Lok Sabha gallery awash with white veshtis on budget day

February 29th, 2008 - 8:24 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of P. Chidambaram

New Delhi, Feb 29 (IANS) It looked as if the enthusiasm among people from Tamil Nadu to hear a fellow Tamilian, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, present the union budget has not waned over the years. The visitors’ gallery in the Lok Sabha Friday was awash with white veshti(dhoti)-and shirt-clad men from the southern states, all eagerly listening as Chidambaram presented his seventh budget.

The gallery was full and many were standing behind the last row of seats to hear him. When the budget presentation was over, they were eagerly discussing among themselves on what a great budget “anna” (elder brother) had presented.

Chidambaram’s family was also present in full strength. His wife Nalini Chidambaram, a leading lawyer, was there as were son Kartik, his wife Srinidhi, her sister and other family members. They were seated in the speaker’s gallery.


Chidambaram, despite all his American education (he has studied at Harvard), remains rooted in tradition in his sartorial preferences. He has always stuck to his white veshti and full-sleeved shirt with a cream shawl folded around his shoulder.

Flanked by his two ministers of state, S.S. Palani Manickam and Pawan Kumar Bansal, Chidambaram patiently posed for a battery of photographers and cameramen before he walked into the house with his shining brown leather briefcase firmly in grasp.

Since Chidambaram is the focus of the nation on this day, and the TV cameras are just focussed on him for the nearly two-hour budget presentation, there is always a rush among ministers to grab the seat right behind him and beside him.

This time the vantage seats were taken over by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath and Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal.


BJP MPs short of ammunition

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s populist budget has left many in the opposition with too little to crib about. When asked to react, a woman BJP MP said: “What is there to react on such a good budget? Actually, we do not have anything to say.”

But she was quick to add: “But don’t worry. We will soon dig out something to criticize in it!”


Was Maran, Jayalalitha’s messenger to Gandhi?

Former cabinet minister Dayanidhi Maran, who is now in the bad books of uncle and mentor DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi, reportedly met Congress president Sonia Gandhi this week. According to Congress party sources, Maran wanted Gandhi to tell the Tamil Nadu chief minister not to harass him.

However, another motive behind his visit was apparently to act as a go-between with AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalitha, with whom he has grown close of late.

Jayalalitha, former Tamil Nadu chief minister, had a bitter parting of ways with the Congress when she became close to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the late 1990s. Jayalalitha has been trying to build her bridges with the Congress ever since the party came to power in 2004.

A majority of Congressmen in Tamil Nadu are said to be in favour of aligning with the AIADMK rather than the ruling DMK. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is also believed to have a good rapport with Jayalalitha. At least a section of the Congress leaders hope that Maran’s moves would fructify in a re-alignment.

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