Keeping tabs on the political grapevine.india Updated: Feb 04, 2013 22:09 IST
Never know who is clicking
It wasn't only the opposition who protested against Sushilkumar Shinde's remarks on Hindu terror. After the AICC session at Jaipur on January 20 that saw the home minister make his controversial claims, several of his own party colleagues registered their strong reactions. A few days later, an old picture of Shinde with former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Balasaheb Deoras and other Sangh leaders went viral on social media. The 1983 picture shows Shinde, the then Maharashtra finance minister, in an RSS camp. Surely the home minister must know what he is talking about. He has evidently been there and done that.
Six feet under a tree
His frequent trips to states such as Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa help prove rural development minister Jairam Ramesh's predilection for forested areas and tribal communities. The natural connect, however, cannot be undermined as just superficial. Ramesh has recently said that he would like his last rites to be performed in the Saranda forest of Jharkhand. "Why not? It is a vast expanse of green forest, beautiful blue sky where one can rest peacefully forever," Ramesh said. Unfortunately, neither Ramesh's wife nor mother was very impressed by his plan. They called the minister and gave him an earful. As the minister has surely learnt, hell hath no fury like a Maoist scorned or a woman ignored.
Not a care for the world
Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma has a bad habit. The minute he is asked to talk on matters of foreign policy, he must hold forth. So when chairing the session 'India and the World' at the Congress's Chintan Shivir in Jaipur, the minister's opening remarks lasted nearly an hour. By the time Sharma wrapped up, several Congress delegates were exhausted. One even quipped, "Sharma has spoken extensively about India and Africa. Now let us also hear about the other continents." Clearly not everyone can be on top of Sharma's world.
Needed: a proxy for ministers
The Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) is often billed as a high-profile calendar event, but with several UPA ministers giving the occasion a skip this year, the summit had more fizzle than fizz. On the first day, environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan decided that rather than chair a session on water and food security, she would like to attend a media organisation's function instead. Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh informed the organisers that he would not be attending because of an important Cabinet meeting. These sudden absences, we are told, did not make the hearts of those at DSDS any fonder.
Centre of Tharoor's problems
It isn't always easy to satisfy the demands of one's constituency while performing one's duties of a central minister in Delhi. No one but Shashi Tharoor knows the true implications of this conundrum. The minister of state for human resource development is trying to withstand pressure from politicians in Kerala, all of who want an IIT in the state. Here's the problem: the HRD ministry's policy - backed by the Planning Commission - strictly forbids creating new IITs in the 12th Five Year Plan. Only if engineering could be taught in tweets of 140 characters!
Shipping his anger by post
Union minister for shipping GK Vasan recently picked up his pen to write an irate letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. His grouse - there wasn't a single Carnatic musician on the Padma awardees list this year. In the letter, Vasan informed Singh that despite recommendations from their government and approval by expert committees, several deserving South Indian musicians had been denied Padma Bhushans. Vasan, who is a connoisseur of the classical south Indian style, is all set to make the PM face the music.
Fine line of togetherness
It just takes one meeting with the party president for those in the party to fall in line. After Sonia Gandhi's one-on-one meeting with Punjab unit chief Captain Amarinder Singh, the party in the state seems to have metamorphosed suddenly from a divided house to a united front. It was unusual to see Vijay Sathi, a Congress candidate filing nomination papers for a by-election, being accompanied by Amarinder Singh, Congress Working Committee member Jagmeet Singh Brar and Gurdaspur MP Partap Singh Bajwa. Brar and Bajwa are both vying for the state party president's post, but the party line seems clear - too much power is poison.