Leading from the front
Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh is known for shooting from the hip. A day after DMK leader TR Baalu suggested at the UPA meeting that Congress president Sonia Gandhi should become the leader of the House in the Lok Sabha, Singh was the only Congress leader to endorse it. He also went on to say that it’s only a convention but that it was not mandatory for a person to be a minister to hold the post. The remarks have apparently irked many of his party colleagues. They point out to Gandhi’s gesture in 2004 when she heeded her inner voice and declined to stake her claim, as leader of the largest party, to take on the job of prime minister. Not just another task here.
Words are not his forte
The Andhra story has not been good for the Congress as it got routed in the by-elections last week, but a statement made by Union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is haunting it even after the defeat. Azad, during the campaign, said that YSR Congress leader Jaganmohan Reddy would have been the chief minister by now, if he had waited patiently rather than walking out of the party. While Jagan’s followers say this proves that his arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation is part of the ongoing political vendetta, followers of chief minister Kiran Reddy, too, are upset. This is really adding insult to injury.
Smelling of roses
At the UPA meeting last week, Sikkim Democratic Front leader Prem Das Rai suggested that finance minister Pranab Mukherjee should play the Bengal card to outsmart Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee’s opposition to his candidature for the president’s post. But Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said there is no need to playing any card since Mukherjee’s goodwill flows across the political spectrum. Abdullah also invited Mukherjee to visit Kashmir and see the tulip gardens once he assumes the office of the President of India. Not one for bouquets it would seem.
Not turning over a new leaf
A mango tree in 77 Lodhi Estate residence has been the cynosure of every occupant’s eye, including the new chief election commissioner VS Sampath who has moved into the house after N Gopalaswami retired in 2008. Former cabinet secretary Kamal Pande who stayed in the house took great care of the tree. He often watered it himself. Pande told Gopalaswami to take care of the tree, saying it brought good fortune to the incumbent. The buzz is that Sampath, too, appreciates the tree but he would like it to be relocated for a new gate to come up as per vaastu. A bit of uprooting will take place here.
Not one to rail too much
DMK leader TR Baalu was the first to greet finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on being named the presidential nominee by UPA chief Sonia Gandhi. But his enthusiasm in doing the traditional Tamil honour of wrapping a silk angavastram saw him approaching Gandhi before greeting Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Baalu is keen to be reinducted into the Cabinet. Baalu was surface transport minister in UPA 1 but could not make it to UPA 2 because his performance came in for some flak. But with the Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee spewing so much venom, Baalu is hoping her party exits and he gets the railway portfolio. As the current chairman of the Parliament’s standing committee on railways, Baalu has been surprising everyone around by promising new lines. He seems to be on a new track.
A bit of planning ahead
Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia may have a bigger role to play in steering the economy. With finance minister Pranab Mukherjee contesting the presidential polls, Ahluwalia’s role in helping the Prime Minister’s Office with economic reforms is almost certain. But what needs to be seen is whether he will formally move to the PMO or continue to assist the PMO from his office in the Planning Commission. We await his plans.