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

Chavan posters, ads strike wrong note in Congress

Congress leaders in Maharashtra are upset with former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan for projecting himself as the party's chief ministerial candidate. Chavan is the only Congress leader who can be seen on posters and television advertisements ahead of the elections. No other leader finds any mention anywhere. This has upset other CM aspirants like Narayan Rane, who is the chief of the Congress' state election campaign committee and whose rivalry with Chavan is legendary. Rane is openly telling his supporters that Chavan is a former CM, while he is currently the chief of the campaign committee, so he will be made CM after the elections. The others hoping to be Chief Minister include Balasaheb Vikhe Patil, Balasahab Thorat and even Adarsh tainted former CM Ashok Chavan. It is a different matter though that all these dreams may come to naught as the Congress may not come anywhere close to power.

Illustrations by Sandeep Adhwaryu
Biz group defaults on salaries

A well-known, but controversial business group with varied interests ranging from real estate to hospitality and sports, is finding it difficult to pay salaries to its employees. It has not paid salaries to its senior management since August. And now the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has asked the company to hand over its employees' PF money to the government instead of keeping it in the company managed funds.

Congress wants J&K polls on time

The Congress is putting pressure on the Election Commission to hold Assembly elections in Jammu & Kashmir by January. This is primarily because the Rajya Sabha terms of both Ghulam Nabi Azad and Saifuddin Soz expire in February 2015. Without an Assembly in place it will not be possible to get the two Congress leaders back in the Rajya Sabha from J&K. Thus the Congress will have to do without two of its most important leaders in the Upper House, at least for a while. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's People's Democratic Party too wants early elections in the state, but not Omar Abdullah or the BJP. Abdullah is not sure of returning to power, while the BJP wants to impose Governor's Rule on the state once the tenure of the National Conference-Congress government gets over. Thus the BJP will gain indirect control of J&K before elections are held.

Sushma's friend in U.S.

Hillary Clinton and Sushma Swaraj hugging each other during the latter's trip to the United States was no surprise. The two have had several meetings over the years, both officially and personally. The warmth of their relationship came as an eye opener to many who did not take Sushma Swaraj seriously, especially now that there is a possibility that Clinton may be a contender for the post of US President in two years' time.

Jaikishen is in demand

Delhi MLA Jaikishen of the Congress, a Balmiki by caste, is in great demand in both Haryana and Maharashtra. The Congress leadership is trying to project him as the Dalit face of the party in these states, particularly Haryana, which has a Dalit population of 22%. This is quite a change from the time when the Congress was ignoring him completely, so much so that Jaikishen was thinking of joining the BJP. Now that it is under pressure, the Congress has discovered Jaikishen's caste.

No madison in australia

Buoyed by the success of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Madison Square Garden address, some BJP leaders are toying with the idea of organising a similar event when the PM goes to Australia for the G20 meeting. However, other BJP leaders say that such an event will be seen as nothing but a futile attempt to draw away attention from leaders like Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel, who will attend the meeting. More importantly, it is too early to organise a similar exercise as the Madison Square Garden event.

Rahul misses Shashi meeting

Shashi Tharoor chaired a meeting of the Standing Committee of Parliament on External Affairs, on Tuesday. Rahul Gandhi, in spite of being a member of the committee did not attend the meeting, even though he was in Delhi. The rumour mills have gone on an overdrive ever since, speculating that the Congress will take action against Tharoor for accepting the Prime Minister's invitation to join the Clean India campaign.

Orissa police unhappy with Naveen

The Orissa police is unhappy with the hands-off approach of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who also holds the home portfolio. The home department, under which the police comes, is being run unofficially by two of the CM's confidants, IAS officers V.K. Pandian (principal secretary to the CM) and Upendra Behera (home secretary until recently). To add to this, vacancies are not being filled up. Orissa has four DGP-rank posts, of which three are vacant. The name of Benoy Behera, additional DG, was cleared for the post of DGP six months ago. But the CM is yet to issue the notification confirming the appointment. In the Home Guards, one inspector general, P. Acharya has been promoted to Additional DG, but is yet to get his posting. Similarly, six IPS officers, who have been elevated to the rank of IG have not yet been given their charge.

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