Tale of two Thomases
Why is the UPA government so keen to maintain the controversial Central Vigilance Commissioner PJ Thomas on his post? It is said that this is because of electoral calculations in Kerala, where the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) is in power and it expects to stage a comeback in the assembly polls, due in May this year. Thomas belongs to the Syro-Malabar section of Catholics, who form a crucial vote bank in at least 25 of the 141 constituencies in the southern state. The majority of the community members support the UDF. In fact, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has used the recent union cabinet reshuffle to please the different religious and caste groups in Kerala. KC Venugopal, a member of the Nair community, has been inducted as a new minister into the union cabinet, while Vayalar Ravi, who belongs to the Ezhava community, has been given an additional portfolio of civil aviation. E Ahamed, the lone Muslim minister from the state, has been shifted to the high-profile Ministry of External Affairs. KV Thomas, who was the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, has been promoted as minister with independent charge. While Minister KV Thomas, who belongs to another Catholic faction—the Latin Catholics—has been promoted, how can the UPA let PJ Thomas down, who belongs to the Syro-Malabar Catholics, on election eve?
The hottest bet in Capital’s satta market is whether Rahul Gandhi will marry in 2011 or not. There were rumours recently that the 40-year-old Nehru-Gandhi family scion has been engaged—only to be stoutly denied in Congress circles. But the corridors of power are rife with the rumous that the lucky girl belongs to Rajasthan and one of her relatives is a dedicated Congress worker and an MP. Everyone is surprised by the choice of Rahul Baba. But few are aware of the Italian connection of that relation. In fact, family business of that MP is that of Italian marbles. It is said that this Italian connection has played an important role in the search of Rahul Baba’s dream girl.
The country had witnessed a fully defunct Parliament session in winter on corruption issue. But the ruling party Congress has not learnt any lesson, as corruption is still not an issue for Congress. It believes that when the whole country has become corrupt, why to blame only it. One spokesperson of Congress expressed similar views while interacting with the media. He said that 95 per cent people, who had come for any work to them, had come for some illegal work. Their plea was if their work had been legally correct, why they would have needed any assistance. The spokesperson admitted that they do corrupt practices but only on the public demand!
Apart from the Opposition parties, Congress has to handle its alliance partners too. Its coalition partners have their own agendas, which create troubles for Congress in many ways. This was seen during the previous all-party meeting called by UPA. The one and only agenda of the meeting was to discuss the issue of JPC with the Opposition parties mainly with BJP so that the next session of the Parliament could run smoothly. But TMC, one of the close allies of UPA, had different plans and raised the issue of price rise. It is noteworthy that TMC has other preferences as elections are due this year in West Bengal.