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Keeping tabs on the political grapevine

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar is apparently exploring the option of contesting from a new seat this time since things do not seem to be too encouraging for the Congress in Bihar.

india Updated: Apr 29, 2013 22:56 IST
Hindustan Times

A new speaker’s corner for her

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar is apparently exploring the option of contesting from a new seat this time since things do not seem to be too encouraging for the Congress in Bihar.

The former diplomat at present represents Sasaram which was also the constituency of her father and veteran leader Babu Jagjivan Ram who won eight times from there.

Sources in the Congress say that the party could put her up from Hoshiarpur in Punjab. Punjab incidentally has a huge Dalit population and the BSP supremo Kanshi Ram had also won from the state. If party insiders are to be believed, Meira is taking Punjabi lessons these days. No language barriers here.

Born to be politicians

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi spent several hours recently at the National Students’ Union of India. Addressing the gathering, Rahul made repeated references to senior leaders Ambika Soni, Ashok Gehlot and Mukul Wasnik and said that these functionaries had “Congress in their DNA’’.

During an informal interaction after the speech, Sonia Gandhi jokingly told one of the leaders that their DNA analysis has been done.

The other highlight of the conference was an exhibition of photographs from the Congress archives.

It is said that many leaders could not recognise their own photographs and wanted to know who was who in certain pictures.

They were taken aback when told that these were their pictures. The caption should have stated upfront: ‘The changing face of the Congress’.

Not taking things personally

“Hookah paani bandh karna” in military parlance means cutting all contacts with a brother officer. Many thought General VK Singh would be declared persona non grata for defence minister AK Antony after the former took the government to court over his date of birth issue.

But Antony separates his personal and professional relationship even though many within the Congress and the government wanted him to fire the former army chief when he was in the saddle.

To show that he has a soft spot for the combative Singh, Antony accepted the invitation to attend the wedding of Singh’s merchant banker daughter Yogja with Southern Army Commander Lt General Ashok Singh’s orthodontist son Anirudh.

Not only that, Antony has also earmarked time to attend Ashok Singh’s reception. He says that the law was against Singh on the age issue, not him. A warm degree of separation.

Singed by the dragon’s breath

Left to the government of the day, it would like to calibrate media coverage as per its own requirements. A classic case in the making is the ongoing Chinese incursion in the Ladakh sector.

Discreet investigations by government agencies have revealed that the leakage of details about the incursion first came from the ministry of external affairs and then it was the military which started giving out its versions with the government trying to keep a lid on things.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh played down the incursions by calling it a localised problem, the external affairs minister called it acne in need of ointment, but the Congress leadership knows the seriousness of the issue as no one has forgotten that the 1962 border skirmish began with a localised PLA incursion in Thag La in NEFA. Old habits die hard.

A round of patriot games

This past week saw a war on Twitter between supporters of junior HRD minister Shashi Tharoor and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal. At the core of the battle was a complaint lodged by the Congress to the Election Commission against the AAP for using the Indian flag in its rallies.

Tharoor, a vocal supporter of allowing Indians to display their patriotism and who frequently wears tricolour lapel pins on his shirts, became a target of Kejriwal’s supporters almost immediately. “Tiranga hamari shan hai, hum usko kameez me nahi lagaate hath me uthakar shan laharate hain (The tricolour is our pride, we don’t wear it on our shirts but carry it with pride in our hands),” AAP leader Sanjay Singh tweeted.

Others too joined the battle. Tharoor’s supporters hit back. “Who won the battle for flying of the tricolour as a fundamental right of every citizen?” one Tharoor supporter asked, addressing Kejriwal. “Navin Jindal, a Congressi.” Battle on who will keep the flag flying.

First Published: Apr 29, 2013 21:43 IST