Sonia's masterstroke for Pranab babu
Master archer Sonia.
Lobbying for the vice-president.
'A taste of MSY'.
All this, and more, in Dilli Gupshup....
Remember Arjun and the fish eye story from the Mahabarata? Like an ambidextrous master archer, Sonia Gandhi's ultimate objective was to win the presidential polls at any cost. She played her cards well and close to her chest. The Opposition, which includes seasoned politicians like LK Advani, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and others failed to read her mind. They based their calculations on a premise that 10, Janpath would not let Pranab Mukherjee have his way, and faltered.
For some reason, Sonia-Pranab relations have always been shrouded in mystery. There is an erroneous and over-simplistic assumption that the lady at 10, Janpath does not 'trust' Pranab fully. 10, Janpath insiders said nothing would be farther from the truth. Pranab's relations with Sonia have evolved. He was instrumental in plotting a coup against the then Congress Sitaram Kesri to ensure Sonia formally taking over the party in March 1998.
He was her closest advisor when Sharad Pawar, PA Sangma and Tariq Anwar revolted against her on grounds of her foreign origins. It is believed that the draft of all Sonia's letters of that era were prepared by Pranab. In fact, Sonia's admiration for the Bengali babu dates back to Indira Gandhi's dinner table conversation, when the former prime minister used to narrate anecdotes of Pranab's wit and scholarship with relish.
So when the clamour of presidential polls reached a crescendo, Sonia floated Pranab's name as her 'choice number one'. He was. The ace crisis-manager showed his class too, winning many more friends outside the United Progressive Alliance parivar.
Click NEXT to read about lobbying for the V-P's post...
Image: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee flanked by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president soon after he was named as the UPA's presidential candidate. To the extreme left is Defence Minister AK Antony
Lobbying for vice-president
Both Muslim and Dalit lobbies within the Congress are in an aggressive mood. Both want to stake their claim on the vice-presidency, now that Pranab Mukherjee, a Brahmin, is set to make it to Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Muslim leaders want Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh to either grant incumbent Hamid Ansari a second term, or pick someone from among SY Qureshi, Wajahat Habibullah and Mohsina Kidwai.
Dalit leaders of the Congress feel Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar should be elevated or Sushil Kumar Shinde should be considered for the vice-president's post. The Samajwadi Party feels Ram Gopal Yadav, party general secretary and Mulayam Singh Yadav's cousin, should be 'rewarded' for siding with Pranab Mukherjee.
Click on next to read how Mamata got a taste of MSY...
Image: (Clockwise from top left) Vice President Hamid Ansari, former chief election commissioner SY Qureshi, Chairperson of Haj Committee of India Mohsina Kidwai and National Commission for Minorities chairman Wajahat Habibullah
'A taste of MSY'
The Left leadership is happiest over the turn of events relating to the presidential polls. When Mamata Banerjee had knocked on Mualyam Singh Yadav's door, a senior CPI-M leader sent a text message to his journalist friend, 'Now Mamata will get a taste of MSY.'
In the next 24 hours, the full import of the SMS was visible. CPI-M leaders said during the passage of India-US nuclear deal in 2008 that they had had suffered a sense of betrayal that Mamata is undergoing now.
Click on next to find out Advani's other passion...
Image: Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav
Advani, the movie buff
Guess where was LK Advani when a book on him was being released in New Delhi by Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and others?
Advani, a movie buff, chose to watch Ferrari ki Sawari at Delite Cinema in Purani Dilli. Informed sources said when Vidhu Vinod Chopra approached him, Advani could not resist attending the movie premiere. Many many decades ago, Advani used to be a film critic.
Click on next to find out why Mukul Roy needs to be careful...
Image: Veteran BJP leader LK Advani
Mukul Roy under the scanner
Watch out, Mukul Roy! The Union railway ministry has come under the Prime Minister Office scanner. It is believed that the PMO wants to know every day's schedule of the Trinamool minister, his presence in official meetings, observations made, etc.
The focus is said to be a precursor to some 'political action' that will come into the play once Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh returns from abroad. Pull up your socks, Mukul.
Image: Railway Minister Mukul Roy