Inside Track: Coomi Kapoor

By: | Published: September 24, 2017 5:56 AM

Along with their heavy duties as railway minister and HRD Minister respectively, Piyush Goyal and Prakash Javadekar have another weighty responsibility.

In fact they could end up spending as much time on party work as they do on official duties.

Double portfolios

Along with their heavy duties as railway minister and HRD Minister respectively, Piyush Goyal and Prakash Javadekar have another weighty responsibility. In fact they could end up spending as much time on party work as they do on official duties. Party president Amit Shah has appointed both men in-charge of Karnataka, which goes to polls next year. Shah has set the BJP a target of winning 150 of the 224 seats in the state. When he was last in Karnataka, on a three-day visit, Shah scolded the state party leadership for not showing proper will to fight the Siddaramaiah government. Shah’s target is an ambitious one and the two ministers have to now make frequent trips to Karnataka to meet party functionaries and work out a strategy to defeat the state’s street-smart chief minister.

Remembering Feroze

Technically, the head of the Gandhi family is Feroze Gandhi. But Feroze was ignored during successive Congress regimes, which is why Swedish author Bertil Falk named his book, released last year, as ‘Feroze: The Forgotten Gandhi’. Falk is back in India this year and the Modi government, ironically, seems anxious to keep Feroze’s memory alive, even as the Congress is not so inclined. Falk was quick to criticise Rahul Gandhi’s remark in his Berkeley speech that dynasties are the norm in India. He was quoted as saying that Feroze would never have approved of this sentiment. Now, Falk is to speak at the Nehru Memorial Museum & Library whose director is Shakti Sinha. NDA-appointee Surya Prakash, chairperson of Prasar Bharati, and a long-time member of India Foundation, will preside over
the function.

Yielding to the new

Kannada actress Ramya, who is in charge of the Congress’s social media cell, is planning to organise a workshop for party seniors when Parliament reconvenes, on how best to use social media and what the party’s media policy is. Senior leaders Digvijaya Singh and Manish Tewari got into trouble for using abusive language while tweeting against Prime Minister Modi. It was not just the BJP which was critical, but some from their own party also felt that the attacks were in bad taste. Party veterans, already upset with Rahul Gandhi’s decision to appoint Ramya in place of Deepender Hooda, will be further infuriated to learn that they have to take lessons from youngsters. Although Ramya had no previous experience with the Congress social media cell, Rahul was impressed by her combative tweets against the PM and BJP ministers. After she took over, the budget for the social media cell, located at the party’s power centre on the Gurudwara Rakabganj Road, has shot up some 20 times. Ramya has hired an American expert who worked on Donald Trump’s campaign team. She has also replaced many of the old hands in the cell. Disgruntled old-timers say the problem with the new entrants is that they have little insight into the history and background of the Congress. Their main source is Google, where the information can be misleading and not necessarily reflective of the party’s ethos and culture .

‘No, thank you’

In his engrossing book How India Sees the World, former foreign secretary Shyam Saran points out an insightful similarity between Chinese and Indian cultures. When Saran was leaving Hong Kong, he invited his Mandarin tutor for dinner. The tutor remarked that this was the first time she would be visiting a student’s place for dinner in many years. It was not that she had not been invited in the past or that she was disinclined to go. The problem was that she was asked only once and, as in India, in China it is impolite to accept immediately. You say, “No, thank you”, hoping the host will press you a second time.

TN Game of thrones

The Sasikala-Dinakaran faction bitterly claims that the reason why it managed to get only 18 MLAs is that the new AIADMK government, headed by E Palaniswami, has changed the model of governance in Tamil Nadu. Instead of single-entry clearances as in Jayalalithaa’s regime, there are now multiple entry points, with MLAs involved in the process. Meanwhile in Delhi, two key contenders for a Cabinet berth in the next reshuffle, senior Rajya Sabha MP V Maitreyan and Deputy Lok Sabha Speaker M Thambidurai, are making the rounds of the powers that be to press their claim. Since the AIADMK has 37 MPs in the Lok Sabha and 13 in the Rajya Sabha, it feels entitled to at least three ministerial slots.

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