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Keeping tabs on the political grapevine

india Updated: Sep 12, 2011 23:38 IST
Hindustan Times

Turning the wheels again
The 83-year-old LK Advani sprung a surprise on the BJP on the last day of the monsoon session of Parliament. Not only did he take the lead in the cash-for-votes scam by asking the government to arrest him along with the other BJP MPs who were reportedly offered bribes, but he also decided to go on another rath yatra, this time to try his hand at galvanising the Indian masses against corruption. Given his stature in the party neither the RSS nor the BJP could utter a word against him. Privately, they aren't pleased with the turn of events. The yatra, partymen believe, will only divert party resources and also divert attention from a UPA government on the mat in Delhi. But Advani, it seems, is on a roll.

A fishy silence
Whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh actually took a nibble of a hilsa at a banquet his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina had hosted for him in Dhaka last week remains a diplomatic secret. In an interview, Singh had promised to taste the iconic fish during the visit. A hilsa dish was indeed served for the PM, but apparently, given the complications of picking bones, he couldn't get around to tasting it at the formal banquet. But to admit that he didn't have a bite as he had promised could have proved to be a bone of contention. So it was decided to scale down the event.

Park at your peril
A row broke out between the driver of Union minister of state in the ministry of social justice and empowerment D Napolean and a policeman at Chennai airport over parking the DMK minister's car. With the change of regime in Chennai, the policeman objected to the driver parking the car at a VVIP parking slot. The minister, who was waiting to fly to Kochi, intervened to resolve the matter. Which DMK leader would want to get entangled with the administration in Tamil Nadu with chief minister J Jayalalithaa in the driver's seat?

Great wall round China
Army chief, General VK Singh, has apparently decided that he will visit all the countries that border China during his tenure. The Rajput Regiment officer has already visited Tajikistan, Bangladesh and has just returned from Mongolia. Singh, in his candid way, has forged personal bonds with his counterparts in Dushanbe and Dhaka. A consignment of parachutes, as required by the Mongolian Army, along with the offer of more training courses and bilateral exercises, was offered to Ulan Bator during Singh's four-day trip. Indian Army motorcycle riders put up a sterling show at the centenary celebrations of Mongolia's liberation (from China's Qing dynasty) with Singh exchanging notes with US Pacific Command top officials. Singhing a new tune here.

All in the family
Bollywood stars don't usually meddle in the affairs of Mumbai's Thackeray family. But Nana Patekar is made of sterner Marathi stuff and suggested a 'reunion' of estranged cousins Raj and Uddhav Thackeray. He stated that the cousins should come together for the sake of the Marathi people. But Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray had his own ideas: "I respect Nana, both as an artist and a person. But one should not poke his nose into things one doesn't understand." For Nana, that's a no.

Toning down in Kathmandu
The perks and trappings of an Indian ambassador to neighbouring countries can lead to some of them believing that they are latter-day viceroys. Take Rakesh Sood, our former ambassador in Nepal. He lorded over 55 acres of prime estate in the heart of Kathmandu, hobnobbing with the high and mighty. To add to this aura was an aggressive walkie-talkie-carrying posse of security personnel that made a habit of pushing onlookers to the wall as the diplomat passed by. But that's all over now with the arrival of the new ambassador to Kathmandu Jayant Prasad. The 59-year-old Prasad, a former ambassador to Afghanistan and Algeria, has decided to strip his security down to the bare minimum and made it clear to all Nepalese politicians that he is no kingmaker. South Block has appreciated the move, considering that after New Delhi's Bangladesh initiative, the next stops are Sri Lanka and Nepal. No more lofty Himalayan heights.

Members only
Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi came in for a rude shock a day before the National Integration Council (NIC) meeting on Saturday when a CRPF officer landed up at his residence with a special invitee card for him in the category of 'eminent persons'. Owaisi, president of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, is a member of the NIC headed by the PM. On hearing this, the officer then took back the card given to Owaisi. This angered the MP who then called up senior officers in the home ministry to know if he had been removed as a member just a day ahead of the meeting. The ministry officials apologised for the goof-up by the CRPF and immediately dispatched the member card to Owaisi. He played his cards right, it would seem.

First Published: Sep 12, 2011 23:36 IST