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Sunday , January 20 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Forgotten hero

Out of luck

Janardhan Dwivedi — the general secretary of the All India Congress Committee who is also the head of the media department — has created a record of sorts. Dwivedi has completed five years as the media department head. However, the veteran seems to be in no mood to celebrate his achievement. When some Congress leaders congratulated him over his long stint, Dwivedi — who is a Hindi scholar as well as Sonia Gandhi’s Hindi speech writer — appeared to be less than enthusiastic.

Dwivedi’s sour mood is not without cause. Apparently, several spokespersons who worked under him — such as Manish Tewari, Jayanthi Natarajan and Renuka Chowdhury — have become important ministers, but the AICC gen-sec has had no such luck. To make matters worse for Dwivedi, during the time of the last cabinet reshuffle, his name was doing the rounds for the post of the human resource development minister, but MM Pallam Raju won the berth in the end. Dwivedi is perhaps realizing that even brilliant speeches can sometimes fall on deaf ears.

New identity

Meanwhile, the Union rural development minister, Jairam Ramesh, is facing a different problem. There are too many people with the name, Vijay — or a variant of it — working in Ramesh’s ministry. This is creating a problematic situation for him whenever he wants to speak to any one of them. First, there is the secretary, rural development, whose name is S Vijay Kumar. Then there is an additional secretary rank official who goes by the name of Vijay Anand. Finally, there are the joint secretaries, Vijaya Srivastava and T Vijay Kumar. As a result, whenever Ramesh sends for “Vijay”, a wrong official invariably ends up in his chamber.

In order to deal with the confusing situation, Ramesh is said to be pondering the idea of assigning numbers to all the similarly named people, and calling for them as Vijay 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Straight talk

Perhaps Jairam Ramesh can take a leaf out of P Chidambaram’s book on how to handle a tricky situation. Many experienced politicians fumble when it comes to speaking to the media, but the Union finance minister is an exception. He has proved to be a smart politician. On December 31 last year, Chidambaram announced the government’s roll-out of the ambitious direct cash transfer scheme. While making the announcement, PC made it clear to the media that even though the plan would be put in effect from the first day of 2013, they should not expect it to be successful by the evening of January 1. He asked media persons to not assess the success of the cash transfer project by 5pm on New Year’s Day, because hiccups in such a big plan are to be expected. Whether these hiccups get sorted out over time remains to be seen. Watch this space.

Tough spot

Over to the Bharatiya Janata Party now. If Nitin Gadkari becomes the party president for a second term, the move will be well received by most in the BJP. However, there will be some who will be left feeling nervous. One of them is Dharmendra Pradhan, who became a party gen-sec owing to his proximity to Gadkari. However, Pradhan reportedly shifted his allegiance to the leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley. Pradhan is even said to have become a self-styled spokesperson for Jaitley amidst doubts about Gadkari winning a second term as party chief. If Gadkari is appointed to the post again, then Pradhan faces an uncertain future.

Worse, Pradhan’s record as party gen-sec has not been great. The BJP lost in Uttarakhand when he was handling the elections in that state. He was also unable to save the BJP’s relationship with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha when he was in charge of Jharkhand. With so many things working against him, Pradhan will be hoping that Gadkari — in the event of him becoming the party president again — will turn a blind eye to his past failures.

Surprise visit

Spotted at the Congress’s chintan shivir at Jaipur was a close aide of a constitutional authority who doubles up as a party official in government-run media. His presence at the Congress meet raised eyebrows, as serving government officials are not supposed to attend the party jamboree. However, sources close to him justified his attendance by pointing out his frequent visits to the Congress’s war room — the party’s election office — at 15 Gurdwara Rakabgunj Road in Delhi.


Air scare

But unexpected presences at Jaipur are not the only things making Congress leaders anxious. Some senior party leaders who were en route to the Congress party meet had a few worrying moments when the plane carrying them from New Delhi to the Rajasthan capital faced some turbulence in mid-air. The air pocket was reportedly very deep, prompting some flight passengers to jump up. For a few uncertain seconds, the VVIPs on the flight were spotted mouthing silent prayers and looking at each other in dismay. To their relief, everything went off well and the aircraft landed safely in Jaipur. Some of the passengers on that Jaipur-bound plane were P Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh, V Narayanasamy and Suresh Pachauri. Seems like everyone, powerful or not, must look heavenwards when faced with nature’s fury.