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Keeping tab on the political grapevine

india Updated: May 14, 2012 21:11 IST
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No warmth towards him

Several ministers and top leaders including defence minister AK Antony and Lal Krishna Advani walked up to former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee to greet him in Central Hall during Parliament’s 60-year celebrations. Another former Speaker PA Sangma — who had recently advocated making a tribal leader the next President — didn’t get much attention although he was sitting next to Chatterjee. Asked why Sangma was given the cold shoulder, a senior Cabinet minister quipped, “The idea of the programme was to highlight the achievements of people who have become a part of history. Not someone who wants to make history.” A subtle difference there.

Based on little understanding

When MoS in the Prime Minister’s Office V Narayanasamy, a Puducherry MP, walked up to SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav to negotiate on the motion to suspend pro-Telangana MPs, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi turned to her key party managers to wonder if Narayanasamy and Yadav would really be able to understand what the other person was talking about! Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee — known in political circles for his elephantine memory — quickly recalled: “Once your mother-in-law (Indira Gandhi) also laughed in the same way when she heard GK Moopanar was deputed to Maharashtra to solve a political crisis. She also wondered if Moopanar and our Maharashtrian leaders would be able to understand each other’s conversation,” Mukherjee told Gandhi. Lost in translation.

Racing towards the post

The hot topic of discussion in Congress circles these days is the presidential polls. The race has narrowed down to vice-president Hamid Ansari and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. The support of the entire political spectrum has given Mukherjee an edge over Ansari but the dominant view in the Congress is that it will be difficult for the leadership to spare its only trouble-shooter. There is, however, also a strong opinion building up in the party that Mukherjee should be elevated. Many Congress leaders are these days seen interpreting this suggestion in different ways, depending upon their individual preferences. Let’s see who’ll top the show.

The past is really past

The newfound political friendship between Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa and her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik after they found common cause in opposing the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) is upsetting DMK chief M Karunanidhi. Two days after the two CMs shared a dais in Chennai at the Odisha Day fete, Karunanidhi sought to remind his cadres how close Patnaik’s late father Biju Patnaik was to him. Jayalalithaa may describe Biju Patnaik as a “father figure”, but, Karunanidhi said in an open letter, the latter had in 1979 almost brokered a truce between him and his arch rival, MG Ramachandran. This could have led to a merger of the DMK and the AIADMK floated by the Tamil matinee idol. At a secret meeting arranged by Patnaik at a Chennai guesthouse in mid-September 1979, MGR accepted the merger formula wherein the unified party would be named DMK while the AIADMK flag would be retained, he claimed. But, it is another story that MGR went back on his word.