Last week, Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee walked up to CPI secretary D Raja in the Rajya Sabha and presented him with a set of doodles she had drawn. Considering it’s a month away from elections in her home state of West Bengal and that her distaste for the Left is legendary, the friendly gesture took Raja by surprise. But the communist is happy and plans to frame some of the sketches for his drawing room wall. Just as well since the Left may very soon have to change the colour of their curtains from red to something less passé.
Wrong signals to didi
And it’s not only Left leaders that Banerjee has been dealing with these days. For the railway minister, the repeated disruptions and adjournments during the rail budget discussion in the Lok Sabha over the Telangana issue came as a dampener. But what irritated her the most were the half a dozen-odd MPs who, during the adjournment, constantly appealed to Banerjee requesting rail services and other amenities for their constituencies. Especially irritating was one particular MP who followed her about the House. Didi was left with no option but to shout at her stalker, wanting to know why she was being harassed even after she had delivered all she could have. “Go there and pour out your agony,” she said, pointing to finance minister Pranab Mukherjee standing in a corner, whose ministry is said to have scuppered many of her plans. And lest we forget, there’s no poll tie-up between the Congress and the Trinamool in Bengal this time.
In God, he trusts
In case you forgot about the existence of Mamata’s predecessor in Rail Bhavan, RJD chief Lalu Prasad has been missing from action in Parliament for some time. It turns out that since being crushed at the last assembly polls in Bihar, the man has turned to divine and celestial interventions. He has been visiting temples all across the country. There are even reports of Lalu consulting astrologers and chanting Sanskrit mantras. Power changes people. It seems that not having powers also does.
The Mallu monolith’s cracking
Malayali bureaucrats on Raisina Hill are going through a bad patch since the whole PJ Thomas controversy cropped up. The ‘Mallus’ are seen as being a powerful bunch. Principal secretary to the prime minister TKK Nair, cabinet secretary KM Chandrashekhar, National Security Advisor SS Menon, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao, home secretary GK Pillai... the list is long. But with Thomas not ‘quitting’ as CVC, the holy aura of Mallu babus being efficient and loyal has taken a beating. We all await a speedy reputational recovery.
The diplomat at home
Prema Krishna, wife of external affairs minister SM Krishna, was shocked to see the wife of a sailor held captive by Somali pirates complaining on TV that she was unable to meet ministers in Delhi. On asking officials why the distraught lady from Mumbai was unable to get appointments, the response was: ‘She doesn’t have the money to travel to Delhi’. Prema immediately handed a cheque to the staff to provide air tickets for the sailor’s wife and an accompanying family member. The next day, they were at the Krishnas’ residence and had a south Indian breakfast before they met the foreign minister himself. Here’s a domestic policy that can guide foreign ones.
New faces in phases
After a six-month wait, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has finally reconstituted the party’s working committee. Gandhi now has to revamp the All India Congress Committee (AICC) departments and cells. Among the many changes, a reshuffle is expected in the coveted media department. Apparently, its chief Janardan Dwivedi wants to give up the post. The big question is who will be his replacement during these difficult times? Also, expect some new spokespersons on the panel, given that Shakeel Ahmed and Mohan Prakash have been elevated and are now in charge of important states.