By Nora Chopra
The Race to Rashtrapati Bhawan is likely to intensify in the coming weeks. The Vice President Hamid Ansari continues to be the front runner as an ailing Mulayam Singh Yadav also puts in his hat in the race for the country’s top post. Hectic lobbying has begun to make the SP chief the President of India but he can even settle for the Vice President’s post if things do not work out in his favour. Mulayam Singh Yadav is not willing to wait till 2014 to become the PM. He would rather be President. Hectic lobbying was on display to make Mulayam the President at the dinner hosted by Sanjay Dalmia in SP chief’s honour. The guest list included leaders from all parties including Congress minister P Chidambaram and NCP’s PA Sangma. Dalmia an industrialist and a one time financier of Samajwadi Party is lobbying on behalf with leaders of other parties. Two weeks ago Mulayam sent Kiranmoy Nanda a former Bengal minister in LF government and now a Rajya Sabha MP to Mamata Banerjee to seek her support. Mamata is said to have assured him of the support in lieu of his support against the Congress on certain crucial issues close to her heart. He is equally confident of the left support. Dalmia whose father was president of Vishwa Hindu Parishad is close to the BJP. But the Congress is unlikely to agree to support Mulayam Singh Yadav for President’s post but bargain a deal with him for Vice President.
SALMAN KHURSHID IS FACING PARTY FLAK OVER UP RESULTS
Salman Khurshid, the law and justice minister who also has dual charge of minority affairs is the latest fall guy of the Congress. After his wife lost her deposit in the recently concluded assembly polls from Farrukhabad in Uttar Pradesh, pressure has mounted on Congress President Sonia Gandhi to divest him of at-least the minority affairs portfolio as he is not suitable to hold that post. But not stopping at that, complaints have also been lodged against him on his role as corporate affairs minister the last portfolio he held before the reshuffle. It is said that he was moved out of corporate affairs because of those allegations that he gave clean chits to certain industrialists in a controversial case. If the grapevine in the corridors of power is to be believed even as Law Minister he is alleged to be playing for the corporate lobby in the appointment of the new law secretary after DR Meena retires this month. B A Agarwal member secretary law commission of India who is set to succeed Meena is said to have the blessings of the ministers wife and of two top Londonbased industrialists – Anil Agarwal of Vedanta Group and Laxmi Kant Mittal.
HAMID ANSARI STARTS ACTIVE LOBBYING
For the past two months, two probable presidential candidates Gopal Krishna Gandhi and Hamid Ansari have been touring India and meeting chief ministers. While all these are official tours, the sheer timing has made it significant. Ansari has attended programmes in Chennai, Bhubaneswar and Ahmedabad where he has met Jayalalithaa, Naveen Patnaik and Narendra Modi. In fact he was to stay in Gujarat for three days but then he extended his visit by two more days as he wanted to visit the Gir Forests. Similarly Gopal Krishna Gandhi who is based in Chennai had met the Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa and even Nitish Kumar. Gandhi is distinctly related to Naveen Patnaik and enjoys extremely cordial relations with the Orissa CM. He has full support of Mamata also. Recently he was offered a job in Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata which he declined as he wants to keep himself free.
MAHARASHTRA PCC CHIEF IN SWOOP
The Maharashtra PCC chief Manik Rao Thakre is all set to be changed. Thakre is being held responsible for the party’s performance in the Zila Parishad elections where NCP joined hands with the BJP to stall the Congress from coming to power in the Vidharba region. But in the corporation elections, Vilas Rao Deshmukh and Naresh Pugulia ex MP managed to get the party elected in full majority in their respective constituencies of Latur and Chanderpur, the home town of the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. Both Pugilia and Deshmukh have complained of sabotage from Thakre to the party high command.
CHADAMBARAM FORCED TO GREET JAYALALITHAA
It was nearly after twenty years that Home Minister P Chidambaram came face to face with the Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa and ice was broken between them when he was forced to do namaste to her in Vigyan Bhawan at the chief ministers meeting on internal security. Before the meeting started, the home minister went about to all the chief ministers to greet them beginning from the first row. Jayalalithaa was sitting in the fifth row as per the alphabetical order. After he finished the fourth row he went back without greeting her. But suddenly he was nudged by the Home Ministry IO and was told that he has missed the Tamil Nadu CM. Poor Chidambaram had no option but to go to her. He folded his hands on reaching near her but she kept sitting till he reached her She too had no option but to stand and reciprocate his greetings without a smile. She stopped talking to PC when he as finance minister in Gowda government had got disproportionate assets cases opened against her.
