The Nehru-Gandhis’ sense of tyaag and self-willed distancing from the seat of power has created its own problems within the Congress. Be it self-promotion or advancing the careers of sons and daughters, all these activities — characteristic of politicians — now have to be done with a lot more finesse. Naturally, Abhijit Mukherjee, the Congress candidate for Nalhati in Bengal, is being made to wait for a date with his illustrious father, Pranab Mukherjee. Apparently, when Pranabda started his campaign in Bengal, he had included Nalhati in his itinerary but state Congress leaders advised Mukherjee to postpone his visit. Nalhati goes to polls in the second phase. So, they reasoned, visiting the constituency during the first round of campaigning would send wrong signals within the Congress, especially since there is no dearth of detractors wishing for Abhijit’s defeat. Pranabda seems to have understood the complexity entirely.
Sharad Pawar could be in trouble. Pressure is said to be mounting within the Congress and in the government for the PM to act against him after the revelation of his family’s alleged association with Shahid Balwa and DB Realty. But before that happens, the government will have to carry the can for letting a joint director of the Central Bureau of Investigation resign midway through the investigation into the 2G scam. YP Singh not only put in his resignation but also announced his decision to join the ICC, which is headed by Pawar. Singh is now working to complete his three months’ notice period, collecting information against his new boss.
Anna Hazare’s fast was the nearest independent India has come to satyagraha. It was unique in many ways though. From the second day, politicians were not allowed to step on to the dais but there were no restrictions on the aam admi. Many of them, however, had not come to see Hazare only. There were celebrities galore, and this was one occasion they could not miss rubbing shoulders with heroes and heroines. Apparently, one such hero was asked, after he had made a vibrant speech, how long he was ready to fast. Sensing trouble, the star is believed to have made a quick exit from the scene.
It is not Anna Hazare alone who can create a spectacle. The supporters of Ghulam Nabi Azad and the J&K state Congress chief, Saifuddin Soz, too can lay claim to that ability. Relations between the two leaders have soured so much that rival supporters thought nothing of kicking up a ruckus in front of Mohan Prakash, the CWC leader in charge of the state. Prakash was in Srinagar recently to address party workers, and he got a taste of what is brewing in the state committee. The Azad faction suffered a setback recently when Abdul Gani Vakil, a sitting MLC and Azad-backer, was denied re-nomination to the legislative council. When Azad’s supporters raised slogans at the meet against Soz, his supporters lunged at the former. Worse, when Prakash expressed his displeasure and tried to calm matters, he too was apparently manhandled. A fight to the finish, is it?
So many places to go, yet it is no pleasure trip. Currently, innumerable agencies and committees are investigating the 2G spectrum scam and all of them have been summoning and questioning the same stakeholders. Apart from the CBI, there is the enforcement directorate, income tax department, public accounts committee, and, now, the newly constituted JPC. The real work of the JPC will start after mid-May. What worries the JPC, however, is the fact that once the elections are over in the five states by mid-May, will the 2G scam hold the same relevance as it does now?
One of Gujarat’s showcase multinational factories in Halol has been witnessing labour unrest that has resulted in a loss of production. Labour problems forced another multinational to stop work on a pipeline in Jamnagar. What is bothering Narendra Modi is that the newly-formed trade union is affiliated to INTUC. Can there be smoke without fire, asks Modi. Any answers?
There is much to learn from the aam admi. One such man recently approached Virender Singh, a Congress Rajya Sabha member from Haryana, with a simple request — a letter of recommendation from Singh which he would show to the Haryana CM, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, to get some work done. He produced a notepad that read, “Sir Chhotu Ram zindabad, Chaudhary Virender Singh zindabad”. Chhotu Ram is Virender Singh’s grandfather. When asked why Hooda would be impressed by a reference to Singh’s lineage, he asked Singh to wait and returned with another notepad that read, “Chaudhary Ranvir Singh zindabad, Bhupinder Singh Hooda zindabad”. Ranvir Singh is Hooda’s father. A bemused Singh asked the man how he had managed to work the name change in minutes. Our man replied, “Chaudhary Sahab, we have all sorts of letter pads ready in our bag for use.”