One nation, one poll
The talk is Modi 2.0 has hit the ground running. The all-party meeting called to discuss simultaneous polls was seen as a sign of that. Much of the opposition staying away from the meet is hardly making a difference - given the shrunken state of the Indian opposition - from the idea taking form through a five-member committee, the terms and conditions of which are being drawn. The big buzz is LK Advani is likely to be sounded out for the chairmanship of the committee. In case he declines, Murli Manohar Joshi could be tapped next.
Former CEC N Gopalaswami is also expected to bring his expertise onto the committee as member. The government is also looking out for a legal-constitutional expert and someone with knowledge of simultaneous election procedures elsewhere, like Germany. The committee would be given a three-month time-frame to come up with a report. In other words, the government has no intention of sitting on the idea.
Next IB chief
The incumbent IB chief Rajiv Jain’s term will end by June 30. Both he and RAW chief Anil Dhasmana were give six months extension last December. Whoever succeeds Jain - it could be a surprise given the government track record (no one had betted on Om Birla becoming the Lok Sabha Speaker!) - make no mistake, it would be Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s pick.
Unless, of course, Jain is given another extension, at the cost of the second on the ladder, Arvind Kumar. Well, as things stands now, the IB chief is first briefing HM, then PM and the NSA thereafter. Needless to say, even Sardar Patel was not such a big presence on the block. The buzz is, the nitty-gritty of governance is being left to the unofficial No.2, while the PM is left to focus on larger issues on the global stage.
Dinner for the envoys
Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale’s Saturday dinner for the envoys at a Delhi five-star hotel assumed significance for obvious reasons. After all, it was the first time Jaishankar met the ambassadors and the high commissioners residing in Delhi in his new foreign minister avatar. The fact that Pakistan HC Moin-ul-Haq was invited became a point to note. But New Delhi’s foreign office pointed out, “everyone was invited, no question of or occasion to leave anyone out”, that courtesy “is extended” to one and all. Jaishankar’s predecessor also met the envoys on two such dinners.
Statesman zinda hai!
Social media can sometimes really get the goat of anyone. The management of The Statesman newspaper - the oldest English daily from Kolkata - had to put out a disclaimer, saying it has not shut shop. This was after several evocative articles (euphemism for obit) was written out on the once legendary paper’s glorious past. All after a meme went around announcing the death of the paper!
It seems the defection saga of TDP Rajya Sabha members was being written for the last three months. Chandrababu Naidu was informed by two of them, much before he left for his Europe trip. After the switch of the four - T G Venkatesh, Y S Chowdary, G M Rao and C M Ramesh - to the BJP was clinched, Vice President and RS Chairman Venkaiah Naidu appeared a bit taken aback.
But he endorsed the breakaway MPs’ change of bench promptly, as a majority of them in the Upper House were involved. In the meeting with the PM that followed, Chowdary in particular has been asked to focus on the Kamma community. And to take on both Babu and the new CM, Jagan Mohan Reddy.