Keeping tab on the political grapevine.
Wheels within wheels
The Congress headquarters in Delhi is packed with Boleros as the Uttar Pradesh unit has refused to use them for the elections, fearing the vehicles are jinxed. These vehicles were purchased just before the 2007 elections in UP for use in campaigning. The party finished fourth. Then these were handed over to the Bihar unit for the 2010 assembly polls. Again the party barely managed to win four seats, six less than it had got in 2005. The latest buzz is that these vehicles could be used by the staff of the party's official newspaper, The National Herald, proposed to be re-launched soon. Not in the driver's seat this time too?
Confined to the corridors
He may be the key minister in providing Indira Awas Yojna to lakhs of homeless people across the country, but rural development minister Jairam Ramesh is yet to manage a room for himself in Parliament house. His predecessor, Vilasrao Deshmukh, has retained the room on the ground floor corridor on the logic that it was allotted to him on the basis of his seniority and not linked with the portfolio. Another room on the third floor was found for Ramesh, but the present incumbent, the MoS for external affairs E Ahamed is yet to vacate it. None's making any room for him.
Farming out the blame
The other day, Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh regaled the Governors' Conference, which was chaired by Pres-ident Pratibha Patil, on the 'Indian kisan'. Talking about the plight of farmers at the hands of those who force solutions on them, he said, "It's like two doctors who make a quick diagnosis on seeing a limping person. One doctor said he has a knee problem, the other doctor observed it might be 'symptoms' of paralysis. But a third person said the limping person is a kisan who has lost one chappal... this is the status of our kisan after 60 years of Independence. Everyone has a solution but nobody knows what it's." No leg to stand on for our kisans.
The dragon and delays
Blame it on a host of factors but Xi Jinping, China's president-in-waiting is yet to visit India. His visit to India has been in the pipeline for some time now. The tussle over the Dalai Lama addressing the world Buddhist conference, following which Beijing postponed boundary talks, has also been cited as an incident that has cast its shadow over Xi Jinping's possible visit. Of course, the talks were held later. External affairs minister SM Krishna, during his recent visit to China, also made efforts to meet him. But Xi was in the US then. However, New Delhi hasn't stopped trying. Guess who did not come calling?
Shying away from the limelight
These are, surely, signs of changing times in the foreign ministry establishment with a media-shy Ranjan Mathai replacing media-savvy Nirupama Rao as foreign secretary. The annual dinner hosted by the foreign secretary, made so famous and lively under Rao, was held last week. The host Mathai couldn't make it to the dinner, as he was doing crisis management in the Maldives. Unlike previous occasions, there was no major presence of senior officials. Unlike last year, there was no soft music playing in the background either. And no private five stars hotels were contacted for food as it came from the Ashoka. He's sure treading very softly.
Biting the dust in this battle
Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan is on the backfoot after the defeat in the Mumbai civic polls, as he had taken a lead role in ensuring a Congress-NCP tie up despite voices within party against the move. He had also projected the elections as a battle between the UPA and the NDA. The defeat has given fresh ammunition to Chavan's detractors within the party. They want the central leadership to fix responsibility. While Chavan is out of the woods, the axe is likely to fall on Mumbai Congress chief Kripashankar Singh. Tied up in knots it would seem.