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

Mamata snubs JDU's Tyagi

Illustration by Sandeep Adhwaryu

Mamata Banerjee snubbed JD(U)'s K.C. Tyagi, when Trinamul Congress MP Derek O'Brien took him to meet her this week. The West Bengal Chief Minister, who was visiting Delhi, was sitting in the Central Hall of Parliament when Tyagi approached her. The CM bluntly told Tyagi that he should instead go to the Left. Tyagi had earlier gone to Kolkata to discuss a "third front" with her, but JD(U) has been hobnobbing with the Left ever since. Several top leaders met Banerjee when she visited Parliament, including BJP's L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh, Shahnawaz Hussain and Ravi Shankar Prasad. AIADMK's Thambi Durai also called on her, apart from Jagan Mohan Reddy and several Congress leaders from Andhra Pradesh. During her two-day stay in the capital, Banerjee also held a birthday party for Trinamul Congress MP Sudip Bandopadhyay at the latter's residence. She invited several journalists and cut a cake. The next day, she held another get-together for them and treated them to a variety of fish, mutton and sweet dishes.

Rahul proves to be reclusive

Congress leaders are wondering why Rahul Gandhi is inaccessible even to party leaders. He was not available to meet Congress' only Dalit MLA elected from Delhi, Jaikishen, who tried hard for a meeting. Recently, Gandhi attended the wedding ceremony of Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan's daughter, but went away within minutes without talking to anyone. This is in stark contrast to Sonia Gandhi, who was among the first to arrive at the wedding reception of Imran Kidwai's son. She sat there and chatted with Mrs Kidwai and other Congress wives. When Rahul Gandhi arrived, he shook hands with the couple and left without mingling with the Congress crowd comprising ministers and leaders.

Pension fund needs chairman

Delhi's babudom is wondering who the new chairperson of the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) will be. The post fell vacant after chairman Yogesh Agarwal resigned three years into his five-year term. He did not specify any reasons for his resignation. Candidates have been asked to send in their applications to the PFRDA before 27 December 2013. The Central government is looking for an IAS officer for the post. Meanwhile, the 1980 batch IAS officers who were empanelled as secretaries a few weeks ago are still awaiting their postings. But they will get the promotions they are scheduled to get.

DMK hopes for alliance with BJP

The DMK is hoping to forge an alliance with the BJP in Tamil Nadu for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. It was with this in mind that DMK chief Karunanidhi and clan trooped to the wedding of journalist Cho Ramaswamy's son. Cho is considered to be BJP's "points man" in Chennai. Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, who is close to Cho, however, did not attend the wedding. Jayalalithaa is unhappy with Cho for seeking her support for Narendra Modi. She has apparently told him that he should instead ask the BJP to support her candidature for Prime Minister. Karunanidhi is willing to offer the BJP five seats to contest from. The state unit of the BJP wants seven seats. However, the BJP's central leadership does not want to join hands with a 2G-tainted DMK.

AAP won Maya's Dalit votes

Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party needs to ponder why it lost its Dalit voters to the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi. AAP fielded 12 candidates in the reserved category, nine of whom emerged victorious. Of the 12, five were Jatavs, Mayawati's main support base; four were Valmikis, who constitute the Congress' voter base in Delhi; two candidates were Kolis and one a Dhanak. Four of the five Jatavs won their seats; among the others who won are three Valmikis, a Koli and a Dhanak. AAP's symbol, broom, seems to have found a resonance among the Dalits. AAP is now planning to focus on Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. Dalit icon Kanshiram started his journey from Punjab, which has over 30% Dalit population; Haryana has 18%; while Mayawati's bastion Uttar Pradesh has 22%.

Digvijay, Mohan, Joshi, Mistry under fire after poll debacle

The rank and file of the Congress is unhappy with Rahul Gandhi's favourite AICC general secretaries, Digvijay Singh, Mohan Prakash, C.P. Joshi and Madhusudan Mistry. Mohan Prakash was in charge of Madhya Pradesh, where the Congress was defeated for a third consecutive term. In 2012, he chaired the screening committee to select candidates for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. The party received a drubbing there. He was also AICC in-charge of Gujarat, where the party lost to the BJP in December 2012. Madhusudan Mistry, who was involved in the selection of candidates in UP, was the chairman of the screening committee in MP. Congress leaders in MP are accusing Digvijay Singh of promoting factionalism in the state unit of the party. Singh was AICC in-charge of UP when the party was defeated in the Assembly elections. Resentment is high against C.P. Joshi, who selected 100 candidates in Rajasthan, not one of whom won. The Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Chandrabhan, lost his deposit. AICC secretary Sanjay Baffna lost by a margin of around 71,000 votes. Interestingly, all the candidates who won, were chosen by erstwhile Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. However, no one is sure whether any action will be taken against these general secretaries. An AICC office bearer's cynical take on the matter was, most likely they will be rewarded: "Don't you remember Prithviraj Chavan, who too presided over several electoral defeats but was made the Chief Minister of Maharashtra?"

Vasu's new team

Sanjay Malhotra, who is serving as secretary in the Department of Information Technology in Rajasthan is likely to take over as new Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's PS. Tanmay Kumar, another IAS officer, is expected to join as secretary under Malhotra, who is three batches senior to Kumar. The name of Rajiv Mehrishi, presently, secretary, chemicals, is being considered for the post of chief secretary.

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