Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor
Was the prime minister being presumptuous when he sent a congratulatory
note to Congress president Sitaram Kesri, (left) hours ahead of his 'election
by consensus' as the leader of the party's parliamentary wing?
On the morning of Friday, January 3, Kesri was still at his Purana
Qila Road bungalow when he received a sealed envelope from the
prime minister. Eager to know its contents, he opened it himself.
Little did he suspect that it would contain a congratulatory message
from H D Deve Gowda,eight hours before his actual election as CPP
leader. 'Kindly accept my congratulations for your election
as leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party,' said the
small note scribbled on the prime minister's official
How did Deve Gowda get to know what was to happen at the CPP meeting
scheduled for that afternoon? Could it be that the intelligence
agencies were keeping tabs on the goings-on in the Congress party?
Or was the message proof of a Deve Gowda-Sharad
Pawar (below, right) nexus? Or of the prime minister's undue interest in the
internal affairs of the Congress?
Putting the 'shadow PM' in his place
Contrary to the impression spread by Sharad Pawar-friendly scribes,
that the newly-installed leader of the Congress party in the Lok
Sabha is the shadow prime minister, Kesri is at pains to cut the
Maratha strongman to size.
Kesri and his aides make it clear to whoever wants to know that Pawar
was made the leader in the Lok Sabha only because the CPP leader
and Congress president is not a member of the Lower House.
Nothing more ought to be read in that.
Already, Kesri has begun putting Pawar in his place. At the first
meeting of the CPP executive committee, Kesri riled Pawar by insisting
that his bete noire from Maharashtra,
former home minister S B Chavan, sit
on his left whereas Pawar sat on the party president's
Kesri also failed to show up at the felicitation
organised for Pawar by loyalist, Govindrao Adik,
MP. Kesri was in the capital, but chose not to attend the 'hail
Pawar' tamasha. Nor, for that matter, did Sonia Gandhi deign to
respond to Adik's invitation to attend the function. Worse, she
did not even send a congratulatory note to Pawar.
The name game
There has been a quiet change of guard at the capital's premier
hub of intellectuals, ranking diplomats, artistes and
assorted group of professionals. The India International
Centre has a new boss in former culture secretary
Kapila Vatayayan. She took over from former Jammu and
Kashmir maharaja, Dr Karan Singh, (above, left)
The change was expected, given the fact that Dr Singh had just finished
a five-year term as president of the IIC's board of trustees and the
centre's constitution barred a second term for the incumbent.
What was not expected
was the ugly hurry with which Singh insisted on inaugurating the
annexe to the IIC.
The new complex, built at a cost of over Rs 50 million, is situated
at some distance from the main IIC building. It was far from being
fully operational when Singh opened it at a function on December
29. But, then, had he not inaugurated it when he did, he would
not have got his name inscribed prominently on a marble plaque
affixed at the entrance to the annexe.
Should the visitor fail to notice the plaque, there is a largish
brass Nataraja that has been displayed bang in front of the main
door as one enters the reception area. Another plaque announces
that it has been gifted by Mrs and Dr Karan Singh.
Serbia's Mira in New Delhi
The Indian media is guilty of allowing the visit of
Mirjana Markovi,the influential wife of the beleaguered Serbian
Milosevic, to this country late last month go unnoticed.
Mirjana, popularly known as Mira, was in Delhi at the height of the
street protests in Belgrade, to promote her latest book. And,
as The Times, London, noted rather acerbically, she was here
at State expense. 'While she was away in India, one of the
protestors's posters read: 'You are safe there, they don't
kill cows in India,' The Times said in a dispatch from the
streets of Belgrade.