Keeping tabs on the political grapevine.india Updated: Aug 22, 2011 21:19 IST
Much to the envoy of others
On Sunday, Indian ambassador-designate to the US Nirupama Rao and former home secretary Gopal Pillai were given a farewell by World Tourism Council. Rao told the gathering that she was going to take over in Washington on September 5, 2011.
As a part of a chain of critical diplomatic assignments, the much-awaited move of Jayant Prasad as India’s ambassador to Nepal takes place on August 25. But London will remain vacant for now as Nalin Surie, the former Indian high commissioner to Britain, was refused six months’ extension before he demitted office on July 31, 2011.
While Rao is going to take on the high-profile job in Washington, the Obama administration is still to appoint a permanent ambassador to India with Peter Burleigh being only a stop-gap envoy. A few IFS and buts here.
A R&AW deal for some
The winds of change are blowing in India’s external intelligence agency, the R&AW, with chief Sanjeev Tripathi stressing that the primary job of spies was to collect intelligence and not conduct diplomacy. He has quietly passed on the message that agents going to high voltage parties will be viewed adversely and that Indian spies should remain below the social radar.
As a part of his plans, the R&AW chief has proposed changes in the personnel policy with a plan to set up a core team of young officers who will not only remain under cover but also not be seen at all in the diplomatic cocktail circuit. It’s certainly an intelligent decision.
From President to PM
The PM’s media adviser Harish Khare had a chance encounter with BJP president Nitin Gadkari in a Parliament corridor last week. Khare complimented Gadkari for his style and “free and frank views”. Gadkari smiled and thanked him.
Without stopping there, Khare told Gadkari that he would make the best prime ministerial candidate. This could raise some girth, sorry mirth, in the ranks.
All a matter of principal
The hallowed Delhi Gymkhana Club has been a haunt of babus and babu-watchers in the past. Last week it saw Pulok Chatterjee, principal secretary-designate to the prime minister, having a quiet tête-à-tête with his senior and successor-designate in the World Bank Mukesh Prasad just before the crowds gathered for lunch.
Prasad, who has been secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), was sharing notes with Pulok, who takes over the PMO on October 3, 2011 with incumbent TKA Kutty Nair being kicked upstairs as adviser to the prime minister. Now Chatterjee was on a familiarisation trip even though he has worked as additional secretary in the PMO before he was appointed executive director, World Bank.
Watching the two powerful babus talk, many wished Chatterjee best of luck. He replied that he needed all the luck he can get. And all the advice he can get.
Designed to arouse interest
Pakistan’s youngest and first woman foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, who got people talking about her impeccable style during her Delhi visit, met senior BJP leader LK Advani at her insistence. That’s the disclosure from Advani in his latest book of blogs, As I See It.
She was scheduled to meet only Sushma Swaraj because she’s the leader of the Opposition. But the Pakistan high commission wrote to Advani, saying Khar wished to meet him and he, of course, readily agreed.
For a change, Advani said he “didn’t protest against either cross-border terrorism, or against her meeting with the Kashmiri separatists (that was left to Swaraj).” However, he gave her an account of why the Agra summit failed and how Pakistan’s “obsession” with Kashmir is because of its army.
What did she say? Advani is silent on that score. Perhaps, she just smiled and left? The ‘heeling’ touch, quite clearly.
A very friendly gesture
Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh left many in the Congress red-faced during his recent three-day visit to Orissa by calling chief minister Naveen Patnaik his ‘good friend’.
Ramesh went on to say that “he [CM] snubs me and at the same time praises me”. Senior state leaders raised the issue at a meeting with Ramesh at Congress Bhavan in Bhubaneswar. Among them, Suresh Kumar Routray forcefully objected to such public expression of friendship, saying this would affect the party in the state.
On his part, Ramesh explained that personal friendship and political rivalry are altogether different things and assured them he would soon visit Orissa again and strongly raise the issue of corruption in the state. He was not to be nipped in the buddy.