Jairam Ramesh had hoped to bury the Bt brinjal controversy deep under the ground by passing a moratorium on its commercial release. But the plant seems to be growing ugly branches everywhere. Take the Congress party. It is still divided over the issue and the breach seems to be expanding with every passing day. So much so that the warring heads have decided to borrow an unbeatable weapon from the party armoury — historical legacy. Ramesh has been flashing the Indira card to defend his decision on Bt brinjal. He has got his team to prepare a book of rare messages and quotes from Indira Gandhi, who is being hailed as the first environmentalist politician. At a recent meeting, Ramesh said he was inspired by Indiraji’s mission to protect India’s farmers and the environment. Not to be outdone, his opponents — like Prithviraj Chauhan, the minister of state for science and technology — have resurrected the memory of Rajiv Gandhi. They say they are inspired by Rajiv’s thrust for biotechnology. Take your pick!
It pays to have your wits about you. The other day, the Lok Sabha proceedings had started after the president’s address. The Speaker, Meira Kumar, was about to introduce Sushma Swaraj as the new leader of the Opposition when the entire Opposition bench rose in a joint protest against the price rise. The moment Swaraj had been waiting for seemed to be slipping out of her clasp. But wait! A public speaker par excellence, Swaraj seized the moment by launching into a diatribe against the government for its failure to curb price rise. The house listened to her to a man — just the way she had wanted it.
Say it with colours
There never seems to be a dull moment in ND Tiwari’s life. Tiwari, who quit as Andhra Pradesh’s governor after a scandal, was recently spotted celebrating Holi in Uttarakhand. The festival of colours was still a few days away then, but that didn’t stop him from bringing some colour back into his life. Tiwari is also writing his autobiography, and says he is now involved in ‘constructive politics’. One wonders what he had been doing all this while.
Shahnawaz Hussain cannot stop gushing about his meeting with the PM. The BJP leader had gone to see Manmohan Singh in connection with something concerning the culture ministry. Singh, apparently, walked up a good 10 steps to greet Hussain and also rang up the officials concerned, asking them to address the issue on a priority basis. The best part was that the PM readily obliged when Hussain requested him for a joint photograph. While recounting the episode, Hussain could not help mention that Nitish Kumar, the Bihar CM, feared that the photo would be used for self-promotion. Now we really don’t know where Kumar got that idea from, or do we?
When she is not delivering the railway budget, Mamata Banerjee prefers to maintain a low profile in the Lower House, occupying the backbenches. Fair enough. But the trouble is that even when the president was delivering her speech, Didi was seen absorbed with her cell phone. Many of her MPs sitting with her on the back row were doing the same thing, for they have to follow in Didi’s footsteps.
Still going strong
Successful lawyers seldom retire. So it is only fitting that the former attorney-general, Soli Sorabjee, should maintain a very busy schedule. Despite his age — he is pushing 80 — Sorabjee continues to make appearances in the apex court, arguing cases for his high-profile clients. To mark Sorabjee’s birthday, his family and close friends have lined up a series of lunches and dinners that will see the who’s who of the legal community in full attendance. An invitation to one of these dinners has an interesting cartoon on its cover. It shows a judge asking Sorabjee, “How old are you?” The latter is seen holding the Constitution in his hand and answering, “I’m old enough, My Lord, to invoke my right to silence.” Interestingly, the country’s three top lawyers — Sorabjee, Fali Nariman and Ram Jethmalani — are all in their late 70s or early 80s. And all three continue to be sharp and active as ever. It seems like ‘silence’ can wait for the moment.
To the rescue
The bad blood between the information and broadcasting minister, Ambika Soni, and the woman and child development minister, Krishna Tirath, is boiling over. Tirath, who was rebuked by the PM for the gaffe over the release of an advertisement featuring a Pakistan armyman, was on the lookout for a scapegoat and found one in a senior information officer, who has been removed from his post. Even as the official waits for further orders, Soni, who is in charge of the press information bureau, is said to have stepped in to save him. Soni has, apparently, assured a group of journalists, which met her to apprise her of the situation, that the officer will not be victimized. Tirath, however, is adamant that the man should go. This is turning out to be a case that can only be settled in Madam’s court.