Calming the chief
While the consensus in the government is that army chief General VK Singh's claim of 1951 being his year of birth is not maintainable, it is equally concerned that Singh is not upset in the process. At least 10 days before the statutory complaint to this effect was rejected by the defence ministry, minister AK Antony called Singh over for a coffee meeting. Antony explained to Singh that his contention was going to be rejected and that would not be a reflection of any 'trust deficit' in the chief. After formally rejecting the complaint, Antony wrote a letter to the chief saying the same thing. The best form of offence, after all, is defence.
A tale of two covers
The Congress manifesto for the assembly polls in Punjab has been in striking contrast to that in Uttarakhand. The cover of the party manifesto for the Uttarakhand polls has pictures of Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi on it. State leaders figure only on the second page. In contrast, the front page of the Punjab Congress manifesto carried pictures of not only Sonia, Manmohan and Rahul but also that of state president Amarinder Singh, a clear indication who the boss in Punjab is. While there is no tradition in the Congress to declare chief ministerial candidates, Amarinder's photo on the cover seems to have settled the matter on this count.
Sinha to head NCTC?
Intelligence Bureau additional director DP Sinha is emerging as the front-runner for heading the proposed National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC). As of now, he is heading the sensitive operations wing of the Intelligence Bureau. Credited with busting the Indian Mujahideen and Hindu terror modules that were behind almost all urban bombings between 2005 and 2008, Sinha, a 1979 batch IPS officer, has the requisite experience and seniority to head the NCTC. Given the opposition the NCTC has faced so far, many in the country's security establishment feel that a low-key but effective officer like Sinha is best suited for the job.
Come all ye OBCs!
In trying to reach out to Other Backward Categories (OBSc) over the Centre's proposed reduction in their 27% central quota - to accommodate for the 4.5 % minority quota - the BJP has left no stone unturned to be seen as an OBC-friendly party. In fact, there has been an overdrive to show more OBC representation even at press conferences at the central party office.
So BJP leaders from the OBC community - none of them being a spokesperson - have addressed identical press conferences in New Delhi day after day to argue that the Centre has tried to divide the country along caste lines through this quota. The day when OBC leader Babu Singh Kushwaha was inducted in the party in Delhi - and not in Lucknow - it was the BJP's 'OBC face' Vinay Katiyar who began the press meet by starting on the OBC quota issue and then introducing Kushwaha. Days later, Uma Bharti, another OBC leader, was called to Delhi to address an identical press conference. After that, it was BJP national vice-president Bhupendra Yadav who was made to make the same points.
Clearly, even while addressing the Delhi media, the BJP was trying a Kurmi (Katiyar)-Lodh (Bharti)-Yadav (Bhupendra) combination to send across a strong message as the 'defender' of OBC quotas. So much for the party with a difference.