Millennium Post

Battle of the Budgets!


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wants a smooth Budget Session. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamalnath said that the party would not go against consensus. The government in this budget session will only focus on finance bills. There is no consensus on the Lokpal Bill. Both the left and the BJP want the Lokpal bill to be sent again to the standing committee. Mulayam Singh Yadav, too, is opposed to the BJP’s demand of bringing the PM under the Lokpal purview. He is supposed to have said at a meeting, ‘Can the Lokpal be more honest than the PM? How can the PM be put under the purview of the Lokpal?’ The Samajwadi Party, which is supporting the government, is opposed to the Women’s Reservation Bill. Despite Sonia Gandhi’s keenness to bring the bills in this session, the government cannot afford to take the risk of buying the wrath of the Samajwadi Party on whose crutches the government stands today. The sexual assault ordinance may also have to face problems. The Left, BJP and even the SP is not satisfied with the contents of the ordinance. They want that the Verma commission recommendations should be reflected in the bill. In fact, Naresh Agarwal, the chief whip of the SP, became a laughing stock when he said that two separate roads should be used by men and women, as any woman can implicate a man by saying that ‘he was staring at me’!


The much expected AICC reshuffle has been deferred for the time being.  There will be no AICC reshuffle in February or March. The reshuffle in all likelihood will be done after the parliament session. It can even go after the Karnataka elections. The Congress in the PCC wants Rahul Gandhi to first complete the exercise and then take the decision. Before Rahul goes for the reshuffle he would first reshuffle the PCCs. One thing what Rahul made clear that this time the criteria of ‘one man, one post’ would be implemented in the AICC reshuffle.


The organisational reshuffle in the Congress may have been put on hold but the BJP’s new president Rajnath Singh is out to give a new Rajnath look to the BJP at the national level. To start with, the BJP president is planning to change the presidents of the six BJP morchas. The SC, ST or the ‘Anususchit Jaati Morcha’ chief Dushyant Gautam is likely to be replaced by a builder Ashok Pradhan. Mahila BJP chief Smriti Irani, who is the cheerleader for Narendra Modi, will be replaced by Atal Behari Vajpayee’s neice Karuna Shukla. Smriti Irani is expected to be kicked up. Modi wants her to become general secretary of the party. Yuva Morcha will soon have a member of the Nehru Gandhi family as its chief. If Rahul Gandhi is Vice President of the Congress, his cousin Varun Gandhi is likely to replace the present Yuva BJP chief Anurag Thakur, the son of the outgoing Himachal Pradesh chief minister Dhumal. Thakur is being held responsible for the BJP defeat in HP.  The Kisan Morcha of the BJP has Jagdish Dhankar. He would be replaced by the Faridabad MLA Kishan Pal Gujar.

There will be no change in the Alpsankhyak Morcha. Tanveer Ahmad, the present Alpsankhyak Morcha chief will continue to be the same. The hunt for the Janjaati Morcha chief is still on. The change of guard in the BJP is becoming visible as Gadkari men are losing out to Rajnath Singh favourites. Shahnawaz Hussain, the party spokesperson, is likely to lose out to Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. Aready Naqvi is now all over the TV and other media briefings, while Shanawaz has disappeared from the scene. If Rajnath shifts from Ghaziabad to Lucknow, Mukhtar will contest from his Ghaziabad seat.


The Home Minister of India Sushilkumar Shinde has passed the buck on to the home secretary on the Iftikhar Gilani issue. He told Gilani that he had no knowledge of what happened to the esteemed journalist. Shinde is believed to have blamed the home secretary RK Singh for giving any such orders. Despite the Congress party’s reluctance to officially condemn the treatment meted out to accredited journalist Iftikhar Gilani, the top Congress official in the party, Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmad Patel called him up and apologised to him on behalf of the Congress immediately after certain journalists questioned the secular credentials of the ruling party. But for four days, there was no action on the part of the HM.

It was only after pressure mounted from within the Congress and after both Digvijay Singh and Ahmad Patel took up the issue strongly with the home minister, now famous for his ‘Hindu terror’ remark, that he called Iftikhar to his Krishna Menon residence and fired the Delhi Police Commissioner, Neeraj Kumar, also present in his room. Apologising to Iftikhar, Shinde said that had no knowledge of the incident. Blaming the home secretary and the police commissioner, he said that they mismanaged and spoilt the Afzal Guru case and did not take the orders from him on Iftiqar. ‘Inhone to Government ko phansi par latka diya.’ But the general perception in the media and in the party is that Shinde’s haste on Guru, followed by the Iftikhar case, was to neutralise his saffron terror remark, which actually caught him on the wrong foot. Ironically, the Muslim leaders of the Congress, including the Jammu & Kashmir leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad and Saifuddin Soz, have maintained a conspicuous silence on the Gilani gaffe. (IPA)
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