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Keeping tabs on the political grapevine

india Updated: Dec 24, 2012 22:28 IST

Not remembering a great leader
A function to mark the 110th birth anniversary of former prime minister Choudhary Charan Singh on December 23 at Kisan Ghat in Delhi went off almost unnoticed. No Congress minister or senior party leader was seen at the prayer meeting attended by the late farmer leader’s son and civil aviation minister Ajit Singh and grandson Jayant Chaudhary. Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal is one of the important constituents of the ruling UPA coalition. There was a token presence from the Congress with Uttarakhand spokesman Dhirendra Pratap and Uttar Pradesh legislative council member Naseeb Pathan attending the function. With friends like these…

It didn’t go down the toilet

Prisoners in Maharashtra can soon hope to get better lavatories. Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Rajeev Shukla has given R4 crore out of his local area development fund (MPLAD) to build 1,500 toilets in jails across the states. Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail will get the maximum number of new toilets. “I had to wait for almost a year to get the necessary clearances as there was no precedence for spending MPLAD for jails. The prison authorities were doubtful on how to take MP funds for building jail infrastructure,” Shukla quipped.

There’s only so much friends can do
Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia has apparently failed to help his friend and rural development minister Jairam Ramesh in getting included in the full Planning Commission. The rural development minister is a part of the Commission. But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh decided to keep Ramesh out in order to include parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath in the panel. Nath has come to the government’s rescue in many tough situations. Ahluwalia was keen to retain Ramesh but the PM insisted on including senior ministers in the panel. The boss is always right.

Passing the loyalty test
Now we know that Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa’s close aide Sasikala Natarajan and DMK chief M Karunanidhi have shared good relations in the past. But Natarajan’s recent disclosure before a special court in Bengaluru has once again got the AIADMK wondering if there’s more to their friendship than meets the eye. Natarajan, accused in the wealth case along with Jayalalithaa, said that in 1996, Karunanidhi had offered to drop her name from the case on the condition that she turned against the AIADMK chief. She further said the case was initially filed against Jayalalithaa alone. But two months later three more people, including her, were also indicted. “The reason for this is that during the two-month period, Karunanidhi told us he would let me off if I turned against Jayalalithaa. I did not agree to this. Hence, I have been included in this case.” A case study in true friendship.

A new star is rising in the BJP
Many BJP leaders feel that they must watch out for Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Unlike Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, Chauhan shares an excellent rapport with most of his colleagues and knows how to keep the RSS happy. His government has been implementing schemes to promote animal husbandry, which is in line with the sangh’s policy of protecting cattle. He has now even got RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to inaugurate a first-of-its-kind cow sanctuary in the state. Spread over 472 acres at Susner in Shajapur district, the sanctuary will have an animal hospital and about 100 acres will be earmarked for fodder cultivation and breeding of Indian cows. Moreover, if Chauhan wins the state elections next year, he will also have achieved a hat-trick a la Modi. Another contender for the top spot?