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Keeping tabs on the political grapevine

On March 29, junior human resource development minister Shashi Tharoor was taking a leisurely stroll on Thiruvananthapuram’s Sangumukham beach at the start of the long weekend.

india Updated: Apr 01, 2013 23:23 IST
Hindustan Times

The illuminating politics of power
On March 29, junior human resource development minister Shashi Tharoor was taking a leisurely stroll on Thiruvananthapuram’s Sangumukham beach at the start of the long weekend. Despite the salubrious backdrop of the Arabian Sea, politics it would seem was not far from his mind. As the evening darkened, Tharoor noticed that the lights on the beach front weren’t working. Tharoor, the MP from the city, has been telling friends and constituents about how he promptly called up the city’s mayor to complain, and to demand that the lights be fixed. And all this in the public interest? Well, the mayor — an advocate, K Chandrika — belongs to the Opposition Left. Enlightened self-interest then?

From the Mahatma to music
South Mumbai MP and minister of state for telecommunications Milind Deora is among the rare breed of politicians equally comfortable in the world of Mahatma Gandhi and rapper Jay Z. In July 2012, when Arvind Kejriwal was on a fast at Jantar Mantar, demanding that the activists’ version of the Lokpal Bill be adopted by Parliament, Deora, the son of former petroleum minister Murli Deora, quoted Gandhi in what was seen by his vast numbers of supporters on social media platforms as a criticism of Kejriwal. “It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence,” Deora tweeted then, quoting the Father of the Nation. But Deora isn’t just a politician — an able guitarist, the MP loves his music. So few were surprised when on March 25, he switched from non-violence to rap. “Just know I chose my own fate. I drove by the fork in the road and went straight,” Deora tweeted, quoting rapper and music producer Jay Z. He doesn’t speak with forked tongue.

Not the photo finish he wanted
Congress MP Pradip Balmuchu recently earned the wrath of SP MP and filmstar Jaya Bachchan when he took a photo of her with his mobile phone in the Rajya Sabha. And the incident continues to haunt him. Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, who never misses a chance to take potshots even at his own party colleagues, went for a political rally in Jharkhand where Balmuchu was also present. And Ramesh started his speech, saying: “First of all, I would request my friend Balmuchuji to switch off his mobile phone so that he doesn’t click my picture.” Clearly, he was not speaking in camera.

He is pulling no punches
Senior Mumbai Congress leader Vasant Nanavare, who had launched a bitter attack on Maharashtra in-charge Mohan Prakash in the presence of Rahul Gandhi, has now called a meeting of “party loyalists” on April 3. Nanavare had stumped Rahul during a meeting in Mumbai last month when he said the Congress is now being controlled by outsiders and loyalists have been sidelined. Pointing to Prakash, Nanavare had said that some people, who had in the past criticised Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and other top leaders, were occupying important posts in the party hierarchy. His latest move has left the central leadership in a bind over a demand from certain quarters for taking tough action against him. Offence seems the best form of offence.

Not taking no for an answer
The Congress leaders, it seems, are in mood to accept Rahul Gandhi’s stated reluctance to become the PM in 2014. A senior Congress minister in Andhra Pradesh Raghuveera Reddy said that they would lift and carry Rahul Gandhi to place him on the PM’s throne, if he says no to the post in the event of a Congress’ victory. “We cannot force him to lead a married life, but we shall definitely compel him to be the prime minister,” Reddy said. Reddy perhaps might like to concentrate on rejuvenating the party in the state, which has sent over 30 MPs in succession to Parliament but is in a sorry state now. A crown of thrones for him.

There’s no easy way out
The government’s bid to keep Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar in good humour boomeranged slightly with the Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia saying that granting special status to Bihar would be difficult. Ahluwalia had realised that accepting Bihar’s demand will not be possible unless all chief ministers agree to it, something which is highly improbable. So, he accepted that granting special status to Bihar will not be easy. Realising its adverse political implications, the seasoned economist was quick to add that the issue was under the government’s consideration. But, he was not able to give the time by when a decision would be made on Bihar’s demand. We can look forward to more status updates.