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For once, Manmohan Singh speaks to impress - Capital Buzz

Sunday, September 05, 2010 06:05:58 PM, IANS

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Silent PM, talkative Congress members

As a broad church party, the Congress was never known for organisational discipline. The habit of its members speaking out of turn was always a feature of its  

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, under fire for his long spells of "silence" on critical issues of governance and problems facing the country, seems to have impressed at least one set of people - his own envoys.

Contrary to his image of being just a speech reader, he made an extempore address to the nation's diplomats and foreign office mandarins at a meeting of heads of missions in New Delhi over the last weekend. India's ambassadors spoke of the prime minister's "complete mastery" over the subject as he gave an overview of the strategic challenges facing the country and his government's foreign policy vision.

One ambassador described it as "brilliant" while another said it was "solid stuff" as they compared it with the rather insipid and predictable address of S.M. Krishna, the external affairs minister and their political boss, who merely read out a written speech.

Others who spoke and impressed were Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, a former minister of state for external affairs, Kapil Sibal, the human resource development minister, and P. Chidambaram, the home minister. They spoke extempore while only referring to speaking points. The three-day meeting was chaired by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao who spoke both on the opening and closing days.

Being a minister doesn't help in Congress
The nomination process for Congress president Sonia Gandhi's re-election to the party post was an occasion for her loyalists to get their day in the sun.

But it was state Congress chiefs who got prominence over their powerful and high profile ministerial colleagues. For example, Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh, who was apparently keen that his name appears on top of the list of 10 delegates from Himachal Pradesh in the nomination form of Sonia Gandhi, could not get his way through.

Singh, according to sources, was ready with a list that had quite a few of his loyalists, but the party told him to come through the state unit. Eventually, Singh's name came after that of bete noire Vidya Stokes and state Congress chief Kaul Singh.
 

Why are elephants migrating from Kerala
Guess why tuskers are migrating from their home state Kerala that has the largest number, 6,000 of the 25,000 elephants in the country?

Nobody had an answer to the mystery. Environmental scientists were busy listing problems jumbos face in the country. In a hectic exercise they were unsuccessfully trying to draw an effective plan to protect elephants but were finding it difficult even to identify the root of the problem.

But then, green activist Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh stepped in with a tongue-in-cheek answer.

"Elephants are Malayali and thus have a migratory nature; so they are moving out of the state," he said, triggering a bout of laughter.
 

Zip the lips, Jairam Ramesh way
Famous for his off-the-cuff remarks, Jairam Ramesh has now apparently learnt to think twice before speaking out, especially over China.

"I will not open my mouth on China," Jairam Ramesh quipped with a finger over his lips, when asked to comment on the reported presence of Chinese troops in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

The reason: The minister had created a fiasco in May while talking in Beijing about India-China warmth, saying that the home ministry was putting "needless" restrictions on Chinese investments in India. He had to apologise for the remark before Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

Betting on the Gandhis
The political future of Sonia Gandhi, who has become the longest-serving Congress president, is the latest topic of betting in the capital's punters' market.

Not surprising in a city where both ordinary people and speculators are ready to dish out money to bet on issues like whether Sania Mirza would marry or whether it would rain during the Commonwealth Games. They are ready to put their money on anything and everything.

Sonia, Rahul, and Priyanka are like hot selling bets even as bookies find it difficult to execute the bets as the time-frame does not suit them.

Still, some of the betting topics in are:

Will Rahul become prime minister before 2014? Will Rahul marry his foreign girlfriend? When will Rahul marry? Will Priyanka join politics? Till when will Sonia continue as Congress president?

Wonder who would put money on the last one if "lifetime" is not an option.


Sufi flavour at Tharoor reception
Not many noticed them at the wedding reception of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and his wife Sunanda Pushkar hosted for the capital's power-pack Friday night, but they were there in their colourful clothes, providing a Sufi touch to the evening.

The caretakers of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz, one of India's holiest Sufi shrines in Ajmer, were specially invited by the Tharoors for the reception that saw Delhi's Who's Who in attendance.

In the run up to their marriage, the Tharoors had prayed at the shrine of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishty, a 12th century saint, seeking divine blessings for serenity and bliss in their tryst with matrimony - the third for both.
 

Fighting dengue, Azad shows the way
Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad may be finding it difficult to convince Delhiites how not to allow contaminated water in their surrounding area. Instead of waiting for the municipal officials to clean the surroundings, the minister suggested, people should take care of things themselves.

"I have a daily chore," he boasted. "Every night I have to ensure that the water bowl for dogs in my lawn remains empty," he said.

"My dogs don't drink the water fully, so I empty it and turn the bowl upside down," he said at a function trying to convince citizens not to have stagnant pools of water in their homes.
 

Comrades' Camaraderie
Call it nostalgia or an ideological kinship. Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury is not seen at many national day receptions hosted by embassies in the capital, but when it comes to Vietnam, he makes it a point to be there.

This year was no exception as Yechury, clad in white kurta-pyjama, showed up at Hotel Taj Palace to toast the comrades on Vietnam becoming one of the fastest growing economies in East Asia.

After a couple of shots of whisky, Yechury was found waxing eloquent about how brahmanical repression forced Buddhism out of India, which is now flourishing in large parts of Southeast Asia.
 

No Jai ho for Rahman this time
Oscar winner A.R. Rahman's theme song for the Commonwealth Games has not been received well by many people. And Commonwealth Games secretary general Lalit Bhanot has found a unique solution to the problem.

No, he is not suggesting the theme song be changed. He says Rahman's work takes "a while" to get popular. So, in effect he is suggesting that people should start listening to the theme song continuously and then "you will start liking it".

Where did he get this innovative suggestion? "My kids suggested it to me," he said. Was it an admission that he himself had not liked the latest from the "Jai ho" composer? And by the way, the "Jai ho" song of "Slumdog Millionaire" was an instant hit.

 

 

 

 

 

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 (Photo: ummid.com)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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