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Keeping tabs on the political grapevine

All roads lead to 2014; the young Gandhi does seem to already have his finger firmly on the buzzer.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2013 23:13 IST
Hindustan Times

Student son shows the way

MM Pallam Raju is a worried man. Often stumped by the barrage of questions that teachers and parents have for him wherever he goes — parties and weddings included — the HRD minister has decided to ape the students whose education he seeks to better. In order to study his ministry’s policies, Raju now wakes up early each morning. This study-at-dawn scheme has made him empathise with his son more fully. At a recent event, he talked of his son waking up at six to keep up with his Hyderabad school’s curriculum. “I told him — son, now this is what I do … rise early and read up.” But like many students, Raju also seems to have faith in divine intervention. On the occasion of his birthday last week, he visited Tirupati and donated jaggery that equaled the 87 kg of his weight. Just a bucketful of sugar to help that education go down.

Power is where the action is

Both TKA Nair, who functions as an adviser to the Prime Minister, and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon are recognised as ministers of state. Even though this rank has not been given to the PM’s principal secretary Pulok Chatterji, the stature and influence he commands in the corridors of power is enviable. Through the day, key ministers can be seen driving in and out of Chatterji’s office. Coming in often to take stock, finance minister P Chidamba-ram is a regular fixture. It is only their seniority that keeps ministers such as AK Antony and Sharad Pawar away. It just takes one minute inside to know that power is more about a state of mind than about just being another minister of state.

Very careful whisper

Even a heart-wrenching speech by their new vice-president is sometimes not enough distraction for a few Congress leaders. As Rahul Gandhi finished his speech in Jaipur, much of the audience was looking for handkerchiefs to wipe their tears, and just as they stood to applaud his acceptance of the new role, one senior minister whispered to external affairs minster Salman Khurshid: “Salman, mera woh Haj quota zara dekh lena!” (Salman, please look after that Haj quota of mine!) A clear case of grabbing every opportunity by its ear.

This time, I didn’t say it

Shashi Tharoor is no stranger to being controversy’s child, but the minister of state for HRD is in no mood to take the blame for someone else’s casual remark. At the Jaipur Literature Festival, journalist Tarun Tejpal had likened the Chinese to Punjabis, but a publication wrongly attributed these words to Tharoor himself. The minister didn’t take long to call their actions irresponsible, sensational and sloppy. Tharoor, though, seems to have earned enough right to criticise the media. His tweets make it clear that unlike politicians, he reads stories that aren’t only about him. And with both his sons being journalists, his ire at the fourth estate seems only well felt. In the end, the comparison of the Chinese to Punjabis loses all of its steam when it has to be disowned so loudly.

All roads lead to 2014

Following the conviction of INLD leaders Om Prakash Chautala and son Ajay Chautala in the teachers’ recruitment scam, Rahul Gandhi asked about the developments in Haryana during his first meeting as Congress VP with office-bearers last week. “Ab aage kya hoga (what will happen now)?” he asked. Senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad replied that though the father-son duo could apply for bail, the damage had already been done to the main Opposition party in Haryana. The Congress is hopeful that the developments will help the party regain power for a third term in the state when the next assembly elections come around in 2014. The young Gandhi does seem to already have his finger firmly on the buzzer.