There is this lady in the Bharatiya Janata Party, of name Sushma Swaraj, who simply refuses to go away.
Now she is -- * huge sigh* -- back as minister. In a move that is certain to cost the Sangh Parivar dear.
By re-inducting the lady, the PM hasn't pleased anyone in his party. From Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi to the BJP worker on the street, everyone is mighty cheesed off at seeing her in power.
As Joshi puts it: "[Her induction indicates that one can] abuse and bully the prime minister into submission. This is not how a party that sets store on the discipline of its cadres should reward open dissidence."
Vajpayee, no doubt a large-hearted man, was persuaded to take in Swaraj by Union Home Minister L K Advani. Swaraj had also got the RSS bigwigs to plead her case.
Days before her induction, she went to Vajpayee and "explained" her public criticism of the government in Nagpur and elsewhere. So focussed was she on getting back into the government that she had repeatedly declined senior positions in the BJP.
By the way, if you think she would have been happy with any ministry, think again. A high-profile portfolio was what she wanted and she made sure that she got it.
Vajpayee, innocent he, had earmarked the ministry of rural development for her and the information and broadcasting ministry to M Venkiah Naidu.
But two hours before the swearing-in ceremony, Swaraj threw a huge sulk and told her mentor, Advani, that she would rather stay out than settle for rural development.
The message was duly conveyed to Vajpayee, who, to avoid a last-minute snag, let the lady have her way.
Swaraj, who fancies herself as the third-most important leader in the BJP after Vajpayee and Advani, and entertains prime ministerial ambitions, was keen on the I&B ministry for two reasons.
One, it routinely gets wide exposure on the State-owned media. Two, it gives her good access to journalists, whose patronage is, well, sorta nice when you are in politics.
Shatru's good friends
Film star-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha's ministerial dream was shattered yet again.
But Sinha has no one to blame for that but himself. In his desperation to become a minister he had made common cause with Swaraj.
It was Swaraj who persuaded Sinha to decline then I&B minister Arun Jaitley's offer as head of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune.
Now with Sinha still out in the cold, Swaraj is fobbing him off with the claim that his name was very much there in the list of ministerial candidates till about four hours before the swearing-in ceremony.
Sinha is not at all convinced by this tale, we have come to know.
The post of director, Central Bureau of Investigation is due to fall vacant. R K Raghavan will retire early next year, and the lobbying has begun in right earnest.
In all fairness, the job should go to P C Sharma, special secretary in the CBI for the last two years. He has already worked in the agency and has two more years before retirement.
The Supreme Court judgment that laid down the procedure for selecting the CBI chief has stipulated that he should have a fixed two-year term.
Sharma fulfills the requirement. But he is found wanting in one crucial department -- he has no political godfather.
Open your mouth, Mr Prime Minister
It isn't that all rulers are insensitive to the hardships caused to the public in the name of their security. Often the security set-up is so hidebound that the ruler just cannot wriggle out of it.
This week Vajpayee did just that.
He had to visit his dentist in Khan Market. He was keen not to cause any inconvenience to the people there. So he fixed up an appointment for 1900 hours IST, about which he instructed his aides not to let the Special Protection Group know.
Well in advance of the appointed hour, Vajpayee and aides left for Khan Market. And for the first time after becoming PM he experienced the peak-time traffic in and around the busy marketplace.
Of course the SPG bosses were miffed, but at least the public was spared the bother of another prime ministerial visit.
RSS for diplomats, imagine!
Now the RSS bosses want some of their men appointed as ambassadors and high commissioners.
Reportedly, a long list was given to the PM by a senior RSS functionary a couple of months ago. But not one from it has been send out to represent India anywhere.
No wonder there are angry voices from Keshav Kunj, the RSS regional headquarters in central Delhi.
Arm-twisting the PM
The other week, it was decided to accord the rank of a Cabinet minister to Law Minister Arun Jaitley..
Jaitley, who holds independent charge of law, justice and company affairs, albeit as a state minister, was also told about the proposed promotion.
But the same gent who dictated the expansion of the Cabinet against Vajpayee's better judgment also vetoed the promotion. Such is politics.
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