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NORA CHOPRA
BUZZWORD
NORA CHOPRA

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

Ajit wants Rajya Sabha berth, Amar is main competitor

Rashtriya Lok Dal leader and former Union minister Ajit Singh wants to enter Parliament through the Rajya Sabha. He has lost his Baghpat Lok Sabha seat to BJP's Satyapal Singh, but does not want to lose his MP bungalow on Tughlaq Road where he has been staying for 18 years. The bungalow also houses the Charan Singh Kisan Trust. Ten Rajya Sabha seats are getting vacant in Uttar Pradesh in November. Out of this, six will go to the Samajwadi Party, two to the BSP, and one each to the BJP and Congress-RLD alliance. The Congress and RLD together have 28 and nine MLAs, respectively, a total of 37 votes, the number required to get one member elected. But his main hurdle is party colleague Amar Singh, a sitting Rajya Sabha member, who wants a re-nomination. Amar Singh was sent to the Upper House by the Samajwadi Party in 2008. Since the SP is divided over taking him back and offering him an RS berth, Amar Singh is eyeing the seat from the Congress-RLD quota and wants Mulayam's help in convincing the Congress. Ajit Singh, in the meanwhile, has found a supporter in K.C. Tyagi, Janata Dal's (United) Rajya Sabha member from Bihar. Tyagi met Mulayam to say that Ajit Singh should be allowed to retain his house as his father Charan Singh's name is associated with it. There is speculation that the JDU is trying to bring together the Congress, RLD and SP to stop the BJP, similar to the alliance in Bihar between sworn enemies Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav.

Illustrations by Sandeep Adhwaryu
Needed, a frugal Governor

The Kerala government is much relieved that Sheila Dikshit has resigned from her post as Governor. The state is now hoping that the Centre will give it a Governor who is frugal in his/her taste. Dikshit's 167-day stint as Governor was a burden on the state's exchequer.

SwapanDasgupta may be sent to UK as envoy

The buzz is that journalist Swapan Dasgupta, who gave up his career to work for the Bharatiya Janata Party, is all set to bag the high profile post of India's envoy to the United Kingdom. Thus, he will replace career diplomat Ranjan Mathai, who was earlier Foreign Secretary. L.K. Advani brought Dasgupta to politics by making him a member of the BJP's think-tank. Dasgupta has been waiting in the wings for years and will be rewarded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for switching his loyalties to him. But some people say that Dasgupta does not have the stature for the UK job.

Swapan Dasgupta
NBT in need of director
Dr M.A. Sikandar

National Book Trust director, Dr M.A. Sikandar, who was selected by the then HRD minister Kapil Sibal, completed his term on 31 July. He is on a three-month extension, of which one month is already over. However, the Ministry of Human Resources Development is yet to issue an advertisement looking for another candidate. Sikander, meanwhile, is pushing files around, without taking any decisions.

Jairam is an agile politician

Jairam Ramesh's agility is surprising all in the Congress. He has changed loyalties with aplomb from Ambika Soni to Ahmad Patel and now to Rahul Gandhi and his coterie. At the same time, he is in the good books of the camp surrounding Sonia Gandhi. Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Rahul camp suggested his name as election campaign coordinator. It was readily accepted by the Sonia camp as he was on their list too.

Jairam Ramesh
Khurshid proffers strange logic

At a Congress briefing, when Salman Khurshid was asked why he was working as the defence lawyer of Asaram Bapu, a rape accused, he retorted, "Please do not ask me questions about my profession when I am performing my political duty." This was ironic considering he had spent the entire briefing attacking the BJP and Arun Jaitley, respectively, for allegedly "shielding a rape accused minister" and describing the 16 December 2012 rape as "a small incident".

Foreign vendors hoping RBI will reverse decision

Overseas companies like Apple, Google and Amazon, among others, are in a bind after Reserve Bank of India (RBI) made it mandatory for all credit card transactions to have a two-stage verification process. These vendors store credit card data and allow simple app-based purchases without asking customers to provide additional information apart from what is listed on the card. While Indian banks use the two-stage process, foreign banks do not. These companies are now hoping that the RBI decision will be reversed.

BJP is having second thoughts about Haryana

The BJP is having second thoughts about going it alone in Haryana. Intelligence reports have warned the party against the three-way division of anti-Congress votes among the BJP, Kuldeep Bishnoi's Haryana Janhit Congress and Om Prakash Chautala's Indian National Lok Dal, thus giving an advantage to the Congress. Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal is putting pressure on the BJP to tie up with the INLD. The absence of a chief ministerial face is being seen as another drawback for the BJP in the state. The party's decision to project Chaudhary Birender Singh, earlier of the Congress, as a Jat leader too has not gone down well with the its cadre in the state. Sushma Swaraj, who belongs to Haryana, is not part of the deliberations on the elections.

Congress takes out frustration on journalists

The Congress seems to be taking out its poll-frustration on journalists. At a recent press briefing, a reporter asked Shakeel Ahmad why Congress spokespersons were talking in different voices about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 15 August speech. He pointed out that while Manish Tewari criticised the speech, Abhishek Manu Singhvi praised it. When Singhvi got information about the question, he immediately wrote to Sonia Gandhi saying that he never went against the party line. He alleged that Manish Tewari got the question planted against him through one of his associates, Arvind Choudhury. The poor journalist is now going around explaining to everyone that his was a genuine question and that he did not meet Choudhury. Meanwhile, Choudhury has been barred from entering the AICC. In a separate incident, an AICC general secretary targeted another journalist for quoting him while writing a critical report on the Congress: "Aap se kaun likhwata hai (who is asking you to write all this against me)?" The journalist was shocked to hear this charge.

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