The Congress was skeptical from the start about ministry formation in Maharashtra.
Keeper of the word
In the face of persistent questioning by Opposition members at a meeting of the parliamentary panel on electronics and information technology, Union additional secretary Gopalakrishnan S., remained unperturbed. He didn’t alter his stand maintaining that the government was not aware of the identities of the 121 Indian citizens who were affected by the Pegasus spyware used to penetrate the WhatsApp messaging app. Impressed by his cryptic and stoic replies, panel member and Congress leader Karti Chidambaram could not resist telling Mr Gopalakrishnan that if he [Chidambaram junior] ever has the fortune of becoming a minister, he would hire Mr Gopalakrishnan to be his spokesperson.
Chief whip coveted post
It has been months since Congress chief whip Bhubaneshwar Kalita left the party during the monsoon session of Parliament, but his successor is nowhere in sight. There are many aspirants but a tussle between two Congress stalwarts, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma is said to be creating a hurdle. Many Congress MPs eye the chief whip’s post as it brings a sense of importance to the house and offers ample opportunities to interact with Union ministers and the chair.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh is surprised over the hullabaloo over the induction of Bhopal MP (and terror accused) Pragya Singh Thakur into the consultative committee of the ministry of defence. Mr Singh attributes the uproar to media and Opposition ignorance. According to him, unlike the parliamentary standing committee of various ministries (and other parliamentary panels), consultative committees are entirely pro-forma bodies performing no functions and having a minor, ceremonial role.
Shah is king
Officials in the government’s Press Information Bureau appear to be vying for a place in home minister Amit Shah’s secretariat. Customarily, the Union home ministry has had two members of Indian Information Service handling the minister’s official press and information related issues. But apparently, there are five PIB personnel parked the home ministry now. This in itself speaks about the stature of Mr Shah.
Can Pawar break the hex?
The Congress was skeptical from the start about ministry formation in Maharashtra. When the Congress Working Committee had met for the first time to give its “go-ahead”, an “inauspicious” occurrence took place that made many wise and Brahmin leaders of the Grand Old Party a bit wary. It so happened that during the CWC meet, coffee spilled on Mallikarjun Kharge’s “kurta”. Mr Kharge, who is AICC general secretary in charge of Maharashtra, called up his residence and changed his kurta within minutes, but the doubting Thomases were heard whispering, “yeh to apshakun ho gaya (this is inauspicious)”. Would Sharad Pawar prove them wrong? Facing a rebellion from nephew Ajit Pawar, he has sent word to both the Congress and the Shiv Sena to keep their flocks together. The senior Pawar is reportedly confident of bringing everyone back — including Ajit.
Union parliamentary affairs minister Prahlad Joshi has not moved into 10, Akbar Road. The house was allotted to former Union minister Mahesh Sharma. In the past, it belonged to former Union ministers Manohar Parrikar and Rajesh Pilot. Some leaders do not consider the house too auspicious. So, the dithering continues.