Off the record

A friend in need!

Is Lok Janshakti Party president Ram Vilas Paswan really distancing himself from RJD chief Lalu Prasad and inching towards JD (U) strongman Nitish Kumar? Or this is just a pressure tactics before the alliance between like-minded parties is stitched?

Those in the know of things aver that neither Paswan will join hands with Nitish nor the Bihar chief minister will ever like to be seen in the company of a leader whose close associates have a shady background. Amid growing clamour for clean politics, Paswan still roams around with leaders who have been facing charges of murder and kidnapping.

The problem is that in the changed political environment, no body wants to touch such elements even with a barge pole.

The LJP, which could not even win one seat out of 40 constituencies in Bihar in the 2009 LS polls, is obviously miffed with the present offer. Hence Paswan has opened backroom channels with Nitish and JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav, with whom he shares camaraderie since VP Singh’s prime-ministership days when all three protégés of Jayprakash Narayan were in Janata Dal ministry. Meanwhile, an ‘isolated’ Nitish is also weighing his options before rejecting or accepting a tie-up with his friend-turn-foe-turn-friend, who changes colour fast than a chameleon.

Abhay Kumar, Patna

Net-friendly Congress

Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Congress has revamped its presence on the internet by launching an interactive website – – with the home page giving an impression that Rahul Gandhi has taken over the party. The website declares Congress as the largest democratic party in the world, highlights the initiatives of the UPA government such as the Land Acquisition Bill and its plans to tackle corruption by enacting stronger laws. A large section on the home page carries links to videos of Rahul Gandhi’s speeches. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s rare press conference on Friday also finds a mention with the photo caption saying that the PM “signed off on his two-term tenure” by attacking BJP’s Narendra Modi. Links to social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook lead the users to the Congress presence in such media. Interestingly, the lone mention to Congress President Sonia Gandhi is towards the end of the homepage, where a link takes the user to her profile.

Sagar Kulkarni, New Delhi

Tableau trouble

Three weeks before the Republic Day parade, murmurs of discontentment are being heard among the social sector ministries on the defence ministry's curious choice of the tableau.
Two key social sector ministries – health and education – were dropped at the last minute and the reasons cited failed to convince the bureaucrats in these two ministries. While the health ministry's topic was eradication of polio, the human resource development ministry chose 50 years of Kendriya Vidyalaya to showcase in their representation.

Both were selected and passed several rounds before being dropped. Surprisingly, the Railways Ministry, which did not make the cut in the first place, is understood to have made a come back in the Republic Day parade all of a sudden, which will have only four tableaux from Central ministries this time.

Kalyan Ray, New Delhi

AK’s no for PM

Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal surprised everyone, including his own party leaders, by ruling himself out from becoming the prime ministerial candidate.  Most of the leaders in his party had decided on their own that he should become PM candidate in 2014 polls. The unanimity over the issue was so complete that it even prompted the party idealogue Yogndra Yadav to declare that Kejriwal is his dream candidate for the top post.

Party insiders reveal that `AK’ simply refused the offer and said that he wishes to concentrate on Delhi. His colleagues in the party tried their best to persuade him, but he remained firm. His party colleagues only later realised that they were missing the most important point - that only the number of seats in Lok Sabha would decide who should be the PM and they bowed down to the wishes of the leader. 

Anil Sinha, New Delhi

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