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Keeping tabs on the political grapevine

Even as the alleged rift between home minister P Chidambaram and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee is creating a buzz in the capital's power circles, the two put up a show of bonhomie for the benefit of observers.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2011 23:25 IST

No rift in the lute
Even as the alleged rift between home minister P Chidambaram and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee is creating a buzz in the capital's power circles, the two put up a show of bonhomie for the benefit of observers. In the Lok Sabha last week, while BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi was speaking on the general budget, Chidambaram was sitting alongside Mukherjee chipping in with facts and observations to counter the Opposition's attack. Chidambaram even took notes of Joshi's speech when Mukherjee had to excuse himself from the House to take a call. And the award for best actor goes to…

Pangs of separation
After their protests in Parliament caught the Congress high command's attention, Telangana Congress MPs met finance minister Pranab Mukherjee who told them to be calm till May 10. That's when the UPA may take a fresh call on separate statehood, he reportedly hinted to them. By then the polls in West Bengal would be over too. Any noise on Telangana before that could have an impact in Bengal where the demand for a separate Gorkhaland state is still active. A case of 'divided we stand' at the moment.

Parts of the sum
As the finance minister announced a bonanza for MPs by raising the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLAD) allocation from Rs 2 crore to Rs 5 crore, the Congress parliamentary party (CPP) also doubled the monthly subscription fee for its members. The 278 Congress MPs — 207 in Lok Sabha and 71 in Rajya Sabha — will now have to shell out Rs 2,000 each month. The R1,000 hike will come with retrospective effect from January this year. Not a sum which will break their bank balance really.

My place, not yours
Ministers love protocol — and they smell a rat when they are at the receiving end of perceived discrimination. Malaysian deputy PM Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin, in the capital over the past week, requested appointments with a number of Manmohan Singh's ministers, but they all had to visit Yassin at his hotel. Except one. Yassin broke with his rule to visit foreign minister SM Krishna — whose ministry was in charge of organising the meetings and venues for other ministers. This special treatment for Krishna left a few of his colleagues fuming. But then, it is his call.

Nose out of the joint

Former minister of state for external affairs, Shashi Tharoor, threw two parties last week to celebrate his turning 55. The first one had politicians and socialites in attendance, including BJP leader Arun Jaitley. The second was meant for Malayali journalists and to relaunch the MP in Kerala's public space. The Thiruvananthapuram MP is apparently upset that the club of Kerala MPs don't invite him to meetings and deliberations regarding the state. He has also been kept out of the Congress election panel for the state where assembly elections have been announced. Ah, the
sorrows of Shashi.

Rai of hope for BSY
Actor Aishwarya Rai Bachchan kept her word to Karnataka CM BS Yeddyurappa that she would attend the World Kannada Conference at Belgaum despite stern warnings from the Shiv Sena which asked her not to participate as it was against Marathis. An undeterred Rai not only addressed a crowd of 70,000 plus, but she did so in Kannada as BSY beamed in pride. Belgaum is in Karnataka but is an area bone of dispute with Maharashtra. The Shiv Sena's threats must have turned to ash in its mouth.

Round the mulberry bush
BSY and his arch rival, Janata Dal(S) state president and former CM HD Kumaraswamy, are again threatening to poach on each other's MLAs. While BSY has been told by the BJP leaders not to revive the rivalry, HDK has threatened he would hit back: "I know how to poach on BJP MLAs and reduce the party's strength from 106 to 96 in the assembly in no time." HDK is bugged that Koppal JD(S) legislator Karadi Sanganna had recently quit the party and joined the BJP. With all this poaching in the offing, they might just come up against Jairam Ramesh.