THE CONGRESSâ€™ Chintan Shivir in Jaipur was a boost for Rahul Gandhiâ€™s youth brigade. Usually elbowed out by seniors, some 150 National Studentsâ€™ Union of India (NSUI) and Youth Congress members were invited. They made maximalist suggestions â€” such as denying poll tickets to dubious candidates â€” that left pragmatic ministers aghast. One NSUI functionary boasted, â€śWe donâ€™t have to huddle around Rahul. We get an appointment whenever we want.â€ť The NSUI membership has apparently reached 3 million, the highest in the organisationâ€™s history. Among the young lot, familiar faces such as Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia were visible but the man who seems to have Rahulâ€™s ear is Jitendra Singh, minister for youth affairs and sport and MP from Alwar.
Brawl in the Bhavan
The state bhavans in New Delhi are large, spacious buildings where nothing ever happens. Recently, Tamil Nadu Bhavan saw uproar when a police officer from the state, staying overnight in the guest house, refused to pay for his food in the restaurant and demanded free treatment. When the waiter insisted he pay up, the police officer â€” of IG rank, no less â€” started bashing up the poor man and even threatened the manager when he tried to intervene. It was clear the IPS officer was drunk.
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Fingers on My Lips
Congress MP Meenakshi Natarajan, considered close to Rahul, was hounded by the media in Jaipur as she came out of a meeting. She refused to answer questions, instead holding up a paper that said Saturday was her day of silence. Natarajan, whose dowdiness-by-design and careful photoops getting out of an auto or carrying a water bottle, are well known, apparently has two pairs of glasses. One, semi-broken, is worn only for meetings with Rahul, insiders say. The other is a normal pair.
Two former IAS officers from Bihar, both politicians now, met for dinner recently and are being talked of as the newest alliance in the capital. One of the gentlemen belongs to a regional party and the other to a national party. Whispers go that the former is encouraging the latter, with the blessings of a business group in Mumbai, to aspire for higher office and put up his hand for 7, Race Course Road in 2014.
All is forgiven?
He was among the Congress politicians implicated in the 2006 Srinagar sex scandal, went to prison for a year and still faces trial in the J&K HC. But Ghulam Ahmad Mir has just made it to the state government. He has become tourism minister with the backing of state Congress chief Saifuddin Soz. Political observers wonder how the Congress leadership has permitted this in the aftermath of the Delhi rape incident and the general anti-neta mood.