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The buzz

Keeping tabs on the political grapevine.

india Updated: Jun 03, 2013, 22:44 IST
Hindustan Times

She’s not quite in the political fray
It is virtually certain that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will not contest from Rae Bareilly during the next parliamentary polls. Instead her mother Sonia Gandhi who is the sitting MP from the seat shall once again seek re-election. According to political grapevine, Priyanka recently told a veteran Uttar Pradesh politician that it was the family’s decision to field her mother and she will have to perhaps wait for another day. Speculation about her candidacy from the seat once represented by her grandparents — the late Feroze and Indira Gandhi had started since she has been spending a lot of time in Rae Bareilly. It was being said that Sonia would move to the Rajya Sabha. Obviously, the family does not want the two siblings to fight from adjoining seats. It’s all in the family.

Quite a lot of bite in this one
There were compliments flying all over for planning commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia’s dentist for a quick-fix act he did for him to return to chair a session at a workshop in the Capital last week. Ahluwalia left the event after delivering his inaugural address as he had an appointment with his dentist. He was not sure whether he would be able to return on time to chair a question-answer session about an hour later saying the man who deals with his teeth takes a lot of time. When Ahluwalia returned within 45 minutes, Guy Standing, a professor from the University of London, quipped, “This session belongs to Montek’s dentist.” It appeared that the dentist had done a good job as Ahluwalia was at ease answering tough questions on the controversial cash transfer scheme for the poor. No teething problems here.

Is he playing to the gallery?
If Andhra Pradesh politicians are to be believed, during his interaction with former APCC president K Keshava Rao, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad who is in charge of the state party unit dropped enough hints regarding the creation of a separate Telangana state. He is understood to have told Rao that since the party position in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema was a cause of worry, the formation of Telangana was the only way, the Congress could consolidate its position. Rao did not buy the argument since he joined the TRS on Sunday. Many are wondering if there was substance in what Azad said or it was just a ploy to keep the flock together.

Chugging along the right track
Soon after his visit to Japan last year, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in his inimical style got into hard selling the idea of his state having high speed trains, for which Japan is famous for. During the recent visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Japan, a joint feasibility study for a Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed train line was launched. The government is in two minds about going full throttle on the huge capital-intensive high-speed trains in India. But politicians like external affairs minister Salman Khurshid and a few other Congress leaders want the idea of high-speed trains being implemented in many parts of India to defuse the advantage Modi might take out of it if the project — or an idea of it — becomes a Gujarat-centric one. Keeping on track of this one.

Finger on your lips
Members of the Congress panel for television debates were issued gag orders by senior leaders at their introductory meeting last week. Senior leaders warned them that the details of the meeting should not be leaked to media under any circumstance. A senior leader apparently told them that details about Congress Working Committee and Cabinet meetings are out within 10 minutes and they should not repeat this sort of thing. Obeying orders, the panel members did not answer any phone calls after the meeting that evening. Young members were in particular told that the leadership would be monitoring their performance and conduct on a regular basis.

There’s full faith in him for now
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s key aide Sachin Rao may not be extremely popular among his colleagues but clearly he enjoys the confidence of his boss. While Kanishka Singh handles the appointments and programmes of the young Gandhi, Rao’s work mostly consists of providing inputs on various issues to Rahul Gandhi. Dismissive of Rao’s approach towards key issues, a section of the party had tried to point out that he lacks hardcore political instinct and tends to ignore diverse views. But Gandhi seems to have full faith in Rao and reportedly said in close quarters that Rao’s unpopularity proves he is on the right path and doing his job well. Rao is indeed riding the wave right.

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