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The buzz

Human resource development (HRD) minister Kapil Sibal finds himself in a tricky situation over the controversy surrounding the appointment of a new secretary to the University Grants Commission (UGC).

india Updated: Sep 17, 2012 21:54 IST

The best man for the job
Human resource development (HRD) minister Kapil Sibal finds himself in a tricky situation over the controversy surrounding the appointment of a new secretary to the University Grants Commission (UGC). Akhilesh Gupta, the scientist who was chosen by the selection panel, was an adviser to Sibal at the department of science and technology, when the HRD minister was in charge of science in UPA 1. Gupta's selection has been challenged and the UGC has started the selection process afresh. But Gupta remains the best candidate in the eyes of many. The worry: will selecting him lead to charges of favouritism because of his former proximity to Sibal? Too close for comfort.

Not a smooth path for him
Deputy chairperson of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia faced the uphill task of getting the 12th Plan cleared, as he faced opposition not only from outside but from within. Two members, Mihir Shah and Sayeeda Hamid, differed over the Plan and agreed only when told that the prime minister has asked the plan panel to revise the targets. Ahluwalia had a slew of central ministers calling including environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan, sports minister Ajay Maken and health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, protesting against portions of the plan document. Not going to plan at all.

The detail in the retail
RJD chief Lalu Prasad has backed the UPA's decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail. He argued that while shoes are being sold in air-conditioned shops in India, people are forced to buy food grains and eatables from open markets, thus compromising their health. On Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's opposition to the move, he said she would be pacified soon. "She used to oppose one thing in the morning and support it by evening," he jokingly remarked. A direct intervention from Prasad.

On the comeback trail
The chances for a comeback to the council of ministers have brightened for Shashi Tharoor in the next reshuffle. But a section within the Congress has already launched a campaign complaining that the tiny state of Kerala is getting too many ministers. The state has six ministers at the Centre including AK Antony and Vayalar Ravi. Only too many it would seem.

Not quite ready to mingle
People's Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti was forced to cancel her media interaction at the Foreign Correspondents' Club, slated recently in Delhi, for odd reasons. The invitation for the interaction and cocktails were sent out on behalf of the party's spokesperson Sameer Kaul. Though no reason was cited for its cancellation, a Kashmiri journalist based in Delhi apparently called up her father and former J&K CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and informed him about the invitation. Fearing a backlash in Kashmir, the senior Mufti got the interaction cancelled. No new date has been fixed for the media interaction so far. A question of the wrong address?

Old acquaintance is not forgotten
Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa is seldom known to unwind over lunch or dinner with her old friends, considering her tight schedule. But, recently, after several years, she invited 10 veterans of the Tamil film world over for lunch at her Chennai residence. It was a trip down memory lane for the CM and her co-stars of the late 1960s like Anjali Devi, Sowcar Janaki, Saroja Devi, Rajashree, Jamuna, Sukumari and Sachu. Jayalalithaa also invited Cho Ramaswamy, political commentator and editor of Thuglak magazine and playback singer P Susheela. Nostalgic times for her.