Senior BJP leader L K Advani on Thursday received a pitcher of holy water from Katas Raj temple in Pakistan as a goodwill gesture. His visit to Pakistan in 2005, during which he had launched the temple’s restoration work, had become a milestone in his political career as his remarks praising Mohammad Ali Jinnah had triggered a major controversy and he had fallen out of the good books of the Sangh Parivar. Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit handed over the pitcher carrying the holy water from the Amar Kund of the temple. Since the temple is believed to be the place the Pandava brothers stayed for four out of the 14 years that they spent in exile, BJP leaders close to Advani hope that the holy water would bring him luck.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi was slightly late for the vote on the India-Bangladesh land boundary bill. The lobbies had been ordered to be cleared by the time she arrived, but she was keen on making it for the historic moment. A frantic Deepender Hooda came rushing to Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu to apprise him of the situation. Naidu intervened and promptly facilitated her entry.
Finding a voice
After Arvind Kejriwal’s congratulatory call to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and his meeting with Trinamool RS leader Derek O’Brien, the Aam Aadmi Party, which has no presence in the Rajya Sabha, suddenly seems to have got a voice there. Trinamool MP Sukhendu Shekhar Roy on Friday raised the matter of a home ministry notification restricting the jurisdiction of the Anti-Corruption Branch of the Delhi government over state employees. This, he said, has caused problems to the Delhi government in acting against corrupt officials.
Spokesperson is a concept that is alien to the CPM. Most of the national parties have spokespersons, but both the CPM and CPI don’t have such posts. It seems the winds of change is blowing in the direction of AKG Bhawan also. The CPM, one gets to hear, has appointed three spokespersons — Palakkad MP M B Rajesh and Bengal MPs Ritabrata Banerjee and Mohammed Saleem — to brief the media about the party’s activities in the respective houses. Unlike in the past, when the party’s senior-most leaders or general secretary conveyed the party’s official stance, these young faces would interact with media. Party insiders said this would be one of the many changes CPM, under the leadership of new general secretay Sitaram Yechury, is adopting to stay relevant.
Ministers held their breath while carefully listening to every word that Bharat Singh, a BJP member who had criticised the government in the party meet recently, started making a zero hour mention in the Lok Sabha. In total contrast to the ministers, the ordinary party members seemed amused. Some of them, seated behind Bharat Singh, could be heard telling him not to repeat what he had said at the parliamentary party meeting. So much so that once even Bharat Singh got distracted. He spoke about the difficulties faced by the farmers of his constituency. After he finished, Bharat Singh got a loud response from his party colleagues. All smiles, they vigorously thumped their desks.