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DIARY 08-11-2009

Family troubles Silent revolution Climate matters Behind the curtain Plan for the future FOOTNOTE Old is not gold anymore

By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 8.11.09

Family troubles

The ghar ki bahu has stepped out to defend the seat vacated by the son, but the father-in-law is still a worried man. Mulayam Singh’s daughter-in-law, Dimple Yadav, is contesting from Ferozabad, which was earlier held by Akhilesh Yadav, but netaji isn’t quite sure that it will be a cakewalk for Dimple. For the simple reason that Dimple’s opponents include men who were once ‘family’ as well. There is Raj Babbar, who had joined the Samajwadi Party in its early days and was close to Mulayam till Amar Singh came along to disturb their brotherly ties. Behenji has fielded another former SP leader, Devender Singh Baghel, and the duo is apparently taking great pleasure in spilling the beans on Mulayam’s ‘private conversations’ and telling people how a socialist leader like him changed spots to turn bourgeoisie. Worse, the 12 assembly seats up for grabs are littered with similar disgruntled former loyalists, such as Vinod Kumar Yadav, Mahinder Rajput and Chandra Bhadra Singh, who are now leading the charge against the SP. With the possibility of many more ‘secrets’ coming out in the open, Mulayam is wondering whether bahu Dimple will be able to save the day for the family.

Silent revolution

Another parivar is in a spot of bother, albeit for different reasons. Squabbles have broken out in the saffron family amidst fears that the Bharatiya Janata Party is no longer its own master. As long Atal Bihari Vajpayee was at the helm or LK Advani in his elements, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the BJP worked in tandem. The RSS preferred to stay out of the limelight, and even MS Golwalkar, one the most powerful sarsanghchalaks, hesitated before meddling in political affairs publicly.

But the times have changed. With the BJP considerably weakened after suffering electoral reverses, partymen have been heard grumbling that the present RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat, has occupied the driver’s seat. Bhagwat has been on record issuing edicts for the BJP to follow. The latest being that the person who succeeds Rajnath Singh to the post of the party president will have to be someone who is relatively young and hails from somewhere outside Delhi. After hearing this, BJP supporters have been left wondering what will then happen to senior leaders like Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley. Whispers have also been heard that Bhagwat should take over the party’s reins openly and stop mouthing assurances that the RSS has nothing to do with temporal things such as rajniti.

Climate matters

Jairam Ramesh created a flutter with his controversial letter to the prime minister that reportedly proposed changes to India’s long-standing position on climate change. Now, it seems that Ramesh is keen on enlisting the support of all political outfits on this matter. He recently telephoned the Rajya Sabha AIADMK leader, D Maitreyan, to discuss the matter, but Maitreyan apparently retorted that the lady at Poes Gardens will only be interested in discussing changes in the political climate. Hearing this, the unflappable Ramesh came up with his own quirky response. He assured the leader that as of now, he was only expected to discuss “geographical climate change”. Matters related to changes in the political climate could only be discussed with Madam, added Ramesh.

Behind the curtain

Now for some news from poll-bound Jharkhand. The Congress, it appears, has struck a deal with Babulal Marandi of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha. The credit for the pact should go to that old hand, RK Anand, and not to leaders such as Keshav Rao and Mukul Wasnik who are officially in charge of the polls in the state. Before the polls, the Congress, the grapevine has it, conducted a survey, which showed that the poll prospects of the party will suffer if it tied up with tainted politicians such as Shibu Soren. Taking the cue from the results, Anand got into the act and helped forge ties with Marandi who has a cleaner image to improve the Congress’s chances in Jharkhand. Anand must be hoping that the service rendered will improve his own chances of a raise in the pecking order as well.

Plan for the future

Staying with Jharkhand. Not a single vote has been cast yet but some Congressmen are busy claiming the CM’s chair. Take the Union minister, Subodh Kant Sahay, for instance. He has already staked his claim for the hot seat. But Sahay’s premature dreams run the risk of being broken by the influential tribal lobby within the Congress. Pradip Balmuchu, the Jharkhand Congress unit chief, has openly resisted Sahay’s plans. With infighting plaguing the party, even the most optimistic Congress supporter will be worried that a tie-up with Babulal Marandi is unlikely to be of much help.

Old is not gold anymore

Grey-haired AICC secretaries may soon become a thing of the past. A new policy, we hear, is being drafted by the Union law minister, Veerappa Moily, under Rahul Gandhi’s instructions. Moily’s son-in-law, a core member of Team Rahul, is also on the job and is being shepherded by the senior leader.

Some of the salient features of this policy are as follows. For starters, all AICC secretaries will have to be below 50 years old. Moreover, the document also says that only state leaders who have been members of the legislative assembly for at least two terms and have been denied tickets for the Lok Sabha for some legitimate reason will be eligible for membership of the Upper House. Committed Congress leaders would be given prominent positions in the party, and the draft has also laid great emphasis on issues such as discipline.

The policy is supposed to be in place before 2010, and old war horses are likely to complain that they are being made to look at retirement plans much too early.