No splitting hairs here
The lokpal debate not only saw RJD chief Lalu Prasad taking the usual potshots at the BJP but he also took a few at the Con-gress’ Shashi Tharoor. While delivering his speech, Tharoor often fussed over his hair which kept falling on his forehead. After a few minutes, Prasad got up and asked the eloquent speaker and former diplomat: “What are you doing with your hair? Why don’t you use a hair-pin so that we can see your face clearly?” That must have been a bit hairy for the suave Tharoor.
No deals within wheels
There is a bit of a buzz in Left circles that CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta is listening too much to leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj. Ahead of the lokpal debate, Swaraj called up Dasgupta and sought his support on opposing the clauses in the Bill dealing with lokayuktas in the states. And he claimed to other Left leaders that he was able to extract a commitment from the BJP on corporate houses being brought under the lokpal. As he was spreading the word, an irate CPI(M) Politburo member Sitaram Yechury rem-inded him of some communist tenets. “Do I have to explain to you about the class consciousness of the Indian bourgeoisie parties at this age?” Yechury asked the CPI veteran. The BJP hardly bothered about this clause throughout the debates. Obvio-usly, he didn’t drive a good enough bargain.
Making do with half measures
After the Lokpal Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on December 27, Congress MPs lined up to congratulate party president Sonia Gandhi as the House adjourned for the day. She responded with a smile and remarked “half-half”. Perhaps the collapse of the constitutional amendment bill that would have given the lokpal constitutional status, a proposal floated by her son Rahul Gandhi, was on her mind. The bill could not be passed since the supporting parties had walked out and some 25-odd members were not present in the House when it was put to vote. Parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal later handed over the list of absentee Congress MPs to Gandhi. But the Congress leadership is unlikely to take any stringent action against them given that the UPA has a razor-thin majority in the Lok Sabha. The glass was definitely half empty.
Not identifying with this scheme
Planning commission member secretary Sudha Pillai notched up a moral victory in her campaign against the Unique Identif-ication Authority of India. The plan panel has decided to withdraw its Cabinet note seeking a mandate for UID beyond March 2012. Pillai had been accusing the UID of violating government norms but her claims were brushed aside by the UID and the panel. Now, the decision to withdraw the note after opposition from different ministries seems to have vindicated her stand. Not so unique anymore, it would seem.
A watch and wait policy
Two years after his address at the Intel-ligence Bureau Centenary Endowment Lecture on December 23, 2009, on the new security architecture, home minister P Chidambaram is still waiting for the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to discuss or decide on the proposed nodal National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC). While the draft proposal is with the prime minister, the finance minister and the defence minister since April 2010, he had gone public that the NCTC would be cleared by 2011-end. On December 29, 2011, Chidambaram called the prime minister’s office to find out whether Manmohan Singh was ready to take up the NCTC on December 31. He was told that there was no chance, as Singh was going to the Golden Temple in Amritsar to pray for a better 2012. Maybe the home minister could do with a bit of divine intervention.