Nora Chopra is a senior journalist with a finger on the pulse of the Indian political scene

Rahul tries to pacify Rane

Rahul Gandhi may have offered Narayan Rane the post of Pradesh Congress Committee chief in Maharashtra, replacing Manikrao Thakre. Rane, who wants to be Chief Minister, has walked out of the Prithviraj Chavan government and has served an ultimatum to the Congress high command that he will quit the party unless Chavan is removed. The grapevine says that Sonia Gandhi asked her son to intervene and give Rane the MPCC proposal. Rane may also get the final say in the selection of candidates for the Maharashtra Assembly elections.

Illustrations by Sandeep Adhwaryu
Mohanty, Gowda are new members of Rahul brigade
Sucharita Mohanty

Sucharita Mohanty and Rajiv Gowda are two new members of the Rahul Gandhi coterie who need to be watched. Mohanty, an ex journalist, contested the Lok Sabha elections from Orissa, but lost, apparently because of the lack of funds. Rahul Gandhi has now given her the job of monitoring the media. Rajiv Gowda, an IITian, who was made a Rajya Sabha member on Gandhi's behest, will be included in the media team of the Congress. A non political man, Gowda was launched on Monday as a party spokesperson. On that day he was sent for the party's press briefing along with Randeep Surjewala to learn the ways of handling the media.

Smriti is a regular at Amethi

Rahul Gandhi, who won his Lok Sabha seat from Amethi after great difficulty, has visited his constituency only once after the elections, even as he travels all over the world. His opponent Smriti Irani, who lost the election, however, has been visiting Amethi regularly. She has been interacting with the constituents. She is targeting the Assembly elections where she wants the BJP to win handsomely.

Congress cannot look beyond Dynasty
Dinesh Gundu Rao

Rahul Gandhi's talk about bringing democracy in the Congress and Youth Congress may turn out of be just that, talk. He has been saying that he wants to promote people from the grassroots in the Youth Congress by holding elections. But take the instance of Karnataka, where even after these "democratic elections", 50% of Youth Congress members who have been elected to different posts are children of Congress leaders. Even in the Karnataka Assembly, of the 122 MLAs who were elected last year, two dozen are children of party leaders. Some of them are Dinesh Gundu Rao, son of ex Chief Minister Gundu Rao; Priyank Kharge, son of former Union minister Mallikarjun Kharge; Ajay Singh, son of ex CM Dharam Singh; Kumar Bangarappa, son of ex CM Bangarappa; Rahman Sharief, son of C.K. Jaffer Sharief, former Union minister.

Kamala Kumari is forgotten

Does anyone remember K. Kamala Kumari who died last week? A two-time MP from Andhra Pradesh, Kamala Kumari was a minister in the P.V. Narasimha Rao Cabinet. Before her death she was a member of the Scheduled Tribes Commission. But no one either in Parliament or the Andhra Pradesh or Telangana Assembly bothered to mourn her death.

Kamala Kumari
Maran gets a ‘lobbyist’
Dayanidhi Maran

An illustrious lady editor of a Chennai-based newspaper was seen lobbying with minsters in the Narendra Modi government on behalf of DMK's Dayanidhi Maran. The case pertains to Maran's involvement in the Aircel-Maxis deal, where he, when he was a minister in the UPA government, allegedly arm twisted Aircel's Sivasankaran to sell his stake to T. Ananda Krishnan, whose Malaysian company then invested Rs 650 cr in the Sun TV Network owned by the Maran family.

UP government sits on officers’ Central deputation

The Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh is giving a hard time to more than half a dozen IAS officers empanelled for Central deputation. These officers have been waiting for a "no objection certificate" from the Akhilesh Yadav government for the past two years. The most prominent among them is former UP chief secretary Javed Usmani, who was removed after the SP performed miserably in the Lok Sabha elections. Senior officers like Durga Shankar Mishra, Net Ram and Fateh Bahadur, who were close to the then Chief Minister Mayawati of the BSP, too are yet to be given the NOC. Another officer close to Mayawati, J.N. Chamber has somehow managed to get an NOC after much pursuing. But officers such as Vijay Shankar Pandey, Shashi Prakash Goyal, Sanjay Agarwal, Anant Kumar Singh and Jivesh Nandan have had no such luck. More than a dozen IPS officers too are awaiting the nod from the UP government.

UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav along with other party leaders.
TMC MP Stops attending house

Trinamool Congress' Rajya Sabha member, Debabrata Bandopadhyaya was once among the most regular faces in Parliament. He would not miss a single day of any Parliament session. But he stopped attending Parliament in the last two sessions. He is upset with the CBI which has lodged an FIR against him, and a few other MPs, both ex and present, for allegedly misappropriating their travel allowances. It is being said that the 80-year-old MP is shocked that such a charge has been levelled against him, especially since in his entire career no one has ever pointed a finger of accusation at him on any matter.

Debabrata Bandopadhyaya
Shambhu singh has been around from V.P. Singh’s time

Who is V.K. Singh's "attaché" Shambhu Prasad Singh? A former defence contractor, who is being probed by the CBI, Shambhu Prasad has been moving around the corridors of power from the time when V.P. Singh was Prime Minister in 1989-1990. At the time he was a personal staff member of MP Sanjay Singh, the "Raja of Amethi", who later joined the Congress and is now Rajya Sabha member from Assam. Shambhu Prasad worked with two BJP ministers in the Atal Behari Vajpayee Cabinet. It was at this time that his name cropped up in a disproportionate assets case. In the first Manmohan Singh government, he was attached to the RJD minister Taslimuddin before venturing into NGOs. He belongs to Kolkata's twin city Howrah. Recently he was spotted helping V.K. Singh during the latter's election campaign. And now he is in the government despite the ban imposed by Narendra Modi on recruiting personal staff without proper checks. The question being asked is, whether the general knew about his attaché's background or whether he was duped.

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