Down In The Dump
The outcome of UP assembly polls seems to have sent the future Prime Minister and Gandhi scion into a deep introspection mode. The celebrations, rather the absence of them, clearly reflected the mood of the Yuvraj. June 19—which happens to be Rahul Gandhi’s birthday—is generally celebrated with vigour and party workers across the country gather at 24 Akbar Road. This time it was a different scene altogether. Barring few posters, there was no activity outside his residence. When a journalist questioned a staff on the stark difference in celebrations, the staff said, “Baba is feeling low after Uttar Pradesh results.” The party workers really understand Baba’s mood and are not in a mood to offend “the future Prime Minister”.
Now when Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is all set to be the next President of India, the 10 Janpath loyalists are eyeing Finance Ministry. The names which are doing rounds in the media include Jairam Ramesh, C Rangarajan and P Chidambaram among others. When senior journalists started taking reactions from ministers whose names were doing rounds, some of them declined to comment. Chidambaram, when asked, when he is shifting to his new office, responded, “I am changing my face.” A veteran journalist suggested to the Home Minister that he should try and assess the likings of Sonia Gandhi before he goes for the makeover.
The Prime Task
The strategies for 2014 general elections have already started. While the choice within Congress is more or less clear, it’s the BJP which needs caution while deciding on the top job keeping the situation under control within the NDA. While the Chief Ministers of Gujarat and Bihar don’t see eye to eye. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar recently said that the prime ministerial candidate should have a “clean and secular” image—his target being Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. A top BJP leader quipped that they had a challenging task ahead as thay first needed to define “secular” before they decided on the prime ministerial candidate.
Defence Minister AK Antony’s clean image seems to be the target of everybody now. First it was Gen VK Singh, now the baton is held by his own wife, Elizabeth. The fresh controversy erupted after reports that Elizabeth’s paintings were bought by the cash-strapped Air India for a whopping sum of Rs 28 crore. Elizabeth, a painter by hobby, had her paintings exhibited at the India Habitat Centre in December last year. Airports Authority of India bought few paintings for an undisclosed sum. Elizabeth, however, responded, “The exhibition had a total of 24 art exhibits, which were sold for a cumulative Rs. 16 lakh.” Commenting on the entire episode a Congress leader said, “It is an irony that the blame comes on you even when money goes to somebody else’s account.”