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NORA CHOPRA
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NORA CHOPRA

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

Sitaram, Jairam mull CMP 2019

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury and Congress MP Jairam Ramesh have started calculating equations for the Lok Sabha elections of 2019. During a chance meeting on the last day of Parliament’s monsoon session, the two leaders, who had drafted the Common Minimum Programme of the UPA in 2004, hinted at a future coalition between the Congress and the CPM. While Ramesh said he was eager to jointly write the CMP for 2019 once again, Yechury nodded that “without the Left no secular alliance is possible”. Their conversation took a humorous note when the sight of CPM MP Ritabrata Banerjee standing next to Yechury prompted Ramesh to quip that “earlier we heard about Sita aur Gita (Bollywood film), but now we see Sita and Rita.”

'Wasnik is wrong choice'

The Congress rank and file in Bihar is furious at the possibility of Mukul Wasnik being given the charge of the party's ticket-screening committee for the Bihar Assembly elections. Many leaders from the state even met Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, warning them that Wasnik's elevation may cost the Congress dearly in elections. They apparently showed the party leadership details of how tickets had been given to incompetent candidates in the 2010 polls by Wasnik and his aide Prem Chand Mishra, who was later anointed as Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson.

Dwivedi, chavan did not attend protests by party

Congress' Parliament logjam was a misfire. Not only did the public find such strategy regressive, some Congress leaders too are unhappy with the move. One of them is Janardan Dwivedi, who stayed away from the party's protests against the government. He has admitted as much to his confidants. Rumour is mounting that he may even desert the Congress. Another leader who did not participate in the protests was former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. Chavan is also under the scanner for his overtures to the BJP. This has prompted Rahul Gandhi to look for a new Pradesh Congress Committee chief in Maharashtra, a portfolio which Chavan currently holds.

RJD faces exodus

All is not well with Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal Party. If RJD sources are to be believed, Lalu is facing an exodus of at least 15 of 22 of his MLAs to the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the elections. In fact, one of the MLAs has also invited a BJP Central minister to unveil his father's statue. Lalu "confidant" Prem Gupta is said to be the mediator between the RJD MLAs and the BJP.

Sharma wants the impossible

Former special director of CBI, M.L. Sharma, who is probing former agency director Ranjit Sinha's alleged meetings with some coal and 2G accused, wants his SIT to have the authority to search and seize. Considering the government is unlikely to set a new precedence by giving police power to a SIT, one wonders what Sharma is up to. Is he thus delaying the investigation, which the Supreme Court asked him to conduct?

Sabir may get Rajya Sabha berth

Sabir Ali, who had crossed over from the Janata Dal United to the BJP on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections last year may now get a Rajya Sabha berth for trying to bring the Muslim community closer to the BJP. This may come as a blow to Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who had earlier made his aversion to Ali clear. There is some talk of even a family member of former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam getting a Rajya Sabha seat.

Bangladeshi sweets for PM

Syed Mauzam Ali, the high commissioner of Bangladesh, who gifted the hilsa fish from the Padma river to President Pranab Mukherjee, switched to sweets when he called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is because Modi is a vegetarian, unlike Mukherjee, who, being a Bengali, relishes his ilish machh. Ali was much relived to hear from the PM himself that he has been fond of Bangladeshi sweets ever since somebody gifted him the same when he was Gujarat Chief Minister.

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