Keeping tab on the political grapevine.india Updated: Nov 14, 2011 22:52 IST
Getting frisky with frisking
After the frisking fiasco involving former President APJ Abdul Kalam, Washington has now approached New Delhi to finalise the list of VVIPs whom India does not want American airport authorities to screen. Normally, the Americans do not screen the Indian prime minister, the foreign minister, the vice-president and the president. They also give a wide berth to Cabinet ministers. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, for instance, was given a red carpet welcome when he had gone to attend the International Monetary Fund-World Bank meeting in Washington. While New Delhi is on the verge of proposing that all Union Cabinet ministers and above should not be screened, they are in a quandary over whether to include Kalam. And there’s a reason for the ex-prez to be travelling to US so often. Every three months, he goes to the US to give lectures. That’s a lot of patting at the security.
Absence of mind
Sometimes opting for written speeches can lead to embarrassing situations. Recently, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar read out a welcome speech at a Right To Education awareness launch campaign where she was the chief guest. All senior officials of the HRD ministry were expected, but higher education secretary Vibha Puri Das was absent even as Kumar greeted her in the speech. The faces of the others sitting on the stage — including HRD minister Kapil Sibal and Haryana CM Bupinder Singh Hooda — could be seen slowly turning red.
Rahul off the regime
While everyone is deep in speculation about when Rahul Gandhi will have a more expansive role in the affairs of the Congress, one thing has been confirmed. Gandhi has been missing out on his regular exercise regime. His late-night cycling through Lutyen’s Delhi is off for a while as is his once-frequent visits to the swimming pool in Rashtrapati Bhawan. And most distressingly, Gandhi’s runs, too, are no longer a regular part of his life apparently. He usually runs anything between nine and 11 km whenever he can and keeps himself fit. Given the task ahead in Uttar Pradesh and beyond, he has to be fighting fit. If not for nything else, to keep that hint of a double chin at bay.
A Spartan in defence
It’s difficult to mix pleasure with business if you are travelling with defence minister AK Antony. The 70-year-old minister has acquired a reputation of going about conducting official business in a clinical manner. Antony’s foreign tours are short and his itinerary packed with meetings and ceremonial functions. Bureaucrats and military officers accompanying Antony have found that his tight schedule hardly leaves any time for sightseeing. “Sometimes we find it hard to keep pace with him. Perhaps it has something to do with his simple lifestyle,” said an official who was part of Antony’s entourage to Japan recently. We can hear the whiff of a complaint buried in that admiring statement.
CBI director Amar Pratap Singh believes in catching them young. After taking over as director of CBI, Singh has been calling schoolchildren to visit the new CBI headquarter in Delhi. During such visits, Singh or one of the CBI’s senior officers addresses the kids and tells them to exhort their parents to adopt no bribe policy. Singh also thinks teaching moral values to children can help them to become honest citizens and officers, which in effect would translate into less hardship for the CBI. No, no child labour norms have been flouted.
The BJP’s outsider insider
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi hasn’t been much of a BJP man these days. Apart from dropping by at LK Advani’s rath yatra function in Gujarat, Modi has undertaken a veritable maun vrat with other BJP leaders after the re-induction of Sanjay Joshi in the party. Making his opposition to Joshi publicly known, Modi refuses to budge from his position and is in no mood to accommodate even party president Nitin Gadkari. However, there is one line within the BJP that’s open with Modi: that of leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley. Not only does Modi discuss matters with Jaitley, but he also listens to what the latter has to say. So Jaitley seems to be the only link that the central BJP has with Modi. What are party friends for?