Capital Buzz


Who derailed Yechury’s chances as Kashmir interlocutor?

Support TwoCircles

New Delhi : The buzz is that it was Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee – who would dearly love to keep the Marxists away from the national mainstream – who derailed CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury’s chances of being named a Kashmir interlocutor.

Before announcing the names of the three new interlocutors, including journalist Dilip Padgaonkar, to re-start the logjammed political dialogue in Jammu and Kashmir and help bring peace in the troubled state, there was considerable speculation that the Communist Party of India-Marxist leader might head the panel.

But, when Home Minister P. Chidambaram sent three names for the four-member panel, Yechury’s did not figure among them. It seems that Banerjee does not want to give communist politicos any visibility in the media, which they had got after their deft handling of the separatists during the visit of the all-party delegation to Kashmir last month.

“It is a matter concerning the security of the nation,” a Trinamool Congress leader said enigmatically when asked about his party’s stand on Yechury being an interlocutor.


Prince Charles found visit ‘too short’

British and Indian officials are highly relieved that the visit of Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, went off without a hitch. The royal couple went back happy and satisfied, with Charles telling his Indian hosts that the four-day visit was “too short”.

This was after apprehensions were expressed prior to their visit about their security, which probably kept Queen Elizabeth II away from India and, for the first time, from the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.

The sceptical British delegation were “totally floored” by the spectacle of the opening ceremony – after all the reports in the British media about shoddy preparations – and have gone back particularly happy that the visit, which took them also to Chandigarh, Patiala and Jodhpur, went off without any controversy or pitfalls.


Protocol snafu at opening ceremony

The only glitch – if it can be called that – during the British royal visit was over protocol – who sits where – at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Till the last minute, no one seemed to know who was to sit where and external affairs ministry officials kept passing the buck to the Organising Committee, which of course did not do that kind of minute detailing and simply told exasperated British officials who are fussy about royal protocol that they didn’t know either.

The British presumed that President Pratibha Patil would sit next to Prince Charles, but in the end it was her husband, Devisingh Patil, who sat next to Charles and everyone noticed there was “zero communication” between them.

At one time, the OC wanted to seat Camilla next to Sonia Gandhi, but the former refused, saying she wanted to sit next to her husband and the two were seen cooing and clapping away right through the three-hour ceremony, ignoring everyone around them.


Environment ministry knows no boundaries

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna has a wry sense of humour despite his often dour visage. At a recent interaction, Krishna was asked about Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh’s comment that India needed to look at China from an altogether different perspective and reorient its strategies accordingly.

“Environment knows no boundaries and our environment ministry similarly transcends boundaries and looks at things from a different perspective. The external affairs ministry, of course, looks at things from its own perspective,” Krishna said tongue-in-cheek, not wanting to say anything that could embarrass his voluble ministerial colleague.


Krishna says he kept off Karnataka crisis

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, a former chief minister of Karnataka, claims he spent little time keeping track of the volatile political developments in his home state that saw Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa twice take a vote of confidence in the state assembly in a space of four days.

This is because he was preoccupied with the vote at the United Nations where India ultimately won a coveted non-permanent member’s seat on the Security Council after 19 years.

“I was more in touch with New York than Bangalore,” Krishna said, adding that with his present portfolio, he had little time for the politics of Karnataka where he spent five years as chief minister, 1999-2004. Krishna personally met dozens of foreign ministers to canvass support for India’s seat – and it paid off.


Hooda scores with Haryana athletes

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda seems to have won back the goodwill of the party high command that had apparently evaporated following the manner in which his government handled the Mirchpur caste clash in May.

While the land acquisition policy of his government has won him kudos from the party’s central leadership, the rich haul of medals won by Haryana athletes at the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games has also earned him brownie points.

Hooda has been liberal in announcing cash rewards to winners from the state and took more interest in the Commonwealth Games than any of the chief ministers of the states neighbouring Delhi. His detractors in the state unit, who were keen to stem his powers, have decided to lie low for the present.


Stay away from Bollywood

When the All India Council for Technical Education, the apex body for technical education, announced its plans to provide free software programmes to engineering students, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal was eager to know about its utility. A council member pointed out that the sets of the ‘Jodha Akbar’ movie were designed on this software by an IIT Kanpur student who eventually got a job in Bollywood.

It didn’t seem to impress the minister. “We don’t want to lose our top brains to Bollywood,” was his take.