When in doubt, just walk in. That appears to be the motto of Union Minister for Women and Child Welfare Renuka Chowdhury. The other day she walked into the house of her neighbour, Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami, in Lodhi Estate to clear a doubt about the timing of the Lok Sabha polls. She wanted to know from him if she could go ahead with a conference of anganwadi workers on April 8. Gopalaswami had to tell her that, by then, the Model Code of Conduct would be in force, which comes into effect from the day the election dates are announced. Her visit came on a day when Election Commission member S.Y. Quraishi made headlines from London, ‘hinting’ about the polls taking place between April 8 and May 15.
Stormy petrel in a teacup
George Fernandes is an anguished man these days. A day after he publicly announced his desire to contest from the Nalanda parliamentary seat in Bihar, Janata Dal (United) President Sharad Yadav went on record to say that the party would not have George contest from there. There are even doubts whether the party will field him as a candidate at all. Now, George may be getting on a bit and probably deserves better. But, until about four years ago, he was the boss of the erstwhile Samata Party — which merged into the JD(U) and perhaps thinks that such things are his due. Today, the stormy petrel of Indian politics is all but forgotten, thanks to the machinations of the JD(U) leadership. A tame end to a fiery career.
Thereby hangs a tale
As the Sri Lankan military operation against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) enters its last phase, attention is fast shifting to the fate of LTTE chief Prabhakaran who is wanted by India in connection with the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The past two weeks have seen hectic activity as Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and the External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee dashed to the island nation. Asked if Sri Lanka would extradite the LTTE chief if he is caught alive, a senior South Block official who accompanied Mukherjee remarked, “Sri Lanka has said, we will extradite Prabhakaran to India after we hang him!”
Getting a grip on the issue
The Congress-Samajwadi Party relations hinge on the progress of a disproportionate CBI case against Mulayam Singh Yadav and family. Apparently following the SP’s pressure, the government removed additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium as the CBI counsel in the case. The real problem for the SP, however, is that the court appears in no mood to bail out its boss. It remains to be seen what happens in February in the court and this could determine whether the two parties will fight the Lok Sabha elections in an alliance or not. A dilemma that former wrestler Mulayam Singh has to grapple with.
Now, the big ticket item
Prodded by a top leader, a senior MEA official had virtually decided to resign from the IFS in order to contest in the next parliamentary polls from the New Delhi constituency on a BJP ticket. However, good sense prevailed at the last moment and the official who still has more than three years to retire put on hold his political ambitions. This has upset some in the BJP but there is no dearth of aspirants for the New Delhi ticket that in any case is not going to be easy to win given the state of affairs of the party in the Capital. While Arun Jaitley’s name is doing the rounds now, others who could jump into the fray include former Delhi Lt. Governor Vijai Kapoor who is said to be very close to L.K. Advani and Baleshwar Rai, former NDMC chief. BJP workers who felt marginalised during the tenure of another former bureaucrat- turned-politician — Jagmohan — would prefer someone with political pedigree to contest.