Through the timeline

By: | Updated: September 25, 2016 7:48 AM

After ruffling feathers in the Congress with his book The Accidental Prime Minister, author Sanjaya Baru is now set for an encore. In his forthcoming title, 1991: How Narasimha Rao Made History, Baru argues that Rajiv Gandhi contributed to the Indian economic crisis not just with his policies, but also with his political manoeuvres

Keeping him away

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan wants to send Kailash Vijayvargiya to the Rajya Sabha from the seat in MP vacated by Najma Heptulla. A BJP general secretary, Vijayvargiya is close to party president Amit Shah, and of late, has been taking digs at Chouhan’s government. Vijayvargiya recently regretted the delay in starting a Metro line in Indore. BJP MP president Nandkumar Chauhan responded that general secretaries should stick to issues concerning the party organisation and not interfere in the state. Vijayvargiya retorted that a state leader should not counter a national general secretary. The CM, on his part, fears that Vijayvargiya—a six-time MLA who was virtually number two in the state cabinet till he resigned to join the party organisation—has an eye on his job. To ensure that Vijayvargiya stays away from state politics, Chouhan wants him to resign from the Assembly and join the Rajya Sabha.

Repeat performance

After ruffling feathers in the Congress with his The Accidental Prime Minister, in which he claimed that Manmohan Singh as prime minister had played second fiddle to Sonia Gandhi, author Sanjaya Baru is set for an encore. In his forthcoming title, 1991: How Narasimha Rao Made History, Baru argues that Rajiv Gandhi contributed to the Indian economic crisis not just with his policies but also with his political manoeuvres. Gandhi had given an assurance to President R Venkataraman that he would back Chandra Shekhar’s minority government till the economic crisis had blown over. But Gandhi toppled the government just before the budget for 1991, preventing India, Baru writes, from securing a lifeline from the IMF. This, he adds, was the last straw that pushed the economy to the brink of default. At Baru’s book releases next week, then finance minister Yashwant Sinha will share the stage with one of his successors, P Chidambaram, who fell out with Narasimha Rao.

Outsider kept out

Congress leaders who have been trying to clip the wings of campaign strategist Prashant Kishor feel vindicated after Rahul Gandhi, in a recent interview, made it clear that Kishor would confine himself to organising campaigns and to managing logistics. Ticket distribution and party strategy would be decided by the party itself. Congresspersons are quick to point out that Kishor’s brainwave of appointing Sheila Dikshit as the party’s UP chief ministerial candidate has flopped. Dikshit spends most of her time in Delhi and there are few party posters with her face. The fight against Kishor is so vicious that false complaints have even been made against him, with accusations that he has been hobnobbing with AAP leaders.

Trivedi’s next move

It is an open secret that Dinesh Trivedi is not on the best of terms with his TMC boss Mamata Banerjee. In fact, there was speculation that the former railway minister may be planning to switch political sides since he is friendly with both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Trivedi at the moment, however, is not looking at political alternatives. He wants to launch an international forum for peace initiatives to tackle growing incidents of violence throughout the world. He plans to launch his movement on October 2, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, from Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, along with Sam Pitroda and Kartikeya Sarabhai, son of the late scientist Vikram Sarabhai. The theme of the proposed forum is that the best way to fight terrorism is not by returning bullets but by drawing inspiration from great men of peace like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Kabir, Tulsidas and others.

Cancelled visit

President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Germany, Luxembourg and Cyprus was scheduled from September 14 to 20 and all preparations were in place, including selection of the delegation. But, at the last minute, the trip had to be cancelled since Mukherjee discovered that German chancellor Angela Merkel would be out of the country for the UN General Assembly. Mukherjee had planned the trip primarily to explain the Indian position on the NSG to Germany, but without Merkel’s presence, it would have been fruitless. He rejected the MEA’s proposal that he visit another country instead. Tiny Luxembourg, with a population of around 5,00,000, does not receive many heads of states from major countries and it had made elaborate arrangements for the aborted visit. Rashtrapati Bhavan wants to know how the goof-up occurred, since the President’s visit was planned well in advance.

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