Keeping tabs on the political grapevine
Taxing our Word Cup memories
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, like the rest of us, is delighted that India has lifted the World Cup. But his joy is lined by a special lining. As he explained with a chuckle, "It is an accidental coincidence that during 1983 when Kapil Dev won the World Cup, I was the finance minister of the country. And now when again India has won the Cup, I am the finance minister of the country." So that explains the 28-year-old drought!
Congress president Sonia Gandhi wasn't so familiar with cricket in 1983, but by the time Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team lifted the World Cup on Saturday, she was celebrating the triumph with ecstatic fans (of the Indian team, not her, that is) on Delhi streets. Barring one or two insiders, nobody in the Congress had a clue about Gandhi's 'spontaneous' outburst of joy. As a senior functionary underlined, "It was a spontaneous decision." The party's media department also galvanised into sudden action with journalists receiving Gandhi's victory message within seconds of Indian captain Dhoni hitting the winning six. We believe the message was spontaneous too.
How spontaneous! The prequel
With Mum taking to the streets, Junior couldn't be seen as a bore now, could he? After the high-voltage India-Pakistan semi-final match in Mohali last week, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi landed up at the UT Guest House in Chandigarh. The media was staying here and was using it as the media centre. Gandhi turned up after midnight and asked whether he could have dinner. Was the kitchen open? What do you think was the response, eh? By the time Gandhi came in for dinner, most people had already finished their meals. The upsides of spontaneous gestures.
Not Mohali, but Bahrain
With Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani watching the India-Pakistan match from the stands in Mohali, one guy who missed out being there was external affairs minister SM Krishna. On the day of the match, Krishna had a scheduled bilateral meeting with Bahrain foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa in Delhi followed by a lunch in his honour. Earlier Krishna had mulled about postponing the meeting. But he gave Mohali a skip as he thought it fit to attend a meeting with the foreign minister of a country with a largish Indian population where anti-government protests were on. Krishna wanted to ensure that the army would be ready to protect these expatriate Indians if things went out of control. The visiting dignitary readily agreed. In any case, Krishna's more into tennis than cricket.
Will the war of words between Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Jammu and Kashmir Congress president Saifuddin Soz ever end? The elections to six seats in Jammu and Kashmir legislative council have once again brought to the fore the growing enmity between the two Congressmen. While Ghulam Nabi Monga of the Soz faction filed nomination papers as the official candidate of the Congress from Kashmir, Abdul Ghani Vakil, a staunch loyalist of Azad, also jumped into the fray. But Soz, in a deft political move to force Vakil out of the contest, conceded all three seats from Kashmir to the National Conference and agreed to fight from two in the Jammu region. A stumped Azad faction is now claiming that the Congress has willingly given up its 'space and base' in Kashmir.