No one in the Congress party or the government remembered to inform Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that there was no need for him to rush to Parliament by 11 am on Friday. Under the impression that a whip had been issued to party MPs to be present, Singh reached Parliament right on time, barely seven hours after he landed at dawn on Friday after a hectic and tiring trip to France and Egypt. But he stayed on and made a statement on his visit to the two countries. Shortly after speaking in the Rajya Sabha, he confessed to the CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury that he had not slept for four days.
A feminine fight club
The spat between Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati and state Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi saw women politicians take sides. Some of them, who were cooling their heels after the elections, found a good chance to make themselves relevant within their parties. Leading the pack were former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitly and BJP leader Maneka Gandhi. Others who did not make it to the TV screens were heard saying “Is this the Indian version of Charlie’s Angels?”
Homing in on the detail
Parliament ensures accountability but this is not why bureaucrats at the Ministry of Home Affairs are spending sleepless nights this session. Home Minister P. Chidambaram decided that he wanted to hold briefing meetings to prepare for Parliament at 9 am rather than late evening briefings the previous day. Since the home secretary wanted to be briefed by his team of officials in advance, officials soon found instructions on their tables that required them to brief the secretary half-an-hour earlier. Yes, the bureaucracy did crib a bit. But they seem to have got used to their new schedule. “It was painful in the beginning… But we are getting used to it, leaving home when the children go to school,” an official said, putting up a brave face.
Gone but not forgotten
If one were to go by the plaques in Parliament House, we could be forgiven for assuming that the Election Commission of India got its facts wrong and Anbumani Ramadoss is still a Cabinet minister. Both Houses of Parliament were meticulous when it came to updating their websites, after the results to the Lok Sabha polls 2009 were announced in mid-May. But they’ve not been as careful when it comes to updating name plaques. Room Number 38 on the ground floor still bears a large brass plaque that bears Ramadoss’s name. Ironically Ramadoss’s party went with the AIADMK in the elections, parting ways with the UPA, was completely wiped out and did not win a single seat.
Fruits of his labour
The aam aadmi took on a totally different meaning on Friday when Salman Khurshid, Minister of State (independent charge) for Corporate and Minority Affairs, held his annual biryani-and-mango party for the large tribe of scribes. Amid sound bytes and quotes, Salman happily posed for shutterbugs as he literally turned into an ‘aam aadmi’, biting into the luscious and juicy ones he had expertly picked out from a heap of mangoes kept in cold water in a large tub near him. In fact, several such large containers were placed in every room for the convenience of the milling guests. Given the number of people who came, Salman clearly needs a bigger place the next time he plays host.