely destinations are special secretary (internal security), a post that’s been lying vacant since UK Bansal was appointed director general, Border Security Force; and the post of special director, the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is going to be vacant at end-December when Balw-inder Singh, one of the special CBI directors, retires. If Mishra goes to the CBI, his current boss, director, NIA, SC Sinha, may also follow him there when CBI director AP Singh hangs up his boots in November 2012. Being a senior IPS officer who has had experience working in the CBI, Mishra looks like the favourite to replace Singh when the right time comes.

Leak and linkage

P Chidambaram is a paranoid man these days. Ever since he got the undeserved rap for ‘leaking’ the Liberhan Commission report to the media, he’s extra careful about keeping government reports under wraps in the home ministry. But even as he has tucked away the Kashmir interlocutors’ report in his safe, ‘soft’ copies of the report are with the three mediators. Which is why Chidambaram requested the PM to allow him to upload the Kashmir report on the home ministry’s website so that he does not get blamed in case it is leaked. The report is not earth-shattering. Essentially, it calls for greater autonomy and more devolution of powers. But before the PM could decide, defence minister AK Antony jumped in and said that the report should be made public after the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. Since that day, everyone’s wondering about the link between the Kashmir interlocutors’ report and the UP polls.