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The buzz: keeping tabs on the political grapevine

For Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, the ruling BJP’s victory in the upcoming assembly elections in his state is a foregone conclusion.

india Updated: Nov 19, 2012 23:24 IST

He’ll be dishing it out
For Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, the ruling BJP’s victory in the upcoming assembly elections in his state is a foregone conclusion. This year, Modi could not invite media-persons for lunch on Gujarati New Year at his official residence as it would be a breach of the model code of conduct. Instead, the Gujarat BJP hosted the media fraternity. Certain of his victory, Modi promised journalists at the function that he will meet them again for lunch on the birthday of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on December 25 at the chief minister’s official bungalow in Gandhinagar. Significantly, the results of the two-phased elections — December 13 and 17 — in Gujarat will be declared on December 20. Making things more palatable.

What was fixed stays fixed
MM Pallam Raju, who took over as human resource development minister on October 28, has spent a good chunk of his time since then attending to appointments fixed by his predecessor Kapil Sibal till the day before the Cabinet reshuffle. Though it is common after reshuffles for new ministers to cancel or reschedule appointments fixed by the person who was in office earlier, Raju, known for his courtesy, specifically instructed his staff not to do so. Not reshuffling appointments.

It’s Kerala calling now
onstituency and in New Delhi isn’t easy for a Lok Sabha MP also appointed a central minister. But minister of state for human resource development Shashi Tharoor will now have plenty of time for his constituency, Thiruvananthapuram. Despite the prime minister asking Cabinet ministers to give work to their deputies, HRD minister MM Pallam Raju has assigned Tharoor, an accomplished author and former undersecretary general at the United Nations, only tasks related to framing papers, answering questions in Parliament, and attending public meets — with no policy-related work. This is in stark contrast to Raju’s other deputy, Jitin Prasada, who has been assigned the politically crucial task of looking after minority education. Some time out for him.

A rise in fortunes
The inclusion of Madhusudan Mistry in the Rahul Gandhi-led coordination committee for the next Lok Sabha elections has come as a surprise to many in the Congress. Mistry, who is known for social work as his NGO Disha (Developing Initiatives for Social and Human Action) supports grassroots groups and tribals, is a clear Rahul Gandhi favourite. In the last AICC reshuffle, he was inducted into the powerful Congress Working Committee (CWC) and appointed general secretary in charge of Kerala and Karnataka. Apart from Mistry, the meteoric rise of Mohan Prakash in the party has also left many tongues wagging. The rise of Prakash, considered an outsider in the Congress as he came from the erstwhile Janata Dal, is again attributed to his growing proximity to Rahul Gandhi. Growth by association.

Still on a learning curve
Telecom minister Kapil Sibal may no longer be human resource development minister in charge of the nation’s education, but the sector remains close to his heart — and Sibal has decided to stay in touch through the telecom ministry. Sibal, a keen believer in the potential of technology to tackle social challenges, is spending more time in pushing for fibre optic connectivity among colleges than any former telecom minister, officers at the ministry of communications and information technology say. And that isn’t all. He’s also keeping close tabs on the Aakash tablet project, which saw its second avatar released on November 11 by President Pranab Mukherjee. Sibal now wants to tie up with HRD ministry organisations to offer software akin to the Kindle on the Aakash, especially for Urdu readers. You can take him out of the education ministry, but you can’t take education out of Sibal.