Capital Buzz


Out of sight, not out of mind

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New Delhi/Chandigarh : Former union home minister Shivraj Patil, who had to pay the price for his inability to rise to the country’s biggest terrorist challenge on 26/11 by first being eased out of the cabinet and then shunted out of Delhi as governor of Punjab, is now said to be lying low in the sylvan surroundings of the Chandigarh Raj Bhavan.

The buzz in the capital’s circles is that Patil has completely shut himself off from people and spends most of his time inside the sprawling governor’s estate that is walking distance of the Sukhna Lake.

He ventures out only for a few functions once in a while – making sure that he dresses immaculately for each of them. His sartorial consciousness, witnessed even during the Mumbai attack when he was found changing his dress every time he came on television, had come in then for trenchant criticism.

The buzz is Patil, a Sonia Gandhi loyalist, has been promised the vice president’s job the next time around and is hence marking his time in his gubernatorial assignment that includes being administrator of the union territory of Chandigarh.

However, Patil now has to deal with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which he once headed, as the ministry is the controlling ministry for Chandigarh.


Chief justice to head NHRC?

As Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan gets ready to retire next month, the buzz is the government is keeping the seat of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) panel head warm for him.

A little birdie has it that the chief justice has already been approached by the government for the new role. After all, the rights panel has been headless since June last year.

The government has been unsuccessfully trying to convince various ex-chief justices of the apex court to take the august chair but has had no luck so far. The NHRC’s last head, former chief justice Rajendra Babu, retired in June 2009.


Modi, Tharoor still tweet buddies

A tweet from IPL chief Lalit Modi has cost Shashi Tharoor his job as a minister, but the two may be still keeping an eye on each other – through the very micro-blogging site that started it all.

Tharoor, who was forced to resign as minister of state for external affairs following a couple of Twitter revelations by Modi, is still listed as a follower on the IPL commissioner’s account. Ditto for Modi, who is still following Tharoor.

While Modi has maintained twitter silence since April 20, Tharoor has left a trickle of tweets on the site.


Comrade versus US vaccine

This might make the comrades happy. CPI (Marxist) MP Brinda Karat has won a major battle against a US vaccine, as a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on health affairs.

In her new role, Karat targeted an NGO and a pharmaceutical company – both based in the US – calling for an immediate suspension of clinical trials of cervical cancer vaccine on thousands of minor girls in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

And now the government has heeded her warning and stopped the vaccine trials.


Blood and sweat equity

Sweat equity as an expression had its heyday during the IT boom, but it’s back in business, this time in the diplomatic and cocktail circles, thanks to the IPL controversy.

British High Commissioner Richard Stagg recently hosted a farewell party for his press counsellor Dan Chugg, who is now heading to Beijing. The envoy regaled guests with stories of how Chugg poured blood and sweat into his work to promote India-British relations.

The envoy could not resist a stab of sarcasm, saying Chugg perhaps deserved sweat equity! Needless to say, the remark triggered peals of laughter.


Whither women in women’s panel?

Amid a fiery debate in and outside parliament over the women’s reservation bill, there is a lull in the office of the National Commission for Women (NCW).

The panel has always functioned with a handful of members to look into a pile of complaints. After Bihar Governor Devanand Konwar’s wife Neeva quit in February, just two members are left in the panel’s core group.

So much so that when journalists tried to contact the NCW regarding the Shoaib Malik-Ayesha Siddiqui row, the office wore a deserted look as most of the staff and councillors were on leave.


Sunshine on Gadkari, BJP in shade

It was not something the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had bargained for. When the sun hit president Nitin Gadkari, the massive rally organised by the party was quickly put in the shade by the media.

After all the hard work to mobilise tens of thousands of people for the rally, the BJP found TV channels running “breaking news” about Gadkari fainting in the sweltering heat.

Party leaders tried make an effort to convince TV channels that they should focus on the huge crowds of supporters besieging the capital. But Gadkari fainting, sipping lemon water, his head covered in a wet towel, was all that rolled on TV channels!


One man show

Most union ministers, including Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily, didn’t turn up at one of the last official functions for Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan before he remits office May 12. But one man more than made up.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who was personally invited by the chief justice, made it a point to come. And no one from the apex court was complaining.


Tharoor too honest?

Honesty is not always the best policy, says a senior Congress leader citing Shashi Tharoor.

Had the former minister been more politically savvy, he would have adopted a strategy of publicly distancing himself

from his Dubai-based friend Sunanda Pushkar. But Tharoor did the opposite and paid for it.