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Keeping tabs on the political grapevine

Debating isn't rural development and panchayati raj minister CP Joshi's strong point. In fact, his undiplomatic spat in Parliament with the Opposition once forced Pranab Mukherjee to intervene.

india Updated: Dec 14, 2010 00:29 IST

Become a talking point now

Debating isn't rural development and panchayati raj minister CP Joshi's strong point. In fact, his undiplomatic spat in Parliament with the Opposition once forced Pranab Mukherjee to intervene. So power-watchers were dismayed last week on finding Joshi's name in the list of 18 leaders authorised to take part in debates and discussions in the media on behalf of the Congress. His name also figures in a high-profile committee that will draft resolutions for the party plenary even as he continues to be Rajasthan Congress president. While the grapevine has Joshi hitting it off with Rahul Gandhi, the more credible theory is that he's being cultivated by the powers-that-be as a counterweight to Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot.

Not farewell time yet

Indian ambassador to America Meera Shankar is pitching for yet another extension, after her extended tenure comes to an end in another four months. She's facing stiff opposition from some senior bureaucrats in South Block who think it's time for her to pack her bags. However, another strong candidate, an ex-IAS officer close to the Congress, may force the IFS lobby to close ranks after being alarmed by the prospects of a political appointee as ambassador to the US of A.

Shock therapy works

Congress leader Digvijaya Singh hogged the headlines again with his curse of the gab. But what's got tongues wagging is figuring out his intentions. One theory: Singh has been mandated to divert public discourse from the 2G scam and other uncomfortable issues plaguing the government. Another theory: he's keeping himself relevant. While his opponents in the party are gunning for him, Singh's political star, however, is rising. Two days before his latest 'Karkare' statement, he was given charge of overseeing party affairs in Assam, a state which goes to the polls next year.

He's not leakproof

WikiLeaks seems to be affecting attendance at officially ceremonies. US ambassador to India Timothy Roemer's absence at the Navy Day reception hosted by Admiral Nirmal Verma was noticed on December 4. His absence is being viewed in the context of the leaked cable from the US embassy in Delhi, in which Roemer writes about the Indian Army being a 'lumbering'. So skipping a navy doesn't seem such a mystery then.

A nasty upper cut

MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has ruffled feathers in the BJP by his call to abolish the Rajya Sabha because "seats are sold". With many senior leaders in the Upper House, Singh's mentor Sushma Swaraj sought to quickly undo the damage. She went on Twitter to say "abolition of the Rajya Sabha is no solution. We made a beginning by calling for open ballot." But the seniors are not amused and want Chouhan to be pulled up.

An own-goal maybe?

Senior leaders of the UPA, Pranab Mukherjee and Sharad Pawar, threw not-so-subtle hints through the last fortnight about the 'inevitability' of a mid-term election, if the logjam in Parliament continues. While it was aimed to scare the Opposition, it now turns out that MPs of the ruling side are getting scared.