Hemmed in by protocol
Vice president Venkaiah Naidu misses the hullabaloo of political and ministerial engagements. So much so that he called a select group of media over on the pretext of giving them a tour of the vice presidential residence—shared his plans of converting a prayer hall built by his predecessor Hamid Ansari into a meeting room, showed them the Hanuman mandir and mosque inside the sprawling bungalow. In between, let it be known that he feels hemmed by the protocol of the constitutional job.
This, even as he highlighted his new work as VP and chairman Rajya Sabha, the internal probe he has ordered into the ‘wasteful expenditure’ by the RSTV. But Venkaiah is obviously struggling hard to keep his talent for punning in check. At former CEC S Y Qureshi’s book launch, he could not help take pot-shots at Rahul Gandhi. “Dynasty is nasty in democracy, but in India it’s tasty for some!’’ he quipped, only to be panned in the social media.
Who’ll Shah pick?
While on Venkaiah Naidu, his departure from the BJP has left high-level vacancies in the party decision-making bodies, particularly the parliamentary board. The speculation is that Amit Shah will pick up some one from the south to fill in gap, mindful of the north-south balance. Already elevated to the Cabinet Committee on Security, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman could be the choice. Ram Madhav’s name is also doing the rounds. Also from the South, Madhav is likely to be appointed the parliamentary secretary and inducted to RS later.
After Shobha Oza, Congress organisational secretary Janardan Dwivedi’s other protégé Mohan Prakash thas been shunted out. Prakash was the AICC Madhya Pradesh in-charge and once considered close to Rahul Gandhi. But now that Rahul’s getting ready to take over the reign of the party, he’s preferring to place his Lok Sabha team-mates in key positions—firebrand MP Sushmita Deb’s appointment as Mahila Congress chief succeeding Oza is done, next Jyotiraditya Scindia is expected to be named as the Madhya Pradesh PCC chief. Veteran Kamal Nath will be placated as the MP campaign committee chief. Finally, the three main factions in MP Congress—Nath, Scindia and Digvijaya Singh—may be putting their differences behind to work together in the coming polls.
Much is being said about why Rajiv Pratap Rudy lost his job and Uma Bharati her Ganga Ministry. Apparently, both have been flying in expensive wood panels to set up ‘flying houses’. The PMO got wind of the fact and the word reached the PM. Modi’s said to abhor any form of ostentation among his Cabinet colleagues. Bharati’s proximity to the RSS and her capability for high drama saved her from the axe, but Rudy had no such advantage. He did knock the divine doors through a 48-hour-long ‘havan’ in his native village in Bihar, but to little avail. Also, Bharati’s door panel was cheaper than Rudy’s. Nonetheless, the latter is expected to get some responsibility in the party soon. So, would Bandaru Dattatreya and Kalraj Mishra. Along with the renegade Congressman, S M Krishna, Dattatreya and Mishra are expected to head to the Raj Bhawans soon.
Nitish Kumar may have ejected Lalu Prasad Yadav and sons from his government, but Lalu’s having the last laugh on twitter. The RJD chief has become the first Bihar politician to touch a 2 million following on the micro-blogging site—a fact that he announced with much fanfare. Kumar with only 1.6 m followers has another headache. He badly wants his Sharad Yadav disqualified from Rajya Sabha, but the RS Secretariat is not sure the rules and precedence favour such a course of action
The author is Political Editor, TNIE.