Dishing it out like it is
Contrary to the impression that the chief ministers of Bihar and Gujarat can’t stand each other, Nitish Kumar and Narendra Modi were seen exchanging pleasantries at the lunch hosted at the sidelines of the chief ministers’ meet on internal security recently. Surprising other chief ministers who were present on the occasion, Modi was heard asking Kumar about his visit to Mumbai to celebrate ‘Bihar Diwas’ after an initial stand-off with Mahasrashtra Navnirman Sena leader Raj Thackeray, which was later settled with a phone call from Kumar to him. Kumar told Modi that the function went off well. Also noticed at the venue was home minister P Chidambaram asking the chief ministers, including Modi, to try out some dishes. The bonhomie, however, did not reflect later when the non-Congress chief ministers came to make their points on issues like the National Counterterrorism Centre (NCTC). A taste of things to come perhaps.
A few knots and crosses
RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s family’s ties with the Congress are getting stronger. His daughter Anushka is tying the knot with Haryana power minister Captain Ajay Singh Yadav’s son Chiranjeev Rao today. Anushka, or Dhannu as she is fondly called, is an interior designer while Rao is the president of the Haryana Youth Congress. In January, the former railway minister’s fourth daughter Ragini got married to the son of Jitender Yadav, who had left the SP to join the Congress. The decision to field him from Sikandrabad in the UP elections, replacing Youth Congress leader Nizam Malik had led to a near revolt in the state unit. But Yadav, who stood fourth in the polls, last week rejoined the SP. It’s all in the family.
Round and round the mulberry bush
Himachal Pradesh goes to the polls at the end of this year but factional fights in the BJP and the Congress show no sign of ebbing. Prodded by the BJP high command, chief minister PK Dhumal went to the residence of his staunch critic, Shanta Kumar, at Palampur hoping for a patch-up. Kumar, who enjoys a clean image, refused to budge from his stand of not getting involved in party affairs and those of the government until issues like corruption and those accused of being “tainted” are removed. Of course, Dhumal, who is facing charges against his ministry, thinks that Kumar is gunning for him. In Congress circles, Union minister Virbhadra Singh’s bid to stage a comeback is being resented by his rivals. A game of roundabouts here.
Ahead of the race
That Union minister Virbhadra Singh’s writ still runs large in the Himachal Pradesh Congress became evident when he got his candidate elected as the state Youth Congress president. Singh had made the Youth Congress polls a prestige issue after his son Vikramaditya Singh’s election to the top post in the youth wing was declared null and void on the grounds of allegedly violating the code of conduct. The veteran leader ensured that Monica Bharti, the daughter-in-law of the former minister Chander Kumar and wife of sitting legislator Neeraj Bharti, won the election with a huge margin. She polled 3,880 votes while her rival Goldie got just 489. Friends in high places.
A stoic silence as always
Defence minister AK Antony is being named in several speculative stories on who will be the next president of India. Antony, always a man of few words, however, is not moved by these reports. “I have not lost my mind,” he retorted when journalists asked him about the possibility of his becoming the president of India. Mind over matter.