The government had second thoughts on the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as chairperson of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) because of the continuing student agitation and perception that Chauhan did not have the stature to fill the post. But any chance of cancelling the appointment evaporated once Rahul Gandhi visited the institute and came out in solidarity with the striking FTII students
Woke up late
Rahul Gandhi had for long ignored requests from Himanta Biswa Sarma, rebel Congress leader from Assam, to meet him, since he backed Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi and opposed Sarma’s campaign to replace Gogoi. Sarma, the key organiser for the Congress during the state elections, could meet Sonia but not Rahul when in Delhi. However, last week when TV channels announced that Sarma was holding talks with BJP president Amit Shah, Rahul sprang belatedly into action. He called Sarma four times while, ironically, he was sitting with BJP office-bearers. Sarma did not take his call. Later he sent Rahul an SMS, explaining that it was too late. With Sarma’s exit, the Congress high command fears that others in the Assam Congress could follow suit.
Kanishka Singh was considered a close aide to Rahul Gandhi since 2004. However, Singh, the son of late IFS officer S K Singh and an MBA from Wharton, is now obviously no longer as close to Rahul. Recently a bystander overheard Rahul asking Singh, who spends most of his time working from Priyanka Gandhi’s office now, “How are you doing these days?”
The government had second thoughts on the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as chairperson of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) because of the continuing student agitation and perception that Chauhan did not have the stature to fill the post. But any chance of cancelling the appointment evaporated once Rahul Gandhi visited the institute and came out in solidarity with the striking FTII students. Initially I&B minister Arun Jaitley had reservations about Chauhan’s appointment and sat over the file for four days. However, minister of state Rajyavardhan Rathore urged him to clear the appointment saying that pressure from some party leaders, who wanted a non-Leftist installed, was mounting.
Even though they are allies, relations between the TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu and the BJP are not very cordial at the moment. The TDP government is still waiting for a special package for Andhra Pradesh, including funds for developing its new capital Amravati. Naidu has demanded that Andhra be given special category status by the Central government. In addition, the Andhra CM feels that the Centre has not taken its side in his dispute with Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao over telephone-tapping and charges of bribing an MLA. Because of the bad blood, the TDP has threatened that it will not help the BJP get a Rajya Sabha seat from Andhra in 2016. If the TDP acts on its threat, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman could be the victim. Her term in the Rajya Sabha expires in another eight months.
Former UPA cabinet minister Salman Khurshid has an acrimonious relationship with the Delhi Public School Society chairperson and former CAG VK Shunglu, following the latter’s election as chairperson of the society by one vote under controversial circumstances. (The late Khushwant Singh’s vote which was against Shunglu went missing.) Khurshid has now decided to launch a rival educational body titled, Delhi Public School World Foundation, with wife Louise Khurshid as chairperson. Khurshid has become a life-time trustee of the foundation and so has former deputy chairperson of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia. Khurshid’s Congress colleagues Ambika Soni, Jitin Prasada and Pallam Raju are also term trustees. Khurshid says the new body is to be run basically by DPS alumni who best understand the school’s ethos. One of his major differences with the original DPS society is that some 200 schools all over the country which are franchised by DPS can use the school’s name and logo but be voting members of the society.
Gujarat PCC chief Bharatsinh Solanki has not issued any statement either endorsing the demand for Patel reservations or against it. Solanki’s father Madhavsinh had conceived the once successful KHAM (Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslim) vote bank formula for the Congress and, considering he himself is a Kshatriya leader, Solanki was expected to speak out against the Patel demand. In fact, at a party meeting, Jagdish Thakur, a former MP, urged Solanki to issue a press release condemning the demand for reservation. However, Solanki does not want to alienate the Patels, particularly as his father was unseated thanks to a Patel backlash. Solanki is waiting for the BJP to take a stand before the Congress decides its next move.