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Keeping tabs on the political grapevine

There was panic on the decks before Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir came calling on Indian external affairs minister SM Krishna in Thimphu last week.

india Updated: Feb 14, 2011 23:59 IST

Lift kara do

There was panic on the decks before Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir came calling on Indian external affairs minister SM Krishna in Thimphu last week. No, it wasn’t about Kashmir or Bashir wondering last minute wh-ether he should have a Portuguese translator with him. The problem was a lift malfunction at the hotel where the meeting took place. Krishna had a meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart Dipu Moni and had to move from the fourth to the fifth floor to meet Bashir. As the Pakistani delegation waited for the VIP lift to come down to the ground floor, the lift got stuck. Bashir ultimately took the stairs and the meeting did take place.

Et tu, Nirupama!

Soon after the India-Pakistan talks, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao opened a twitter account. Thus, Rao became the first high-ranking government functionary to open a micro-blogging site, once a trademark of Shashi Tharoor. Every day at Thimphu, the foreign secretary with a masters in English literature, would come up with lines from Shakespeare to describe the days progress in the ongoing talks. If it was “ripeness is all” (King Lear) one day, another day it was “What’s in a name?” (Romeo and Juliet). Did we see officials on both sides scamper for their old pass notes?

Patient Pranab

Senior Opposition leaders looked happy after the recent all-party meeting called by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to break the deadlock in Parliament over the demand for a JPC probe into the 2G spectrum scam. The reason: “Dada was soft, didn’t lose his temper and didn’t even scream” during the meeting. “He listened to all of us patiently,” said a senior Opposition leader from Uttar Pradesh. This also led the Opposition to believe that the government may now consider its demand. Or could this be yet another show of Pranabda famous ‘passive aggression’?

Innocence incarnate

Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa had to rush to Delhi last week after his arch rival BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar complained to central leaders that he had abused him in front of other state functionaries in Bangalore. An upset Sushma Swaraj asked BSY about the incident. The CM assured her that it was a “minor incident” and will not be repeated. “It was Kumar and I who built the party in Karnataka. How can we fight?” came the sagacious reply from the one who can do no wrong.

Hanger on hangs out

Sidelined Congress leader ND Tiwari doesn’t miss a chance to share the dais with BJP leaders, much to the chagrin of the latter. As he battles on with a paternity case, the 85-year-old leader not only rubbed shoulders with BJP leaders at a recent party function in Dehradun but also ‘praised’ AB Vajpayee calling him an “old friend”. The event was to launch the ‘Atal Foodgrains Scheme’ by BJP chief Nitin Gadkari. Tiwari, who had to quit as Andhra Pradesh governor in 2009, also turned up at the BJP office early last month to exchange New Year greetings with BJP leaders. What was it again about a friend in need being a friend indeed?

Number not reachable

Following the telecom scandal, even big players are finding it difficult to access the corridors of power at Raisina Hill. The regular meetings that a big operator has with bureaucrats in Delhi seem to have undergone some changes in recent weeks. A crucial senior bureaucrat has not given an audience to a very important gent for several weeks, prompting speculation that the man’s stocks are down. Figuratively, of course.