Power Bites

Illustrations: Anand Naorem, Mayanglambam Dinesh

High Politics at Kumbh

POLITICS CAN never be too far away from the Maha Kumbh. In 2001, Sonia Gandhi had gone down for a dip, and this year it is speculated both she and Rahul may do so, paying a visit to the Congress-friendly Shankaracharya of Dwarka. On his part, LK Advani has suggested using ISRO satellites to estimate the number of people on the days of the big snans. On urging from journalist Mark Tully, he had pushed for a similar effort at the Haridwar Kumbh Mela in 2010. Ramesh Pokhriyal, then chief minister of Uttarakhand, commissioned ISRO to use high-resolution satellite imaging to tabulate the throng. Advani has recommended it be done again for the Prayag Kumbh.

Telangana Domino Theory

The main reason the Congress put off the decision on Telangana was it feared its MPs from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema would resign. These losses would have been more than those of Telangana-region MPs, and the party was not willing to take chances before the Budget Session. That apart, the Congress feared allies would get ideas. Sharad Pawar told a Telangana MP recently that as soon as Andhra Pradesh was divided, the NCP would demand Vidarbha to be carved out of Maharashtra.

India in Numbers

 26 CR

Number of Aadhaar Cards Issued Till 18 Jan 2013

40 Cr  Cards to Be Issued By 2014

Rs  2149 Cr  Money Spent So Far

The Intrigues Begin
While Rahul Gandhi’s Congress vice-presidency has been acclaimed, misgivings about his new team remain, particularly among 24×7 politicos. Kanishka Singh, son of former foreign secretary and late governor of Rajasthan SK Singh, is clearly Rahul’s chief assistant. He visited the AICC headquarters before Rahul went there, conferring with Janardhan Dwivedi and Motilal Vora. Asked about this, a young MP muttered, “He is only secretarial staff.” Obviously, the anxiety and envy has started.

Snubbing the Prez

There is much consternation in political circles that pet projects cleared by Pranab Mukherjee when he was finance minister — such as those related to the Tagore sesquicentennial — have been quietly nixed after his exit from the government, citing austerity and shortage of funds. Many of those who had been promised grants in this regard are miffed, and believed to be collecting ammunition for an appeal to Rashtrapati Bhavan. How far will presidential displeasure go?

Party of Many Voices
Nirmala Sitharaman’s dexterity with English has got her male colleagues in the BJP hassled. Addressing the media on the controversial assets of Mayawati’s brother, she spoke in four languages: English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Since Sushma Swaraj mastered Kannada during the 1999 poll campaign, in the BJP at least, the women seem more multilingual than the men.