A case of double derailment here
Now that Pawan Kumar Bansal has resigned as the railway minister, some in the Congress feel that he may also be denied the Lok Sabha seat from Chandigarh the next time. This is, of course, being seen as good news by many others who have ambitions of representing this Union Territory. Chandigarh has mostly voted in favour of Congress nominees over the past several decades. However, if Bansal is not the nominee, who will the party pick? Three top leaders including Manish Tewari, Ambika Soni and Kapil Sibal have a very strong Chandigarh connection. Another former Union minister Venod Sharma could also be a serious contender. Some of them, it would seem, might just find themselves on the right track.
The many shades of opposition
Even as Parliament faced repeated adjournments in the last fortnight, its members did not seem to lose their sense of humour. While the focus was on the ruling party's inability to make the House run, several MPs had a dig at the opposition parties. Referring to the BJP, which is perceived to have helped the treasury benches on many occasions, an MP referred to the party as a 'Sarkari opposition''. According to him, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party were both part of a "Sahyogi opposition'' (cooperative opposition), while it was only the Left which constituted the real opposition. Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool Congress must surely be seething with anger.
On the house for the doctor
When HRD minister MM Pallam Raju visits the US next month, for a strategic Indo-US dialogue on higher education, he will make a brief detour - a personal trip to Philadelphia. Temple University, one of Pennsylvania's large, public research universities where Raju pursued his MBA, is now awarding him an honorary doctorate. Proud of the award he is to receive, Raju, who already holds one honorary doctorate - from Jawaharlal Nehru Technical University, Kakinada - recently even suggested that journalists he was meeting congratulate him. He will also be speaking at the university's Fox School of Business. Whether or not the strategic dialogue leads to any successful outcome, Raju has certainly come up trumps on the personal leg of his trip.
Cool vibes to warm ties
Much like a long married couple, the Indo-US relationship has of late been a little adrift. While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is keen to push the relationship forward, New Delhi has been patiently waiting for President Barack Obama's regime to settle down for the second term. That India wants mutually beneficial relations with the US was evident when Singh gave visiting deputy secretary of state William Burns time last week, despite searing political temperatures on railgate and coalgate. The last US visitor that Singh met was then US defence secretary Leon Panetta last June. To push bilateral ties, US Secretary of State John Kerry is slated to visit India on June 22-23 for the annual strategic dialogue, and Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano is expected to accompany him. The two sides have lots to discuss: Pakistan under Nawaz Sharif, the Afghanistan pullout, Iran, China, investments, defence cooperation and homegrown terrorism. The talking points are in place.
One slot he just won't give up
After not being elevated to Cabinet rank, minister of state for chemicals and fertilisers Srikant Jena has sulked for at least two years. But it isn't just the Cabinet in which Jena is struggling to find place. In Shastri Bhawan, where his ministry is located, Jena's official car has been struggling to find parking space, with other official vehicles taking up the limited parking available in front of the building. But Jena and his team are not the kind to give up easily. They've had a word with the building administration, which has now put up big black-and-white hoardings, blocking a parking slot for the minister. He may need to wait for that Cabinet rank, but no one's denying Jena his parking.
A wealth of stealth in him
Congress senior AK Antony speaks little and is rarely adamant. But he has a knack of implementing political moves with extraordinary stealth. The coronation of Siddaramaiah as Karnataka's chief minister is the latest display of his acumen. While there has been a campaign against Siddaramaiah for he is a recent entrant into the Congress, his elevation was essential for the party's survival in the state. Antony executed that decision with finesse, leaving no space for any complaints. With the endorsement of the legislative party of the Congress, challengers have fallen silent. It is a relatively unknown fact that it was Antony's initial support that had enabled Siddaramaiah to join the Congress in 2007. Old links can stretch a very long way.