A shot in his own arm
Amid a strong buzz that he will be removed from the post in the next organisational reshuffle following the party’s stunning defeat in the recent assembly elections, Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh is embarking on a state-wide tour from September 2. In the first leg, he will visit seven places and meet party workers from different assembly segments in a bid to boost their sagging morale and rejuvenate the party ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. While his detractors claim that this is an attempt by him to delay his exit, Singh’s loyalists say the TINA (there is no alternative) factor could help him to stay on in the post till the 2014 polls. Hanging in there as captain of the ship.
All going for a song
Amid the ongoing political acrimony, the UPA and Opposition MPs, however, found time to sit together for a first-of-its-kind Bollywood musical for lawmakers. Shankar Mahadevan’s ‘Breathless’ prompted Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar to give it a standing ovation. Sonu Nigam’s rendering of Mohammed Rafi’s ‘Parda hai parda’ saw NDA veteran LK Advani and his family members clapping in rhythm. Shabana Azmi thwarted RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s plan to leave mid-way through the programme. AR Rahman wrapped up the programme with his Sufi hit ‘Kun Fayakun’ from the film Rockstar. Certainly hitting the right notes.
Branching out on his own
After initial goof-ups, home minister and leader of the house in the Lok Sabha Sushilkumar Shinde appears to be settling into his new roles. He is often seen reaching out to the leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj, the three Yadavs — Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad and Sharad Yadav — and the BSP’s Dara Singh Chouhan during the adjournments. He also exchanges a few words with the CPM’s Basudeb Acharya. He was quick to dismiss reports that NCP chief Sharad Pawar had opposed him becoming leader of the Lok Sabha. “He is my political guru. How can he crush the plant he had nurtured several years ago?” Shinde asked recently. Getting quite rooted here.
Say it like it isn’t
A bureaucrat whose duty it is to keep the calm in the North-east has done the opposite recently by stating that “Naga groups are acting as extortionists.” Shambhu Singh, a joint secretary in the home ministry, in-charge of the North-east region may have been right but his candour has offended some people. Former Nagaland minister and eight-time legislator TA Ngullie has now complained to the prime minister. Honesty is not the best policy.
Let’s hope it’s not a lemon
BJP president Nitin Gadkari wishes to contest the next Lok Sabha polls from Nagpur and he is doing all he can for the city of oranges. He got his foe-turned-friend, Maharashtra water resources minister Sunil Tatkare (NCP), to speed up the proposed inter-state Jamghat irrigation project between Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Though Tatkare is facing the heat from the BJP for his son’s alleged involvement in a land scam, he travelled with Gadkari in the same car for the project meeting last week. Gadkari initiated it and left before the officials and ministers from the two states got down to brasstacks. As the BJP is in power in MP, Gadkari breathed some life into the project, which was first proposed in 1997 but has been in limbo for 15 years now. A dam is to be built on the Kanhan river in MP’s Chhindwara district to block 10 trillion cubic feet (TMC) of water. Nagpur district will get all the water. Gadkari wants water from Jamghat for the BJP-controlled Nagpur Municipal Corporation to meet the future drinking water needs of the city. A fluid relationship it would seem.
Waiting to quiz him
The latest tussle in Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress seems to be between quizmaster-turned-MP Derek O’Brien and former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi. Recently Trivedi was searching for O’Brien in Parliament’s Central Hall to give him a piece of his mind on why his iPad-savvy colleague is over-enthusiastically and promptly conveying to Banerjee whatever Trivedi is saying to the Delhi media. O’Brien is unruffled as he currently enjoys the confidence of the party boss. He will be asking a few questions.