NOVEL WAY OF KEEPING AWAY MAOISTS
The Orissa government has found a novel way to keep the Maoists away from attacking the state police. In the police stations near the forests, where Maoists roam around, no fire arms are kept. The police use their wardi and lathi to keep them away. The Maoists do not attack these harmless policemen as there is no incentive of taking their arms.
SHAFIQUE’S POWERS SURPRISE JITIN PRASAD
After losing all the five assembly seats in his parliamentary constituency of Daurahara that comprises of Lakhimpur and Sitapur districts, Jitin Prasad who was lobbying for the post of the PCC Chief was in a for another setback. One year ago, one Samina Shafique, a total outsider was brought in the Congress by Rita Bahuguna who is scared of losing her post to him and made an AICC member from Sitapur that falls in his constituency without Jitin’s consent. Samina was made the member on recommendation of Azharuddin to whom she had rented her house in Moradabad. Jitin learnt about her induction only through newspaper reports. During elections, Bahuguna provided her with all the protocol facilities and she campaigned during elections as AICC member to the utter horror of Prasad. Soon after the elections she has been made member of the National Women’s Commission with an MOS rank equal to that of Jitin who is MOS surface transport in the Manmohan Singh government. Now while a harried Jitin has been sitting for the last few days in his constituency protesting in vain against Shafique the lady has been heard calling up people and telling them that she now has all the powers and privileges as Jitin Prasad Samina has also been heard telling people that she has been promised a Lok Sabha ticket from Sitapur against the BSP sitting MP.
RAHUL LOOKING FOR A BRAHMIN TO HEAD UPCC
In the wake of Rita Bahuguna’s resignation, the race for the UPCC chief has intensified in recent weeks. While the party leadership is of the view of having a Muslim or a Brahmin or a Dalit face who can revitalise the party and restore the original support base of the Congress, Rahul Gandhi is opposed to any caste based selection. He is lobbying for a young and dynamic person. At the review meeting with UP MPs, Rahul was seen batting for RPN Singh a Kurmi on the basis that he was only one of the two MPs who could win two out of his five assembly seats. The other MP is Kamal Kishore the Dalit MP from Behraich who too could get two candidates elected with much higher votes than RPN without any support from the party. He was the only Congress MP in whose constituency Rahul did not go to campaign. When Rahul’s attention was drawn to the need of projecting someone who can bring back a captive vote bank most likely a Brahmin, Rahul proclaimed that I am a Brahmin. RPN who is a minister is reluctant to go to UP. So the new name that has surfaced is of Rajesh Mishra an ex Varanasi MP.
JAIRAM FAILS TO MEET JAYALALITHAA
For the past two months, the rural development minister Jairam Ramesh has been trying to get an appointment with the Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa but all his efforts were in vain. Just when luck was about to smile on him and he was given an appointment on April 19, the lady again cancelled her meeting with him, on April 17, after the meeting of the chief ministers in Delhi, Jairam was informed that the meeting has been postponed. He was told we will inform you later. No reason was however given. Unfortunately for poor Jairam who has been bragging of his relationship with the Tamil Nadu CM, it has come as a jolt. Both are Iyengar Brahmins with their roots in the Mandya districts of Karnataka and supposed to be distantly related. Jairam Ramesh who is mostly seen in the company of Iyengar leaders of DMK and Iyengar journalist of Tamil Nadu origins has taken upon himself the responsibility of bringing Jayalalithaa close to Congress.
AKHAND PATH YIELDS RESULTS
S S Ahluwalia’s faith in the almighty has strengthened only after he was chosen the BJP’s nominee for Rajya Sabha from Jharkhand after being denied the second term in the upper house earlier.. He had then organized a non stop Akhand Path to appease the almighty. As a result several teams of readers were involved in reciting the Guru Granth Sahib running into over fourteen hundred pages for days. It went on till the “Gods got tired” and were forced to smile on him and Ahluwalia was given a renomination. (IPA)