Delhi Diary


Modi and Development
Has Narendra Modi’s developmental plank, which has supposedly given him electoral benefit, giving sleepless nights to the UPA Government. Alarmed and alerted by Mr Modi’s impending visit to Delhi on December 27 to attend a meeting of the National Development Council, the Government agencies are gathering data to counter his plank fearing that he might use the opportunity to up the ante at the national level.
The Planning Commission and Programme Implementation and Statistic Ministry are burning mid-night’s oil to cull out data from the states such as Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu which have a better track-record, to counter him. Particular focus is on the Congress ruled Maharashtra which is felt to have done better in the overall development of the state.
Although Tamil Nadu, ruled by AIADMK, is also on the same page as Maharashtra, the Planning Commission and the Ministry are cautious to mention the southern state. They are fearing that any mention of Tamil Nadu might trigger another controversy as it will encourage Chief Minister J Jayalalitha to make a common cause with BJP and Narendra Modi.
The move is also indicative of the fact that the UPA dispensation is acting in a futuristic mode. There is a feeling in the ruling combine, particularly the Congress, that the Modi’s third consecutive victory might trigger early Lok Sabha elections. Will the Congress-led alliance show courage to take Modi and BJP head-on? Only time will tell.
Pakistan Minister’s Visit
Having been rubbed on the wrong side by Pakistan Interior Minister, the Government of India is not only sulking but has harped on a damage control. It has led to the Prime Minister’s Office directly taking on the Home Ministry and seeking an explanation on a fiasco which Malik’s visit turned out, from the Indian point of view.
What has incensed the PMO is the manner in which the Home Ministry readily provided a forum to Malik to pursue his political agenda with aplomb. The Pakistan Minister went on merrily taking full benefit of his visit at the cost of Indian dispensation while his Indian counterpart Mr Shushil Kumar Shinde watched helplessly.
The PMO is baffled that how and why Malik was provided extra space when certain things did not form part of his schedule chalked out by the Home Ministry and other relevant agencies. A serious query is being raised as to how Malik was allowed to have a media-interaction on his arrival at the airport when it was not scheduled. Did the Minister of State for Home Mr R P N Singh, who received Malik at the airport, jumped the gun? It is learnt that the unscheduled media-interaction was done to ensure publicity to Mrs Singh’s presence at the airport.
A similar mistake was repeated at hotel Ashok where initially a joint media-conference was to be addressed by Shinde and Malik. Despite cancellation it was allowed to happen, with Shinde speaking first. Following him the visiting Pakistan minister took full advantage of the situation to counter the Indian stand.
Will the PMO probe into the matter? It is unlikely that it will in anyway affect Shinde’s position. But certainly, the Home Ministry officials will have a lesson or two to learn from this fiasco.
Facing an election back home in Pakistan in the next few months, Malik has enough material to feed his poll campaign.
Cricket Diplomacy
The Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla seems to have been fielding much clout in the UPA Government so far as the cricketing issues pertaining to Pakistan are concerned. Believe it or not, the Ministry of External Affairs had no direct role to play in the restoration of cricketing ties with Islamabad.
If sources close to Minister for External Affairs Mr Salman Khurshid are to be believed, the decision was taken by the Home Ministry in consultation with Shukla, of course at the behest of the all powerful BCCI. How do we in the MEA know about the restoration of Indo-Pak cricketing ties? This is how Khurshid reacts when asked to react on the subject.
Rajiv Shukla is the cricket affairs minister who is connected with the BCCI. Either he or the Home Ministry knows. The fact of the matter is that the MEA has not even been directly involved in the matter. Is that an indication of Shukla’s growing clout? This question is doing the rounds of Delhi’s power circles.
Party time  and Politics
There are no sworn enemies in politics. This message was made amply clear when some big-wigs of the UPA Government braved the unruly traffic scene at Delhi to reach the wedding venue of the son of a senior BJP leader the other day.
Keeping the political differences and the rancour generated in the Parliament House aside, top brass of the UPA and many senior Congress leaders braved a two-hour traffic jam to attend wedding of senior BJP leader Mr Rajnath Singh’s son. Those in the queue included Home Minister S K Shinde, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Defence Minister A K Antony.
Only a few days back the Congress top leaders led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and including Mr Rahul Gandhi attended the wedding of another BJP leader Vijay Goel’s daughter.
Not to be left behind, the BJP patriarch Mr L K Advani reciprocated these gestures by attending the wedding of Minister of State for Parliament Affairs Rajiv Shukla’s nephew’s marriage at a different venue. He not only spent two hours but also had dinner which is a rare sight as Mr Advani is very selective in eating outside.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 22 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST

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