Inside track

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Updated: May 29, 2016 8:22:14 AM

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan spent 22 days at the Simhasth Kumbh Mela in Ujjain, leading many to wonder whether there was no other work for him to attend to. Chouhan took personal interest in the arrangements and in welcoming visitors. All over the mela, there were posters with the CM’s photograph

Wrong company
The AICC brought out a pamphlet on the 25th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi. The booklet was to be distributed to those who came to attend the party rally in Delhi. However, after  copies were handed out at the prayer ceremony in the morning, somebody noticed that standing alongside Rajiv Gandhi in the cover photograph was  journalist MJ Akbar, who was then a Congress MP. However, Akbar is now a leading light of the BJP. When the faux pas was pointed out, the pamphlets were hastily withdrawn.

Fair publicity
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan spent 22 days at the Simhasth Kumbh Mela in Ujjain, leading many to wonder whether there was no other work for him to attend to. Chouhan took personal interest in the arrangements and in welcoming visitors. All over the mela, there were posters with the CM’s photograph. Chouhan hoped that his interaction with visitors at the fair would convert into votes, since 70% of those who came were from MP. The MP government also advertised the fair with Chouhan’s photo prominently displayed in big and small publications throughout the country. This is seen as an attempt to raise Chouhan’s profile nationally as a Hindutva leader.

JD(U) changes tack
Members of the Rajya Sabha Ethics Committee are surprised to find JD(U) MPs suddenly very active in trying to ensure that speedy action is taken against Anil Sahani. Sahani, a JD(U) MP, is accused of defrauding Parliament of Rs 23.71 lakh as travel and dearness allowance, by submitting forged e-tickets, fake boarding passes and bills. The CBI had investigated the case and filed chargesheets in court last year for cheating, criminal conspiracy and forgery, but was waiting for permission from Rajya Sabha chairperson Hamid Ansari for prosecution. Sahani had in Parliament accused the government of misusing the CBI, saying it had filed a bogus chargesheet to embarrass Nitish Kumar’s government on the eve of the Bihar Assembly elections. However, Friday before last, Ansari granted permission to the CBI to prosecute Sahani. The issue is also before the Ethics Committee. The JD(U) is keen to see Sahani’s membership annulled soon so that it can send one more Rajya Sabha MP from Bihar in his place. Sharad Yadav and RCP Singh have already been selected for two Rajya Sabha nominations and the name of  KC Tyagi is in the running in case of Sahani’s expulsion.

Poor timing
At  9.15 am on May 19, an appointment was fixed for Congress president Sonia Gandhi to meet Delhi PCC chief Ajay Maken along with four Congress and one independent corporator, who had recently won in the Delhi civic bypolls. A statement was released quoting the corporators attributing their victory to Rahulji and Soniaji. Whoever arranged the meeting forgot that on the very same day, results of five state assemblies were to be declared. It soon emerged that the party received a drubbing in four states. If the Delhi councillors credited their victory to the Gandhis, then logically, the losing assembly  candidates would have to attribute their defeat to the first family. Party men wondered privately whether the right hand of the Congress knows what the left hand is doing.

Anointment day?

With the defeat of the Congress in four states, Digvijaya Singh called for drastic surgery in the party. But the prevailing view is that the time is not auspicious for Rahul to take charge as party president. This has pleased office-bearers selected by Sonia who fear that they will have no role to play in the new dispensation. One school of thought is that it would be advisable for Rahul to take over as party chief after putting up a show of a contest during the AICC meet in August rather than be summarily anointed as Congress president. Problem is that no one important enough to be considered a potential challenger, such as Kapil Sibal, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Shashi Tharoor, wants to be made the fall guy. Another option is for Rahul to continue as vice-president till 2018, since already he virtually wields the powers of the president.

Quitting the board
Newly nominated member of the Rajya Sabha Swapan Dasgupta has resigned from the L&T board. The journalist’s appointment as a government nominee on the board of the infrastructure behemoth had evoked some sharp comments from his detractors. However, contrary to the impression spread in some quarters, Dasgupta, as a government nominee, was not entitled to any share in the company’s profits, which accrued to the public treasury.

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