One more shot at dynasty politics? (Capital Buzz)

July 25th, 2010 - 4:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) If the mother-son duo of Sonia Gandhi-Rahul Gandhi and Maneka Gandhi-Varun Feroz Gandhi top the list of political family heirs in the Lok Sabha, why should Ajit Singh-Jayant Singh lag behind?
Ajit, former union minister and son of late prime minister Charan Singh, is in talks with the Congress leadership for a tie-up. Ajit Singh is living up to his reputation as a hard bargainer. Sources say Ajit wanted cabinet berths for both him and his 31-year-old son Jayant, who represents the Mathura constituency.

Ajit supporters from the prosperous western Uttar Pradesh farm belt say the Singhs are also from a former prime minister’s family with wide influence in the Harith Pradesh region (a new state demanded by Ajit Singh) and should be rewarded suitably. If the talks progress, Jayant may find a place in the Rahul brigade rather than in Manmohan Singh’s cabinet, say Congress sources.

The BJP is watching this curious alliance-making with ill-concealed anger. Ajit Singh and the four other MPs of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) were elected in the 2009 polls with BJP support.


Krishna-Chidambaram bhai bhai!

North Block and South Block are working hard to project a picture of bonhomie after the blame game that followed the India-Pakistan talks.

This week, two occasions provided a perfect opportunity to Home Minister P. Chidambaram and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to meet and clear the air over Home Secretary G.K. Pillai’s comments ahead of the India-Pakistan talks.

The cabinet meeting Thursday and the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security next day saw the two senior ministers amiably chatting, belying media reports of turf battle. Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao walked across the road to North Block for tea and talk with Pillai.

So, all is well on the North-South front!


Did media spoil Indo-Pak talks?

The post-mortem of the July 15 talks between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan continues to breed conspiracy theories and inspired guesswork. While some analyses in the Indian media focus on the Pakistan military’s role in sabotaging the talks, mandarins in South Block, the seat of the external affairs ministry, are blaming the media.

Insiders are also baffled by the decision to hold a joint press conference in Islamabad when there was nothing much to announce. Even more intriguing is the casual way the press conference was allowed to extend beyond two questions by each side that provided Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi a platform to pander to domestic constituency in Pakistan by raking up issues of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir and the alleged Indian role in unrest in Balochistan.

“We are not equating media with the Pakistani military. But you guys are powerful and thrive on bad news,” said a diplomat testily.


New Year, new wife for Tharoor?

New year, and new wife. The Malayalam media is abuzz with reports about Shashi Tharoor planning to marry his long-time companion Sunanda Pushkar on Aug 17, which is Malayalam New Year’s Day.

Newshounds from the Kerala media say the Tharoor-Pushkar marriage will be solemnized at an auditorium in the Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, built by the royal family of Travancore. While the media is full of details about the impending marriage in town, his official biography on the parliament website shows that the former UN diplomat has not divorced his Canadian wife Christa.

The Thiruvananthapuram MP’s parliament record still carries Christa Tharoor’s name against a column for that of his spouse. And Tharoor himself is keeping mum - and far away from the media.

This is not the first time that rumours of his marriage to Pushkar have surfaced since news of his romantic link up with the Dubai-based businesswoman made news after the IPL Kochi row.


Tharoor not ready to be history

He may have ceased to be a minister, but the suave Shashi Tharoor is clearly not history, a subject he says he loved as a student at St. Stephen’s College.

A high-profile book launch at the French ambassador’s residence saw Tharoor make a surprise appearance after a prolonged absence from the capital’s literati circuit. With the paparazzi flashing cameras, the French ambassador introduced him as a “celebrity”.

The man who scandalised many in the government with his revealing tweets was, however, at his restrained best. He promised he would attend the parliament session every day through the week when asked by journalists if he would “remain about town”. The minister was even invited to a dinner at The Hyatt by friends post-launch.


Kalmadi confident of CWG

Beleaguered Commonwealth Games Organising Committee secretary-general Suresh Kalmadi is probably the only person in the capital who remains gung-ho about a successful Games in October, the profusion of doomsayers notwithstanding. And he should know what he is talking about, unless it is typical political bluster.

At a book launch event during the week, Kalmadi belaboured the point that preparations are going swimmingly well, stadiums would be ready on time and top athletes would participate. “Either you believe me, or you believe the media,” was his refrain.

While releasing the book “India- For a Billion Reasons” (Wisdom Tree), he even quipped: “After the Commonwealth Games, you will have reason to bring out a book “Commonwealth - For a Billion Reasons.”

It was another thing that the capital’s sceptics did not force a smile.

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Congress ex-servicemen do not support Army chief’s remarks

Union minister Farooq Abdullah, who took exception to army chief General V. K. Singh’s remarks about the political leadership in Jammu and Kashmir not having built on the gains made by security forces, found support from unexpected quarters.

The ex-servicemen department of the Congress came out in support of Abdullah, saying the army chief should not have made political remarks. But the department tried to soften its disapproval by coming out with an explanation for the general’s remarks.

Congress secretary Capt Praveen Davar said that Singh had taken over as army chief a few months ago and being new to New Delhi’s corridors of power, perhaps, needed time to settle down.

Davar’s remarks also implied that the Congress, which has been part of the coalition government in the state for nearly eight years, did not want any finger-pointing for the present at the situation in the state where Abdullah’s son Omar is the chief minister.

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Monsoon blues for aspiring MPs

Some of the MPs are sure to look a trifle dejected when the monsoon session of parliament opens Monday. They were hoping to strut ministerial cars with the buzz of a pre-session cabinet reshuffle doing the rounds, but now will have to do with their private cars or parliament vehicles.

The ministerial hopefuls of Congress and UPA allies were keeping their mobile phones on all the time for that fateful ring from the Prime Minister’s Office. Many even cancelled their luxury holiday plans abroad, leaving their wife and kids sulking.

No swearing-in for now, but swear words from the holiday-starved wife!


Unfair to fair sex?

National Commission for Women chairperson Girija Vyas has been pitching for the rights of Indian women for the past five years. Now, Vyas, a four-term Lok Sabha MP, is raising her voice for her right to become a minister again. Her supporters are subtly lobbying for her, telling the Congress high command that she has been sidelined to a minor post.

Nineteen years ago, Vyas was appointed a deputy minister in P.V. Narasimha Rao’s cabinet. She is a former president of the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee. While another ex-RPCC president Ashok Gehlot has been made chief minister, the current state PCC chief C.P Joshi is union minister for rural development. This is quite unfair to the

fair sex, Vyas’ supporters complain.

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