Buying into the Kashmiri dream
During his recent visit to Kashmir, home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde did something which none of his predecessors had done since the early 1990s — stop and shop at Lal Chowk, the political and business nerve centre of Srinagar. This area has notched up the highest number of casualties due to militancy over the past 22 years. Shinde took everyone by surprise when he stopped at a Kashmir arts showroom in the city to shop for his family. Chief minister Omar Abdullah lent him a helping hand. The home minister also bought apples and later took a round of the once dreaded Ghanta Ghar (Clock Tower). Shinde’s immediate predecessor P Chidambaram had taken a round of some parts of the old city (known as downtown Srinagar) in July last year. Well, Shinde was also shopping for peace accessories, it would seem.
A bitter pill to swallow
Though Punjab’s deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal attacked Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi for his statement that seven out of 10 youth in the state are addicted to drugs, his father and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal appears to have taken the remark quite seriously. Badal senior has asked spiritual leaders to play a proactive role in curbing the menace of drugs in the state. He has also urged the Centre to impose an immediate ban on the sale of poppy husk in neighbouring Rajasthan from where it finds its way into Punjab. He also demanded setting up a second line of defence on the international border to check drug trafficking. Trying to stop them getting hooked.
All a-twitter about many things
Undeterred by recent instances of politicians getting singed by the social media, road minister CP Joshi, also handling the railways as additional charge, has decided to go the whole hog and increase his presence on the social media platform. Joshi’s team is busy these days providing a makeover for his old website and making it more interactive. To reach out to a wider audience, the website, both in Hindi and English, is also connected to Facebook and Twitter. Joshi has also started to tweet, though not very frequently. From railway platform to social media platform.
No wait and watch policy here
BJP president Nitin Gadkari has an unconventional style of making political speeches that sometimes takes people by surprise. Gadkari, who has been a member of the legislative council in Maharashtra rather than an MLA or MP, addresses the public as if he’s already a Lok Sabha MP. At Deoband, he told the audience of west Uttar Pradesh farmers what he did in Maharashtra, even using the word “Lok Sabha kshetra” (Lok Sabha constituency) towards the end of his speech. The reason perhaps was that he plans to contest the next Lok Sabha poll from Nagpur, or from Wardha, and has also been told by pollsters that he’s set to get 50% of the minority and Dalit votes. However, many felt that he could have waited for his name to be announced as a candidate, if not until he had actually won the election. Thinking several steps ahead.
IIT will make a real difference
Kerala Congress leaders have been publicly voicing their differences with the party’s central leadership over the introduction of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the retail sector. So, as part of a move to both mend fences and create a lobby of supporters for FDI, the PMO, led by TKA Nair, is now trying to see if the Centre can start an IIT in the state. State leaders — both in the UDF and the LDF — have been demanding an IIT for some years now, but the Planning Commission decided against it. Kerala already has an IIM in Kozhikode. But with a little bit of luck, and a pinch of politics, it may just get an IIT too. The detail before the retail.
No credit where none is due
Who’s powerful among the BJP’s general secretaries? Until a few months ago, it was Ananth Kumar. But, with Karnataka on the boil and former CM BS Yeddyurappa about to split the party, his role appears eclipsed. Instead, a Pramod Mahajan lookalike, Dharmendra Pradhan, is on the rise. But his detractors point out that the BJP won the Tehri Lok Sabha seat after he was divested of charge of Uttarakhand. They credit Shah Nawaz Hussain’s campaign among Muslim voters for turning tide against Saket Bahuguna, CM Vijay Bahuguna’s son, and in favour of Mala Raj Laxmi of the Tehri royal family. From inner circles to the periphery.