A generous politician ' that might not be an oxymoron with people like Raman Singh around. It so happened that New Delhi's Chhattisgarh Bhavan had only one VIP suite and this caused a lot of problems each time the chief minister and the governor both landed up in the capital at the same time. Singh has now solved the problem by constructing a VVIP suite on the second floor and doing it up tastefully. That's very thoughtful of him, of course, but what is truly exceptional is that he has earmarked the new rooms for the governor, KM Seth. The CM has said that he will continue to inhabit the old rooms. Incidentally, these rooms used to be Amit Jogi's pads, from where he mounted his father's defence after the Dilip Singh Judeo cash-on-tape scam. But if Jogi Jr's love of good food and other good things in life are an indication, Singh will have made no compromise on comfort or luxury by forgoing the new rooms.
Whoever said lavish weddings are a waste' Subrata Mukherjee put the wedding of a relative of his to very good use indeed. The mayor did not spare any pains or expense to put up a good show. The lavish spread included 22 dishes ' seven kinds of salads, various soups and several varieties of fish. But that was all the window dressing ' the real show was political. Left, right and centre, politicians of every hue were there. Also present were several sitting judges, belying reports that the mayor was in the midst of a running battle with judiciary. Among the most notable presences was Tapan Sikdar. And the most notable absence ' Mamata Banerjee. Didi has talked of her dislike for opulent functions often enough for her absence to be taken askance, but she wasn't pleased to know that Sikdar was present.
Too hot to handle
Jehangir's jannat is turning into Sonia's sardard. As per the original PDP-Congress power-sharing pact in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed would have to resign by June 2005 and hand over power to the Congress. But as D-Day comes closer, the Congress president seems to be developing cold feet ' she would like the Mufti to continue for the next two-and-a-half years as well. Those in the know say that Sayeed is only too willing to continue, but he doesn't want to be seen as sticking to the chair. Also, he wants the Congress to go public with its demand that he continue in order to silence, once and for all, the national party's rumblings of dissatisfaction.
Out of the woods
Congressmen in Uttar Pradesh are a bit fazed at Salman Khurshid's choice of venue for the training meet for youth leaders ' Chitrakoot. This was the place Ram started his vanvaas, they say. 'Does he want to revive the Congress or take it back into vanvaas, after it has come back to power after eight years' ask UP's confused Congress workers.
The principle of one
Down but not out. The people may have rejected the BJP, but the BJP is not about to give up on principles. Its chief, LK Advani, has declared that he wishes to give up the post of leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, because he believes in the dictum, 'one man, one post'. The question is, who will replace him, since the cream of the party's leadership ' Pramod Mahajan, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Jaswant Singh ' is in the Rajya Sabha' So, will the BJP fall back on its old war horse, Atal Bihari Vajpayee' But doesn't he already hold one post ' leader of the BJP in Parliament'
Just the man for the job
While on the BJP, the party's Bihar campaign is causing some bafflement among political analysts. Why has Pramod Mahajan been included in the campaign team, which also includes Uma Bharti and Arun Jaitley' After all, it is no secret that there is no love lost between them. Apparently, LK Advani chose Mahajan because he felt that, as the leader, he needed to field his 'best team' in these crucial assembly elections. Also the BJP president is said to be less than pleased with all the high-profile leaders who refuse to dirty their hands on the campaign trail and feel that they have done their bit by holding press conferences in Delhi. But one thing is clear. Mahajan still manages to wield some clout in the BJP ' even if he did spend the new year in Las Vegas while the rest of his party brethren were shedding tears for the tsunami victims back home.
A family matter
Frayed nerves and fractured loyalties are quite the norm when elections are approaching. But for the Surjewalas of Haryana, the approaching assembly polls have brought it all a little too close home. Both the father, Shamsher Singh, and the son, Randeep Singh, are contenders for the CM's chair. According to the grapevine, the understanding between the two was that the former would contest the elections, while the latter would run the party as working president of the Congress's state unit. But Randeep seems to have reneged on the pact ' he wants to run too. Both were reluctant to stand in Narwana against Om Prakash Chautala, but now the son wants Kaithal, from where Shamsher is contesting. The buzz is that Randeep's demands for tickets for his supporters were also denied. Blood may be thicker than water, but it clearly does not stand for anything when it comes to grabbing power for oneself.