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Off the record

An exchange of pleasantries between Sonia Gandhi and Jayalalithaa at a function to mark 60 years of the Election Commission has sent hopes soaring among the AIADMK and Congress ranks in Tamil Nadu, keen on an alliance for the 2011 assembly polls. So much so, they are looking forward to Jayalalithaa’s 63rd birthday later this month, hoping that the Congress chief might send a bouquet.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2010 23:37 IST

The great meet and greet

An exchange of pleasantries between Sonia Gandhi and Jayalalithaa at a function to mark 60 years of the Election Commission has sent hopes soaring among the AIADMK and Congress ranks in Tamil Nadu, keen on an alliance for the 2011 assembly polls. So much so, they are looking forward to Jayalalithaa’s 63rd birthday later this month, hoping that the Congress chief might send a bouquet.

The buzz in the AIADMK camp is that Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, who has a good equation with Jayalalithaa, and party MP Maitreyan are trying to break the ice. This has set off alarm bells in the DMK camp.

All on board here

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting with junior ministers to listen to their grievances on work allocation does seem to have had an impact on some Cabinet ministers. At a function organised by the Union rural development ministry recently, Minister C.P. Joshi and his three junior colleagues Shishir Adhikari, Pradeep Kumar Jain and Agatha Sangma were all there. Joshi had the three ministers of state address the gathering and when his turn came, he surprised the audience by wrapping up his speech in less than a minute and endorsed everything that his junior ministers had said. Apparently, Joshi wanted to make a point that he is ‘extraordinarily fair’ to his juniors.

An icy reception

Just before the Himalayan glacier melting by 2035 goof-up hit the headlines, Syed Iqbal Hasnain, the scientist at the centre of the controversy, nurtured an ambition to become a Rajya Sabha MP. He had started meeting leaders to pursue his case. One of them was Shashi Tharoor, the minister of state for external affairs. Of course, Tharoor advised him to try his luck elsewhere, explaining that he himself was a first-time MP and unlikely to be able to argue his case effectively. Hasnain, a former vice-chancellor of Calicut University, is close to Tharoor’s predecessor in the MEA and the president of the Indian Union Muslim League, the second biggest party in the Congress-led United Democratic Front. After his Himalayan blunder (pun intended), Hasnain can go back to studying glaciers.

The Marxist mystery

CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat is one of the few politicians who is extremely reserved. Partymen who saw Karat as an ideologue and a Marxist theoretician were in for a surprise when he interviewed the crime fiction writer Ian Rankin for a newspaper. Besides Marx, Engels, and others, Karat is an avid fan of Rankin and has read all his works.

Plugging the leaks

A gag order for officialdom aimed at the media is often the most common strategy adopted to kill a controversy. So when Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath landed in a soup last week over the controversial advertisements featuring a former Pakistani air force chief, department Secretary DK Sikri promptly issued gag orders. Tirath, it seems, suspected some officials in her ministry were leaking information against her to the media. The provocation was a letter written by a ministry official to the directorate of Audio Visual Publicity, pointing that the advertisement that appeared in the media had been approved by the minister. There have been no leaks about any other letter by the ministry. Guess this gag order was effective!