God’s own party
In Mizoram, which sees Assembly polls in November, the Opposition Mizo National Front (MNF) has picked on a 2011 photograph of Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla (Congress) and his wife lighting a candle before an idol of Durga. The same year, the chief minister had broken a coconut to inaugurate a public building. The MNF argues this has hurt Christian sentiment. It has called for a protest on 23 May. The Congress has hit back, saying Vakkom Purushothaman, the governor, is a Hindu but attends church services. So what’s the big deal?
Lady From Berlin
India is set to get its second female foreign secretary later this summer. A close race for the top job in the Ministry of External Affairs seems to have been won by Sujatha Singh, ambassador to Germany. PS Raghavan, another senior IFS officer, is likely to succeed her in Berlin. Singh is from the 1976 batch and remarkably well-connected. Her father, TV Rajeshwar, is a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau and reputed to be close to the Gandhi family. Her husband, Sanjay Singh, has just retired as secretary (east). He has been replaced by Ashok Kanth, ambassador in Colombo and son-in-law of BJP politician Yashwant Sinha.
Some 15 hours after he got back to his native Rampur from the US — frisking, questioning and all — UP Urban Development Minister Mohammad Azam Khan flew to Johannesburg on a chartered flight. He was off to attend the wedding of the niece of NRI businessman Ajay Gupta, who has roots in Saharanpur. Accompanying Khan were Shivpal Yadav, Mulayam’s brother, Assembly Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey and some 300 others. Oh the lure of foreign lands…
Talking of weddings, Kerala had a big one when the son of P Vijayan Pillai, aide of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, got married on 28 April. Politicians, liquor barons and bureaucrats flocked to Kollam. Most hotels in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram were sold out. While Delhi bigwigs and hangers-on turned up a day in advance, many Kerala politicians were not invited. Snubbed, a local minister rued: “Better to be Pillai than to be a minister.”
Despite the SC decriminalising homosexuality in 2009, Sikkim CM Pawan Chamling speaks of a “no-tolerance” approach to gay relationships. Recently, he said there was no place for gay and lesbian practices in the state and asked panchayats to pass resolutions to this effect. Officially, Sikkim does not have a single homosexual resident! Predictably, civil rights groups are hopping mad.