PAC a punch
Murli Manohar Joshi is a funny guy. Even as he was in the middle of a mini-controversy over his press conference as Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman, he took time out to crack a few jokes. He told reporters that news about his being the PAC chairman had created problems for him in his constituency. “Many people come to meet me and say: ‘Aap PAC head ban gaye hain; do teen ko bhartee to karva deejiye (You have become the PAC head; please give jobs to some people).” For those who didn’t get the joke: PAC in his Varanasi constituency in UP has a stronger resonance with the ‘notorious’ Provincial Armed Constabulary, a police force, the only PAC many in the state know of. Talk about Indo-PAC relations!
Making a Gunga din
The coming issue of the Congress’ publication Sandesh will carry speeches delivered by party president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders who spoke at the 83rd Burari plenary on December 19-20 last year. But the fiery speech of Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh has been censored. Apparently, Singh’s controversial “expiry date” remarks have been expunged from the speech at the behest of some senior party functionaries. In his speech, Singh took his name and those of other senior leaders whose “expiry date is nearing” while stressing that it was time for Rahul Gandhi to form his own team. We know about loyalty. But isn’t this a bit dire?
As Congress strategists speculate on the relations with the DMK, one memory haunts them no end — the experience of dealing with AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa on an earlier occasion. She has offered support to the Congress if it dumps the DMK. But Amma is also the one common factor that keeps the Congress and the DMK together. Despite all the irritants, the Congress says its equations with the DMK are intact. "I can pick up a phone and call Karunanidhi ten times a day. But with Amma it’s a different thing," a Congress troubleshooter said, adding, “She is very unpredictable and may not even take one call. Many times in the past, she had insisted on speaking to only Soniaji to sort out any alliance matter."
Cooking the R&AW
The new Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) chief Sanjeev Tripathi has really powerful backers, as the events of the last fortnight show. For him to become chief, many things had to fall in place, all at once, leading to speculations that he may not make it. Just a day before his retirement, Tripathi became head of the agency and got a tenure of two more years.
It’s been claimed in intelligence circles that his father-in-law, GS Bajpai, did some ‘environment management’ for his son-in-law. Bajpai also headed R&AW in the 90s. First, the incumbent R&AW chief KC Verma had to put in his papers a month ahead of his scheduled retirement, which he did. Apparently the PM was also not in favour of accepting Verma’s resignation. But ultimately he was also persuaded to accept it and make Tripathi the chief. That’s what we call some force.
Juggling the ministries of human resource development, telecommunications and science and technology isn’t the only task assigned to Kapil Sibal by the PM. He has also been picked to represent India at the January 26-30 meet of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, for the second time in quick succession. Traditionally, ministers holding important economic portfolios are picked to represent the country at the WEF. Sibal, with his convincing, lilting qualities is the man again.