Call of Duty
The BJP’s new numero uno, Narendra Modi, must now handle factions. Some in Karnataka BJP are pushing for the return of BS Yeddyurappa, a Modi fan whose departure in November lost the party the state election. Ananth Kumar, a loyalist of LK Advani and Yeddyurappa’s rival, has pressured BJP chief Rajnath Singh not to recall the rebel. Kumar instead wants the return of exminister, mining baron B Sriramulu. In UP, the BJP’s Brahmin lobby wants Modi to make sure that Singh, a Thakur, has little role in choosing candidates for the Lok Sabha polls. Some claim Modi has made two lists of who gets the ticket and who doesn’t.
Relations have turned frosty between Union Defence Minister AK Antony and his one-time protégé, Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy, because the latter has refused to make the state Congress chief, Ramesh Chennithala, a minister. Antony supporters grumble that while the previous communist-led state government had benefited from Antony becoming Kerala’s “ambassador” in New Delhi, Chandy has completely ignored him. They warn Chandy will have to pay a price for it.
A Congress mp in Jammu & Kashmir stunned peace activists at a seminar in Jammu by claiming that his state had nuclear weapons. Invited to speak on a ‘World Free of Nuclear Weapons’, Chaudhary Lal Singh named the other three political parties in the state — the NC, the PDP and the BJP — as “more dangerous” than nuclear weapons. The hosts later said they would never call him again to speak.
After being elbowed out by Shashi Kant Sharma in the race to become the Comptroller and Auditor General, former Telecom Secretary R Chandrashekhar has been picked for a prestigious assignment as the chief of NTRO (National Technical Research Organisation). Chandrashekhar has an impeccable service record and is looked up to by many in the service. But the interesting part is that this is the first time a retired IAS officer will be heading NTRO. Earlier, the job was always with retired army officers.
NCP boss and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar is said to be a worried man these days. The grapevine is that an internal survey he commissioned reportedly found the party’s tally in the Lok Sabha may come down to four seats in the next General Election. The last time, the party had won nine. With elections just 11 months away, insiders say Pawar has asked his ministers in the state government to start fanning out in the constituencies.