Glimpses of Karti’s clout
With the CBI having arrested Karti Chidambaram in the INX media case, other instances of Karti’s alleged clout in the Manmohan Singh regime are being talked about. For instance, former telecommunications minister A Raja claims in his newly released book 2G Saga Unfolds that Karti had approached him to meet the owner of a leading telecom service provider and he had obliged Karti, since he was the son of a ministerial colleague.
Troubles with difficult guests
When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Agra to see the Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath was not present to receive him, nor did he organise an official function in his honour. Most assumed that Adityanath was simply cool towards the Trudeaus because of instructions from New Delhi. But insiders in Lucknow suggest that it is more likely that the chief minister acted on his own volition because of his unhappy experience with the earlier State visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, whom Prime Minister Modi had requested him to look after. The chief minister was irritated that the Israeli couple did not keep to the programme schedule and he had to cool his heels for over an hour. First, Sara Netanyahu took her own time to come down from her hotel room, holding up the visit to the Taj. At lunch, Ms Netanyahu abruptly left the dining table where Yogi was hosting a vegetarian non-alcoholic meal, and said she would prefer to sit outside. A short while later, her husband decided to join her, leaving his host red-faced.
For this actress, a ministerial fan
Minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju is clearly a fan of Bollywood actor Huma Qureshi, as seen from his Twitter handle. Recently, Qureshi posted on Twitter asking for a translation of the label for a Japanese spread called Macha, to find out if it had sugar content. The minister, who should have been preoccupied with the Northeast, considering that elections were on there, responded promptly with a tweet saying he would have tried to translate it for her but he was busy in the campaign. He added another explanatory tweet, “I am messaging you from a chopper while campaigning”. Qureshi’s name finds an occasional mention in the minister’s tweets such as clubbing her name with major stars like Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar and announcing that these actors are looking to do projects in the Northeast. Last year, Rijiju hosted the premiere for the movie Partition 1947 at the government auditorium in Delhi. Qureshi was the movie’s heroine.
On poll tie-up query, ask Rahul
A journalist who met Sonia Gandhi in Parliament enquired whether the Congress would be joining the BSP in backing the Samajwadi Party for the two by-elections in Uttar Pradesh. Sonia suggested that the scribe speak to Rahul, since she was not the party chief. Even when the newsman reminded her that she continued to be the chairperson of the UPA, Sonia declined to comment. The party’s younger generation believes the old guard is responsible for bringing the Congress to its present sorry state. As an example, they cite CP Joshi, who is general secretary in charge of 11 states, including the Northeast, Bihar and the Andaman Islands. During the recent campaign in the Northeast, Joshi was not present in the region for more than a fortnight. The selection of candidates for the Rajya Sabha seats will provide the first clue as to whether there is to be a generational shift in out-look. Rahul’s long-time mentor Sam Pitroda is rumoured to be a possible Rajya Sabha candidate. Though he has taken Indian citizenship and has sold off his businesses, his friends say Pitroda is not interested as he prefers acting on his own, not as a team.
In party in flux, drifting MLAs
It is difficult to keep track of equations in the AIADMK. E Palaniswami (EPS) is chief minister and O Panneerselvam (OPS) deputy CM, so many assume that EPS is the boss. But in national politics, OPS is superior as he is party coordinator and EPS only co-coordinator. The general secretary’s post remains vacant since Jayalalithaa’s death. Last week in Parliament, among the 37 AIADMK MPs, the only topic of conversation was actor Rajinikanth’s speech saying he had decided to enter politics because of the vacuum left by Jayalalithaa and ailing DMK leader M Karunanidhi in state politics. Judging from the mood, several rudderless AIADMK legislators are hoping to join Rajinikanth eventually.