| Tired tip
The Big Two — Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh — may not have uttered a word but speculation is rife in the corridors of power of an impending reshuffle in the Union council of ministers. Consequently, rumours are flying thick and fast and the jockeying for plum posts has started in earnest among the various contenders. But the feverish conjecture seems to have amused, and even riled, some old hands. For instance, the Union external affairs minister, SM Krishna, tired of being tipped as a future governor, had this to say recently to a section of the press corps: “ Speculation is the exclusive prerogative of the ladies and gentlemen sitting before me. You keep speculating, we keep reading.” Pranab Mukherjee, on the other hand, has been a tad irritated by this buzz of ‘change’. There is some talk about Pranabda exchanging places with P Chidambaram, but the finance minister has reportedly said that with the Union budget round the corner, the chances of such a shift appear to be very slim. Meanwhile, the ‘youth brigade’ — Jyotiraditya Scindia, Ajay Maken, Manish Tiwari and others — are keeping their fingers crossed and their eyes set on the minister of state’s rank in the PMO. They are hoping that the PM will act upon his wish and bring about a ‘younger cabinet’. What has added grist to the rumour mill is the possibility of an organizational reshuffle, and senior leaders such as Ambika Soni, Kamal Nath and Ghulam Nabi Azad are expected to be brought back to bolster the party organization. To know which way the winds of change will blow, keep watching this space.
Meanwhile, one can also hear an excited gaggle of voices from the Bharatiya Janata Party camp. BJP spokespersons, Shahnawaz Hussain, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Nirmala Sitamani are miffed about the fact that Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley rarely miss an opportunity to interact with the media. To make matters worse, SS Ahluwalia and Vijay Kumar Malhotra also hold regular press briefings when Parliament is in session, leaving Rudy and Co. with very little to do.
But Rudy did manage to snatch a few moments under the sun during the BJP’s national executive meet at Guwahati. A trained pilot, he flew one of the aircraft to the airport and managed to draw a lot of attention. In his free time, he also entertained some of his technologically challenged colleagues with internet games on his laptop. Here is hoping that all the attention and the accolades at Guwahati will help lift Rudy’s spirits.
The former chief minister of Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje, and the BJP president, Nitin Gadkari, seem to get along like a house on fire. The reason? After Gadkari became the party president, he succeeded in solving the crisis in Raje’s home turf. Gadkari even took a grateful Raje along with him to a goodwill visit abroad. The duo were seen travelling together for the national executive in Guwahati as well. They sat reading the newspapers in the front row on the early morning flight from Delhi and shared some light moments. Other party leaders, who were travelling to the same destination, sat behind the cheerful duo and perhaps hoped that the bonhomie would last for good.
At a recent cabinet meeting, a war of words broke out between P Chidambaram and Farooq Abdullah. Apparently, Abdullah directed PC’s attention towards the demolition of a religious structure in the capital, to which Chidambaram replied that his ministry was just doing its job. But Abdullah was not done yet. Next, he complained that a religious leader was reportedly making inflammatory speeches and that the situation was getting out of control. An irritated Chidambaram enlisted the measures that he had undertaken to restore normalcy, but even this failed to impress Abdullah. As if spiralling onions prices are not enough, now the PM has to devise ways to end verbal duels among ministers.
Sharad Pawar’s request to Indians to stop eating onions at a time of scarcity has not gone down too well. The other day, a wag was heard thanking the almighty that Pawar isn’t the textiles minister. “He would have asked us not to wear clothes then,” concluded the wise one.
After his return from political wilderness, Jaswant Singh’s days have got busier. Singh has now been asked to forge smooth ties with other political parties in a bid to win more allies. Nitin Gadkari made a statement to this effect just a few days before the national executive went under way in Guwahati.
Curiously, Singh’s son, Manvendra, too has become a busy bee these days. Manvendra was a former journalist and a leading columnist before he entered the topsy-turvy world of politics. After his father got expelled from the BJP, he too lay low for a while.
Now, both father and son seem to have made a strong comeback and Manvendra’s articles have started reappearing on print. Singh senior and his son couldn’t have asked for a better turn in their fortunes.