The last few days of the 14th session of the Lok Sabha have seen elevated decibel levels. Minority Affairs minister AR Antulay’s demand for a probe into the killing of ATS chief Hemant Karkare created a ruckus both in and outside parliament. BJP members kept trooping into the well of the House, shouting slogans against Antulay and demanding his removal from the Union Cabinet. As they took a break from slogan shouting, Antulay was seen gesturing whether their lungpower was totally exhausted. Minister of State for Home Shakeel Ahmed was also seen pointing towards the BJP members to ask Shahnawaz Hussain to come to the well too. And, Shahnawaz responded with a smile.
The delhi police’s attempt to rightsize the security cover of VIPs in the Capital has been met with stiff resistance. This, when, only the ‘excess’ staff is being withdrawn. Private secretaries of various politicians, including cabinet ministers, have been calling up senior police officers and questioning the move. A retired official’s wife, whose Personal Security Officer was also being withdrawn, was furious and a number of senior police officers had to bear her wrath. However, she was politely told by each of them that the police commissioner had passed written orders, which only he could withdraw.
Talking the talk
The festive season has brought glad tidings for LK Advani. On the penultimate day of Parliament, Sonia Gandhi walked up to him to wish him a “Happy New Year.” Advani returned the wish. Well, he certainly needs all the good wishes he can get as his party moves into election gear. Earlier, when the House had concluded the debate on terrorism, Sonia Gandhi, along with PM Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, went over to Advani to thank him for the Opposition’s cooperation. Mukherjee even told him that “your intervention set the tone for the debate. Thank you.” We’ll take their words for it.
On a winning streak
The BJP’s Shahnawaz Hussain seems to be in clover. He’s been appointed spokesperson of the BJP parliamentary party, the chairman of the Committee for Public Petitions as well as the head of the Indo-Saudi parliamentary forum, and was sent by the Speaker to lead a parliamentary team to the Haj. On his return, Hussain presented Advani with a copy of an address made by the Saudi King before a congregation of world Muslim leaders — in which he came down heavily on terrorism while calling upon all faithful to seek the middle road, saying that it was the essence of Islam. “Didn’t you say the same thing?” said Hussain. Do we see the next token of appreciation coming?
Surface to airwaves
Going by the many media reports, one could be forgiven for thinking that the dogs of war are about to be unleashed. But unlike the hyperactive media, ever eager for the big ticket item, the army brass are a more phlegmatic lot. Says a top IAF official, “Had we been on the verge of war, I wouldn’t have taken leave. We are always prepared operationally. But now everything is being linked to 26/11, be it a scheduled exercise or a meeting of the top brass.” As a wag commented, “Thank heavens, TV channels don’t use helicopters for news-gathering the way their American counterparts do. Or else, they would have crossed the LoC and launched a war.”