Just when we were wondering whether George W. Bushed India was still bhai-bhai with Iran, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna’s visit to Teheran has been deemed a success. One good reason could be that Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki is perhaps the only other foreign minister with whom Krishna can converse in Kannada. It turns out that Mottaki studied in Bangalore and is a fan of South Indian food. When Mottaki visited India last year, South Indian delicacies were ordered at his request. Incidentally, Krishna has replaced the usual sarkari tea with South Indian filter coffee for his guests at, you guessed it, South Block.
Return of the native
It seems that Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers M.K. Alagiri are not the only ministers playing hookie from their ministerial duties in the capital. Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister C.P. Joshi also rarely misses an opportunity to take a flight back home. Not only has Joshi ensured a substantial presence of Rajasthan cadre officers in his secretariat, but he also makes it a point to dash off to either Jaipur or Udaipur every other day. “Dr Joshi is the State Pradesh Congress Committee chief and President of the Rajasthan Cricket Association as well and needs to visit Rajasthan frequently for official work.” Says his loyal men. Well, of course.
Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily knows how to win friends if not so much to influence people. After months of cold relations, he has managed to befriend his predecessor H.R. Bhardwaj. At a ministry function recently, Moily showered praises on Bhardwaj, calling him his ‘guru’. The Karnataka governor was left with no option but to return the compliment. Bhardwaj, said Moily, is remembered as a good CM. There were many smiling faces among worried ones as ministry officials were left calculating their fortunes based on their ‘leanings’ during the past one year.
Game for more
Sixty-two-year-old Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar, who has been in office since June 2007, is likely to get another six-month extension. The buzz is that the prime minister wants him around till December to monitor the Commonwealth Games in October this year. A 1970 batch officer, Chandrasekhar is already on a year’s extension, which will expire on June 12. That may, however, mean that all the 1972 batch IAS officers (including Finance Secretary Ashok Chawla) will retire by the time his term ends. Chandrasekhar’s successor, then, is likely to be Pulok Chatterjee, a 1974 batch officer from the UP cadre. Chatterjee, who was secretary to Sonia Gandhi when she was leader of the Opposition, is now a World Bank executive director in Washington, having served in the PMO during UPA 1 before moving to the US. Let the games begin.
Lost at home
Home Minister P. Chidambaram does not allow any escort car to accompany him when he moves around in Delhi. He doesn’t like the official expenditure and bandobast. So when he had to visit a TV studio, he didn’t expect that his no-frills would come in the way of him reaching the place in time. His official car lost its way in the evening rush in South Delhi. He finally made it 30 minutes later after some phone calls. Poor thing.