There is one thing about madam that never changes — her ability to keep the men on tenterhooks. It has been three months since the decision for an AICC reshuffle was announced at the Congress chief ministers’ conclave at Nainital. There is still no sign of it, and the strains are showing on those who have been pushed to a nervous edge by the Election Commission’s announcement to have the assembly polls soon in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Manipur. There has been a buzz about the move’s being held up because of the ongoing malmaas or inauspicious period, but there are reasons to suspect that perhaps the delay has been owing to the sudden silence of the “inner voice” which, otherwise, speaks so much. What else could make madam sit on her decision to return as chairman of the national advisory committee, which has been granted extension for six more months' Whatever the cause, the delay in the reshuffle is causing much heartburn in Dehradun and Chandigarh, where it is holding up more crucial matters like electoral alliances and seat-sharing arrangements.
There was a conscious effort on the part of the chief election commissioner to keep the election schedule for the four states under wraps till it was officially announced. But the fact that the Punjab government of Amarinder Singh got wind of N Gopalaswami’s decision soon after he had discussed the matter with his subordinate officers, makes it obvious that there is a mole in Nirvachan Sadan. It is for this dear ‘friend’ of the Punjab CM that his government got time to announce a slew of financial sops for certain influential sections of the electorate only hours before the model code of conduct came into force. Wonder whether friendship alone will guarantee a re-run of the Amarinder era, which is said to symbolize aish (fun), cash (read corruption) and taish (arrogance)!
Missing in action
It is not Mulayam Yadav alone who has given the killing field of Nithari a miss. Shivraj Patil, the Union home minister, and his junior, Prakash Jaiswal, too, have not found time to meet the parents of the murdered children. And yet, both are leaders of a party which claims to be duly concerned about the aam aadmi. Perhaps the party’s electoral concerns are proving to be more worrying for the two.
Tackling truancy does not seem to be a problem for school teachers alone. It is also one for the BJP top brass. At the recently concluded national executive meet of the party, the number of absentees was appalling. Shatrughan Sinha, Dharmendra and Hema Malini from the BJP’s stable of the glitterati went missing. Also absent were the mother-son duo — Maneka and Varun Gandhi. On his return to the capital, the party chief, Rajnath Singh, shot off innumerable missives, asking for explanations. One doubts if he got prompt replies.
Way to heaven
The Ardh Kumbh is in full flow on the banks of the Ganges. One striking feature is the unconventional offerings sadhus have been making to their deities. They range from the odd teddy bear to cricket bats and balls. To make the divine connection, many are making free use of the landline and mobile phones. The head of one akhara has even said that god is not indifferent to the appeal of computers, laptops and helicopters. However, it is not gizmos all the way. Conventional aartis are also being held in the mela.
Gubernatorial assignments do not wear off the political skills of former politicians. This was made evident by the Madhya Pradesh governor, Balram Jakhar. He had been shooting his mouth too frequently, much to the displeasure of the ruling BJP. Sushma Swaraj had even sought appointment with the president to lodge a complaint against Jakhar on behalf of the state MPs. Jakhar, however, acted fast. He is supposed to have called up every BJP leader who cared to listen to plead innocence. Last heard, the storm had passed and Jakhar was breathing easy again.
Message about a massage
Actor Tanushree Dutta is facing a hard time for taking a “hard” massage in Thailand. Her message to all — avoid the massage altogether.
Change of face
Is ND Tiwari soon to go out of reckoning' The signs emanating from Uttarakhand seem to be pointing in that direction. Take a look at the Congress campaign there. Some posters showcasing the Tiwari regime’s achievements in the last five years carry a mugshot of the veteran leader in the company of madam. But in most other posters, Tiwari is missing. These posters promise the world to the hill people, but in them Tiwari has been replaced with Harish Rawat. In normal circumstances, the presence of Rawat, Tiwari’s arch-rival, would have meant evil forebodings. Not so now, when Tiwari is too preoccupied with his dreams of becoming a presidential candidate to raise objections. But there are others less disinterested in the developments. The other aspirants to the CM’s post — Indira Hardesh and Satpalji Maharaj — have been spotted asking Motilal Vora, the AICC in-charge of Uttarakhand, if Rawat had received the green signal from madam. Vora has remained non-committal so far. But the lack of a clear answer may be enough excuse for the dissenters to create trouble.