Will it be exit Jagan, enter Muraleedharan? (Capital Buzz)

February 13th, 2011 - 4:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, Feb 13 (IANS) Lose one son, gain another. That’s the buzz in the Congress with the likelihood of late K. Karunakaran’s son K. Muraleedharan being invited to rejoin the party ahead of the Kerala polls - compensation perhaps for the exit of Jaganmohan Reddy, son of the late Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.Still in shock from the electoral rout in Bihar and now battling a series of corruption scandals, the Congress is trying desperately to recover some ground in the south. It first roped in film star-turned-politician Chiranjeevi to shore up its numbers in Andhra Pradesh after Jaganmohan Reddy quit the party and Muraleedharan, or Murali as he is known, might be next.

Muraleedharan, a former president of the Kerala unit of the Congress and son of veteran Congress leader K. Karunakaran, who died recently, has been waiting for two years for the green signal from the Congress. He had left the Congress in 2005 along with father Karunakaran to form the Democratic Indira Congress in 2005.

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Gender justice please

Several women leaders of the Congress are eagerly waiting for the next cabinet reshuffle expected in May. Amongst those who wants higher representation for women is Girija Vyas, chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW), a former deputy minister in the union cabinet and an ex-president of the Rajasthan Congress.

She pleads her case on a cardinal point: women are discriminated against, even in the Congress. Girija has told the party leadership that her predecessor in the Pradesh Congress Committee, Ashok Gehlot, is the chief minister while her successor, C.P. Joshi, is a cabinet minister at the centre.

Others waiting in line for ministerial berths are spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan, AICC secretary Meenakshi Natarajan and Rajya Sabha member from Madhya Pradesh, Vijaylaxmi Sadho.

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BJP’s Kolkata Chalo plans

Most parties say “Dilli Chao” when planning demonstrations and rallies. But the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in poll mode and is headed towards Kolkata for a pre-election meeting on Feb 15.

“Kolkata Chalo”, the principal opposition party has told all its top leaders in Delhi, hoping for some impact in the elections in the state where it has no legislator. The party had last month begun its Ekta Yatra to Kashmir also from Kolkata. All with an eye on the May polls, of course.

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Makar Sankranti continues at AICC

Makar Sankranti may be over but the kite flying continues at the Congress headquarters, metaphorically if not literally.

The festival of kite flying on Jan 14 was supposed to herald the announcement of the new working committee and office-bearers of the Congress party. However, the list has yet to come and speculation is spiralling amongst journalists and staff at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters.

There is an atmosphere of uncertainty at 24 Akbar Road with party chief Sonia Gandhi, who lives the next door at 10 Janpath, facing new problems every day. Talk is that the list can be delayed till the cabinet reshuffle.

Kite flying, as we said, goes on.

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When air chief got ’solid rap’

Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik, known for his straight talk, has revealed that he once got a ’solid rap’ in his career.

Naik had hit the headlines in 2009 when he stated that Indian Air Force (IAF) had sought changes in the rules of engagement to fire back on Maoists in self-defence during joint operations with the paramilitary forces.

At a recent interaction with mediapersons, he was asked about the latest on the IAF’s request to the government. The IAF had already got permission to fire at Maoists in self-defence, he said.

“But when I spoke openly on the issue two years ago , I had got a solid phatka (rap),” he revealed.

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Faiz to Indian’s rescue?

Can poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, an icon of liberty, come to the rescue of an Indian languishing in a Pakistani jail? That, at least, is the suggestion of a Supreme Court judge in the case of petitioner Gopal Dass.

Dass, who is in a jail in Lahore for the past 25 years, has, through his brother, moved India’s Supreme Court for his release. The central government has for long maintained there was little it could do in the case of Dass as the matter concerns the Pakistani authorities.

During a hearing of the matter Feb 7, the court was told that the decision to release him now rests with a Pakistani diplomat. Reacting to this, Justice Markandey Katju said “go and recite some couplets of Faiz and the diplomat will awake to liberty and release Dass!”

The birth centenary of Faiz Feb 13 might have something to do with it.

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Driving down the vintage lane

The national capital’s passionate love affair with automobiles goes back to the British Raj when the sahibs and their Indian counterparts, the white collared babus, zipped down Lutyen’s Delhi in their Austins, Rolls Royce, Morris-Minors, Buick Sedans and sturdy Fords.

The last two weeks have been rather busy for moneybags and auto-buffs in the capital, who spent their leisure time polishing, renovating, oiling and test-driving their vintage auto-beauties for two major old automobile showcases - the Heritage Motoring Club of India’s Autojumble and the 45th Statesman Vintage & Classic Car Rally.

The busiest perhaps is Delhi lawyer Diljeet Titus, the owner of Pro Bono Publico, one of the country’s few vintage car museums. Titus has more than 70 vintage vehicles that require “24X7 attention” to keep them road-worthy. “It is quite a job,” he says. Agrees Fateh Singh Akoi, the owner of the capital’s Hotel Imperial, whose blue blue 1960s racy Jaguar model is always a show-stopper.

Delhi pools more then 200 vintage four-wheelers and nearly an equal number roof two-wheelers. And their proud owners are looking for land to build a heritage motor museum.

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Court vs jail

When politicians caught for corruption prefer jail to a review in court, it is time to worry. When former Kerala minister R. Balakrishna Pillai was sentenced to a year’s rigorous imprisonment in a corruption case by the Supreme Court Thursday, his initial reaction, it is learnt, was that he would go to jail rather than seek a review of the verdict.

His advisors apparently told him it was better to be behind bars (a’la Bihar’s ex-MPs Pappu Yadav and Mohammad Shahabuddin) and contest the polls in the name of a relative!

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