The relief and elation generated in the Congress party when Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra went round their mother’s Lok Sabha constituency lost some of its sheen when questions were raised about their locus standi in the party. Were the two children of the late Rajiv Gandhi, members of the party? AICC officials demonstrated the party’s bondage to the Nehru-Gandhi family when they maintained that they were members of the party ?by birth?. Aware that the argument was hollow and untenable, urgent remedial action was taken and both were enrolled as primary members of the party. But there is another legal tangle brewing in the backwaters of Thiruvananthapuram for Rahul Gandhi, which may not die down that fast. A retired professor in Kerala has filed a complaint against the Congress president’sson and his Colombian girlfriend Juvenitta under the immoral traffic act. They stayed together for three days in Kumarakon around the New Year Day, even though they are not married. It is possible that, like thousands of complaints by common people of the country, this complaint will remain in the files with no follow-up action.
More serious trouble seems to be coming Sonia Gandhi’s way from Kerala. The Congress president’s attempt to paper over factionalism in the party’s state unit by applying Punjab formula has not only fallen flat but also challenged her leadership. Karunakaran, whose battle against A K Antony is as old as the formation of the UDF government in the state, did what is unthinkable by the party tradition. He went away from Delhi without meeting the Congress party’s supreme leader? The octogenarian leader was in the national capital specifically for the purpose of ?talks? with the high command, and the three-member Pranab Mukherjee committee was doing its best to persuade the party’s senior-most rebel to sort out his differences with Sonia Gandhi. In fact, the meeting was arranged to suit the former Kerala Chief Minister’s itinerary. Obviously unimpressed, Karunakaran boarded a plane back to Thiruvananthapuram hours before the party president reached the city. Needless to say, son Muraleedharan followed suit.
The scientist in APJ Abdul Kalam came to the fore recently in Bangalore when the President used a laptop computer and LCD projector with felicity. Participating in the valedictory session of a workshop on the use of Information and Communication for Sustainable Development, Dr. Kalam departed from the prepared text of his speech to a power point presentation. His lucid 15-minute presentation on his vision of a ?Nation on the Move? held delegation from about 25 countries enthralled. The President identified, through appropriate graphics, and suggested solutions to key challenges in agriculture, health and rural development. The computer savvy President also posted the presentation on his personal website – www.presidentofindia.com
Confused Karnataka Congress
By Congress party standards, this is no trouble, of course. But political watchers smell the rat of discord between the head of government and head of party organization in Karnataka. Somanahalli Malliah Krishna and Janardhana Poojary have been airing diametrically opposite views on simultaneous polls to the state assembly along with the Lok Sabha elections. The Chief Minister thinks he is asserting his party’s identity when he refuses to fall in line with the NDA government’s appeal to states where fresh assembly polls are due in later 2004 to opt for it along with the impending parliamentary polls. The PCC chief, on the other hand, is all for grabbing the offer. Poojary’s preference is based on past experience – he points out that the Congress came to power whenever simultaneous polls were held in the state, 1989 and 1999 being the cases in point. The Congress lost power in 1985 and 94, when the two elections were held separately. What is more, he maintains that pressing for early polls or not is the KPCC president’s prerogative and not the Chief Minister’s. The Congress ?high command? is yet to take note of this development and step in.
After all, it’s Laloo’s Bihar
This can happen only in Bihar. Election for the post of Chairman of the Patna Water Board, which had been lying vacant for more than 14 years, saw a declared absconder ascending to the office. Ashok Yadav, a member of the city Municipal Corporation and a member of the ruling RJD, is a wanted man under the National Security Act (NSA) and a declared absconder in a molestation case. There is no explanation as to how this underground leader came to file his nomination papers. He was conspicuous by his absence when counting was in progress and also after the declaration of the result. One can only wait and see how this Yadav plans to function in his new elected office.