Tuesday, March 20, 2012

PM makes Mukul Railway Minister, offers no tea

PM refuses to drink tea with Mukul Roy

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh refused to sit with the newly inducted Railway Minister Mukul Roy at the Rashtrapati Bhawan today for a customary cup of tea. After the swearing-in-ceremony of Mukul Roy as Cabinet Minister, high tea is served by the President to the guests. But the Prime Minister refused to sit with Roy and did not take the tea or refreshments with him. He rather opted to leave the venue immediately after the swearing-in-ceremony.

Strangely, the PM did not offer to tea to Mamata Banerjee yesterday when she met him in his chamber in Parliament House along with Mukul Roy. She wanted Mukul Roy to be the Railway Minister and PM was against it. He did not agree to promote Roy on the ground that there are several reports against him. He was ready to make anybody as the railway minister but not to Mukul Roy. However, Mamata remained adamant. The PM gave in yesterday..

But during the 35-minute meeting, the PM offered no tea to both of them. It is now clear that there is no love-lost between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Trinamool Congress.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ahluwalia denied Rajya Sabha seat, Sushma sulking,Gadkari smiling

In an unexpected development, BJP president Nitin Gadkari denied party ticket to deputy leader in the Rajya sabha S S Ahluwalia. Ahluwalia is a Rajya Sabha MP from Jharkhand and his term is expiring on April 2. Since he is considered a senior leader, his re-nomination was never in doubt. The BJP leadership, however, made it clear to him that alliance partner JMM leader Shibu Soren is unwilling to share the RS seat and therefore, party won’t contest. But what shocked the BJP insiders was that it encouraged Anshuman Mishra, a London-based NRI businessman to file the nomination as an Independent and party’s 18 MLAs would vote for him. He will have to manage the rest from JMM and others. The fight will become interesting as another industrialist Pawan Dhoot has also filed papers for the RS seat as an Independent. This is bound to create problems for the Congress nominee Balmuchu.

Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj who was strongly pitching for Ahluwalia, wanted him to be fielded from Bihar. But Gadkari decided to give tickets to Ravi Shanker Prasad and Dharmendra Pradhan for the two clear seats.  He wanted JD (U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to give BJP the third Rajya Sabha seat as it has 23 MLAs in the Bihar Assembly and JD (U) has 11 extra votes. It is learnt that Sushma wanted Ahluwalia be given the second seat instead of third uncertain seat. But Gadkari stood firm and indicated that Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and the RSS leadership is keen for Dharmendra Pradhan.  Even L K Advani wanted Ahluwalia to be accommodated. But Gadkari remained unmoved.

It was curtains for Ahluwalia and  for the third seat businessman R K Sinha, a confidante of Murli Manohar Joshi,  was given the ticket. The JD(U) has fielded its own candidate also.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Najma Gets Rajya Sabha seat

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya sabha Arun Jaitley (Gujrat),  Ravi Shanker Prasad, chief general secretary of the BJP (Bihar) are among those nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the BJP high command tonight. Najma Heptulla former deputy chairman of the rajya sabha also got the nomination from Madhya Pradesh. 
The BJP is projecting its secular face and Nitin Gadkari sent the signal by nominating Najma Heptulla. There is speculation that M J Akbar may emerge as a common candidate from Bihar of the BJP-JD(U) or the 6th Rajya sabha seat though Mr Sharad Yadav, JD(U) president is keen for K C Tyagi to be inducted. 
The names of remaining 13 candidates of the party are also in the process of being formally announced. Karuna Shukla, a niece of Atal Behari Vajpayee who was eyeing the seat from chhatisgarh, failed to make it at the last minute.

Trivedi's Nehru connection

Can anybody unfold the mystery as to why Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi thought he will be a martyr like Bhagat Singh or Khudiram Bose ? Who injected it into his head ? Arun Nehru, his original mentor ?

What's common between Dinesh and 'Dada'

From two Paisa to 2%

If Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi raised rail fares by a mere two paisa per km, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee also chose the magic figure of 2% to mop up Rs 40000 crores in his Budget. Whether it was Excise duty or service tax,  Mukherjee stuck to the 2% figure.

Why the two ministers hit upon the figure of two, no one is sure. But the effect of  two paisa and 2%  will be cascading for Sonia Gandhi’s Aam Aadmi.

If service tax hike of 2% will hit the common man hard in day-today life,  excise duty hike of 2% will make life more miserable later as manufacturing will go up across the board. House wife’s budget is set to go up in flames and even a marginal relief in Income-tax up to Rs 2 lakhs will be hardly of any consequence.

Price of  petrol, diesel and Gas will be hiked separately by the oil companies through an executive order. May be, after consulting the allies before taking hard decisions as Pranab Mukherjee would not like to roll back. The Rail Minister’s roll back itself is a big shock to be absorbed.

Mamata has already signaled by saying that the Budget is “tolerable.”

As if this will not be enough, Mukherjee again brought out the figure of two when he said that subsidies will be restricted to 2% in the coming year. He wants to save at least Rs 20000 crores on subsidies.

Long live Sonia Gandhi’s Aam Aadmi.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Kalam refuses to be Opposition's Presidential candidate

Kalam refuses to be Opposition candidate for President

Former President A P J Abdul Kalam has conveyed to his well-wishers in the non-UPA parties that he is not interested in contesting for the post of the President again.

An up-beat non-UPA parties who have a majority of popular votes in Parliament and also in majority of State Assemblies, had informally sounded Prof Kalam. Since some of the UPA allies including TMC have been publicly throwing tantrums, the Opposition is contemplating to put the government on the mat in the Presidential polls. It was considered that Kalam will be the most acceptable face if the UPA decides to put up Vice President Hamid Ansari for the President’s post.

But Kalam made it clear that he is not interested in going back to the Raisina Hills. There is no question of his becoming a common Opposition candidate either. At best, he may re-consider his decision if all parties are unanimously willing to accept his candidature.

The Opposition parties may have to look for another acceptable face and other names being considered for the post are former West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishan Gandhi, NDA Convenor Sharad Yadav or an octogenarian more acceptable to all. Sharad Yadav is secular and may be acceptable to entire non-NDA secular parties including SP, BSP and the Left.

Well done Dr Kalam