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Disgruntled Jagan may get ministerial berth
NEW DELHI, JUL 4 (IANS):
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Published on 4 Jul. 2010 11:09 PM IST
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The Congress may have found a way to heal its uneasy relations with the defiant MP from Andhra Pradesh, Jaganmohan Reddy. He may be inducted in the union ministry. The grapevine in the capital hasn’t stopped buzzing since the heir apparent of late chief minister Y.S. Rajashekhara Reddy met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi recently.
Jagan, as he is popularly called, met Gandhi along with his mother Vijaylaxmi and sister Sharmila to seek her permission for a controversial rally through the troubled Telangana region in memory of his late father.
Whatever be the fate of the rally, party insiders say the Congress high command wants to make Jagan a “good leader” by inducting him in the Manmohan Singh government as a junior minister. This will help in making the young MP shed his defiant posture and sink his differences with the state leadership.
The party high command also want to pacify the supporters of Jagan, who are seething over the party’s decision not to give the nod for his rally - an issue that has caused a rift in the state unit of the Congress.
Nirupama the workhorse
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao has acquired a reputation of a supercharged doer in the ministry of external affairs. Not only is she constantly travelling in quest of the country’s foreign policy goals, she also manages to squeeze out a significant amount of time in ensuring that routine decision-making in the foreign ministry is not held hostage to her travel plans.
When she is in Delhi, the lights are known to shine in her room till past 10 p.m. and she not only comes to work on Saturdays but sometimes even on Sundays.
Said a senior official: “I am amazed by her energy and her quick decision-taking. Files don’t stay pending with her. She not only reads everything that is sent to her, but makes notings on them and acts on them speedily. She has infused a certain dynamism to an often slothful bureaucratic culture that perpetuates prevarication and indecisiveness.”
No doubt people are already talking about the prime minister giving her some role after she retires as foreign secretary at the end of the year.
PM looks happiest
“Whenever the Indian prime minister speaks, the whole world listens to him,” -- this was easily the most quoted one-liner among power circles in the capital. The compliment lavished by US President Barack Obama on Manmohan Singh in Toronto has come in handy for those who were wondering why Manmohan Singh looks happiest when he is in Washington.
It’s become a mutually admiring society, said an opposition politician testily. Journalists who have travelled with Manmohan Singh during his trips to the US did not fail to notice that the economist-turned-prime minister looks more relaxed and at home whenever he is in America where even former president George W. Bush heaped high praise on his leadership at every meeting.
When Manmohan Singh addressed a national press conference May 24 in the capital, he looked stiff and even sombre. Barely a month ago, he was glowing in Washington, while replying to journalists’ queries with wit and smart one-liners. In six years at the helm of the country, Manmohan Singh has visited the US for at lest half a dozen times for bilateral talks as well as multilateral summits, a record of sorts.
Jaswant’s credit war
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari is apparently unhappy over the media not giving him due credit for the re-entry of Jaswant Singh into the party.
The media instead credited party veteran L.K. Advani for the homecoming of the former external affairs minister, but Gadkari’s aides say it was the BJP chief who made the first key moves in this direction.
Gadkari went to Jaswant Singh’s residence within days of taking over as president and told him that he would work to bring him back in the party fold. It still took him six months to achieve the task, with more than a little help from Advani.
No tweeting
At the G20 Summit in Toronto last week, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev created quite a buzz when he was tweeting about his engagements.
“Met with David Cameron. Have agreed that we’ll continue to speak in person,” he tweeted about his meeting with the British premier. US President Barack Obama uses several social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Myspace and Linkedin, to reach out to people, and so does Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Communications Director Dimitri Soudas.
But the Indian side was circumspect. “Social networking sites are banned for any of us in the government,” said a top bureaucrat. “What about Shashi Tharoor?” one asked about the former minister of state for external affairs and a frequent tweeter. Pat came the reply: “He was a minister. And didn’t he get into trouble?”
‘Topi’ politics
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had a tough choice to make when she had to choose one from the two headgears she was gifted at the inauguration ceremony of the Rohtang tunnel in Himachal Pradesh.
First, it was Chief Minister P.K. Dhumal who in a welcome gesture presented a multi-coloured traditional cap from Kullu to Gandhi. The Congress chief graciously accepted the gift from the BJP leader, which was followed by a similar gesture by Virbhadra Singh, an old Congress faithful and union minister.
Singh’s green Kinnauri cap put Gandhi in a fix for a while as she apparently didn’t want to offend Dhumal by removing his gifted cap. What to do? Gandhi is never short of ideas.
She reluctantly removed the Kullu headgear for a while to wear the Kinnauri cap. But replaced Singh’s gift immediately with Dhumal’s. Anyway Gandhi looked “cute”, quipped a fan in the public rally.
British royalty
Believe it or not, the legendary sitar maestro Ravi Shankar once regaled the British royalty, including Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip and Lady Diana, at a restaurant in London because of lack of performance space.
The dining area was freed of furniture and a makeshift dais was erected for Panditji to play out Indian classical ragas, recalled a retired diplomat at a function in the capital to mark his 90th birthday.
For 35 minutes, the royalty was under the spell of Panditji’s inimitable music.
Anecdotes about Panditji flowed as diplomats, music lovers and cognoscenti munched on samosas and pakoras in an evening that celebrated one of India’s greatest musical geniuses.

 
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