Off the record

‘At Home’ bonhomie

‘At Home’ reception hosted at Rashtrapati Bhawan by President Pranab Mukherjee on Independence Day evening saw Congress president Sonia Gandhi warmly hugging and exchanging greetings with Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. This was seen by onlookers as a sign of truce after the washed out monsoon session of parliament. It had seen a lot of tension between the Speaker and the Congress after Mahajan suspended 25 Congress MPs for disrupting proceedings. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too was seen sharing light moments with his predecessor Manmohan Singh and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

The Delhi CM appeared at his friendliest best in the company of Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and Congress leader Gulam Nabi Azad. Earlier in the day, Rahul Gandhi had refused to criticise Modi’s Red Fort address to the nation, saying politics was for another day. If only every day was like the Independence Day, perhaps, there would be lesser political tension.
Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi

Cong TV?

Senior Congress leader A K Antony has given enough hints that the party is seriously considering the idea of launching a national TV channel to reach out to the masses.  Discussions are on to convert Kerala-based ‘Jaihind TV’ to a national channel. Jaihind TV, which was launched in 2007 by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, was promoted by the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee to counter Left-linked Kairali channel.

Speaking at the inauguration of the new office of Jaihind TV’s national bureau in Delhi, Antony did some plain talk. “Despite being the oldest democratic force, Congress is lagging behind in new-age communication systems and is not able to catch the limelight in comparison to other parties,” he said. “We are not able to counter false propaganda at a time when people no longer cast their vote just by looking at a party's symbol.”
SI, New Delhi

Mimicking Modi

As he toured the drought-affected Marathwada region of Maharashtra, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar mimicked Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He chose to do it on Friday, a day before the 69th Independence Day celebrations on Saturday, when the Prime Minister addressed the nation from the Red Fort.

“During the last 20 days, he did not enter our House…not only it is about discussions, but he did not even give darshan… tomorrow morning you would hear beheno aur bhaiyon,” Pawar said in Osmanabad at a farmers’ rally. “But in 20 days (of the monsoon session of Parliament), the PM did not see any bhaiyon or beheno anywhere,” Pawar said. However, it needs to be mentioned that cutting across party lines, Pawar and Modi share a good personal rapport and then often speak to each other on issues concerning the country.
Mrityunjay Bose, Mumbai

CMs absent

Chief ministers of both the Telugu states were conspicuous by their absence at the customary At Home in Raj Bhavan on Independence Day. While AP CM Chandrababu Naidu left after participating in the Independence Day celebrations at Visakhapatnam, Telangana CM K Chandra-sekhar Rao has sent his deputy and stayed back at the camp office. However, the common governor who was hosting the get together, had to explain the reasons behind the absence of the two CMs to the media.

When some scribes asked whether the get-together has lost its charm due to their absence of the two CMs, Governor ESL Narasimhan said “Why do you think so. I am charming enough for the event”. The governor then explained that he will be available for both the CMs till the last day of his stay at the Raj Bhavan.
JBS Umanadh, Hyderabad

Post-deal fears

There was some misapprehension when former Intelligence Bureau special director R N Ravi was appointed chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee. But of the things he has achieved as the interlocutor of the Naga peace talks is that after 18 years of parleys, both the Centre and the NSCN(IM) have been able to agree to sign a framework.

Now, the rumblings in the political circles in the North East are that Ravi would be slowly given charge of all the peace negotiations of the region if he succeeds in pulling off the deal. There is also a growing fear that Ravi might try to negotiate with all the other factions in Nagaland.
Ratnadip Choudhury,Guwahati

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