His dark (reading) materials
Former telecom minister A Raja, who's cooling his heels inside Tihar, sought permission from the director general, prisons, to visit the jail's library. He even 'requested' that at least three Tamil newspapers are supplied to him everyday so that he could keep track of what's happening back home in Tamil Nadu and how the DMK's faring under Jayalalithaa rule. At night, Raja is particular about watching English news on TV. Nope, he's not in the mood to watch Kalaignar TV, the channel he helped launch in three months and which landed everyone, including Kanimozhi, in trouble.
The sants come marching in
With sadhus and sants coming out of the woodwork and political parties coming out of their cubbyholes to woo them, the Congress, too, doesn't want to be left behind. Clusters of babajis were seen at 24, Akbar Road since Ramdev grabbed the headlines. Baba Hathyogi, spokesman of the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad, a known critic of Ramdev, met several senior Congress functionaries last week. This left many guessing if the Congress is planning to counter the yoga instructor with a party-sanctioned baba. Let the clash of the akharas begin.
The next foreign hand
Hectic lobbying for the post of foreign secretary has entered the final phase. All signs suggest that Indian ambassador to France Ranjan Mathai will succeed Nirupama Rao. Hardeep Puri, India's permanent representative to the United Nations, was in town recently to meet the powers-that-be. So his name is in the hat. While both Mathai and Puri belong to the batch of 1974, Sarat Sabharwal, a 1975 batch officer and India's high commissioner to Pakistan, is also making a bid. May the yes man win.
Murli makes a comeback
Murli Manohar Joshi's stock in the BJP is on the rise again ever since he became Parliament's public accounts committee (PAC) chief looking into the 2G scam. He's shown that at 77, he can still get tough on the issue against the UPA government. Joshi finds himself being roped in to help out his party in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. In the latter state, BJP chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank wants him to undertake an 'antyodaya vikas yatra'. Advani, however, isn't too happy with the affairs in the BJP. He's upset that he is being only 'informed', not 'consulted'. Case in point: the BJP's agitation against the government at Rajghat was announced even before Advani approved of it.
Will he, won't he?
It's no secret that BJP deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde and party chief Nitin Gadkari have no love lost between them. With his men in Maharashtra losing out to Gadkari's team in getting many party posts, Munde is threatening to quit the BJP. Earlier, he had talked of teaming up with NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal to form an OBC party. This time, Munde's friend and Union rural development minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has talked to him and made him meet Pranab Mukherjee. LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj are taking Munde's threat seriously. Gadkari thinks he's bluffing.
Chomping on challenges
Union food minister KV Thomas is on a high. No, it's not because he's been fasting but because he's been busy scuttling proposals of his old boss, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar. Most of Thomas' decisions have found favour with the government. His rejection of a farm ministry proposal to export wheat, for instance, as well the increase of the export price of a common onion variety despite no apparent shortage. Though food costs aren't quite down, the government believes it is now more in control in dealing with them with a Congressman at the helm of the food ministry.