Digvijay Singh better watch out. Uma Bharti has now decided to mentor none other than Rahul Gandhi. There are whispers that the sadhvi has decided voluntarily to shower her pearls of wisdom on the young Congress gen-sec. During her recent meeting with Sonia Gandhi, ostensibly to garner support for the ‘Clean Ganga Campaign’, Bharti regaled one and all by recounting her excellent rapport with the former prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi. The Gandhis and Bharti may be placed on opposite ends of the political spectrum but that has not stopped Bharti from maintaining cordial ties with 10 Janpath. But what are Bharti’s lessons for Rahul? If the grapevine is to be believed, Bharti wants Rahul not to waste his time trying to revive his party in Uttar Pradesh as the Congress does not have a bright future in this populous state. Instead, Rahul, Bharti believes, should spend his time reading good books. It remains to be seen whether the diligent student takes Bharti’s lessons seriously.
Sushma Swaraj has opted for an image makeover, that too in cyber space. That Swaraj is an avid tweeter is well known. Recently, she surprised one and all by uploading a photograph of her younger days. There were detailed descriptions of her long political journey as well — how she rose from being an activist of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad to become a cabinet minister in Haryana, the chief minister of Delhi as well as a Union minister. That Swaraj is keen to refurbish her image as a leader with a considerable mass base was also driven home with care. She mentioned that she has fought 10 general elections, has been elected to the Lok Sabha on six occasions, and is now the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
Already, pundits in the Bharatiya Janata Party have busied themselves in decoding the message behind this exercise. Some of them are of the view that this is Swaraj’s way of establishing her credentials in the race to become the prime minister after the next general elections.
Shankersinh Vaghela is far from a happy man. He has found himself to be politically marginalized not only in his home state but also at the national level. Vaghela, a former Union minister and chief minister, planned to use his birthday to test his popularity at the ground level. There is some talk about the veteran leader floating a ‘third front’. This, his supporters say, is because Vaghela has been unhappy with a passive Congress giving Narendra Modi, the BJP chief minister, a free run. But given the history and credibility of third fronts in Indian politics, some say Vaghela would soon have to trace his steps back to the Congress.
Here is some news on the gubernatorial front. The United Progressive Alliance’s plan to shuffle governors has hit a road block. There are very few claimants for the Raj Bhavan at Jaipur. Two unfortunate deaths in office in quick succession seem to be the reason behind this collective unwillingness.
In stark contrast, there seems to be a keen tussle over Tamil Nadu. Surjit Singh Barnala is nearing the completion of his term. But a section within the Congress is not keen on Margaret Alva succeeding Barnala to the Raj Bhavan in Chennai. This is because Alva is perceived to be close to the lady at Poes Gardens. Alva, some leaders feel, would be a better choice for election-bound Uttarakhand. But one wonders what would be done to fill the vacancy in Rajasthan.
Rajnikanth is supposed to resume shooting for Rana.The superstar had fallen ill during the first day of the shoot. Hence, writers are chopping and changing the script to make sure that Rajni is not forced to undertake strenuous action sequences. Insiders say that some bits will now be shot in digital format to ease things up for the hero who is playing three different characters. But others feel that what needs to be changed is not the script but the title of the film. ‘Rana’ turned out to be jinxed for Rajni. Hence the need for a new name. And we thought there isn’t much in a name....
India may be battling England at Lords but another battle — this time, of words — has ended conclusively in India’s favour. Mani Shankar Aiyar, who once worked as a spin-doctor for Rajiv Gandhi, beat Peter Mandelson, who served Tony Blair in a similar capacity, in a debate held in Ukraine. The topic of discussion was whether sporting events are good for a nation’s health. Aiyar, who was critical of India hosting the Commonwealth Games, is known to be a staunch critic of such events. Mandelson, on the other hand, played a role in helping London secure the Olympics. Before the debate, 66 per cent had voted in favour of sporting events while 20 per cent voted against them. After hearing Aiyar’s views, the numbers were reversed to 52 and 40 per cent, respectively. Aiyar surely has been blessed with a greater gift of the gab.