Both the Prime Minister and Finance Minister could not resist a smile at NCP leader Praful Patel’s comments on the floor of the House. Patel said of the RTI, “For Rs 10 even a chaiwala can ask who made a missile or anything about international affairs.” This immediately drew a smile from the PM whose chaiwala credentials are well known. Patel added that his remarks were not meant as a disrespect to the PM as his chaiwala origins were an “honour”. But at the end of the day, it was a change to see some banter across the Treasury and Opposition benches in an otherwise acrimonious House.
RAJYA SABHA MYSTERY
Although most of the Rajya Sabha nominations from Rashtrapati Bhawan have been filled there is still one seat left. Speculation is rife as to which of two media barons close to the BJP may fill it. Both are said to be lobbying hard to please the powers that decide.
DOUBLE EDGED GIFT
From day one that he was sworn in as Rajya Sabha member, Subramanian Swamy has dominated the headlines, much to the exasperation of Congress MPs, with Kumari Selja asking as to why, when the Speaker is standing (a sign for everyone else to keep quiet) one MP’s mike is always on. Her senior colleague Ghulam Nabi Azad too said caustically that this “new gift of the BJP will not allow the House to function”. Well, one thing is for sure. Before the session began, Congress MPs were planning to take on the government on Uttarakhand President’s Rule. Now they are on the back foot on the Agusta scam.
While their male counterparts raised a hue and cry about odd and even, some even riding horses and cycles to Parliament instead of quietly taking the Parliament shuttle, three women MPs cut across party lines to share a car. And that too when women are exempt from the odd-even rule so each could have driven in her own car to Parliament. These are NCP’s Supriya Sule, Congress’ Sushmita Dev and BJP’s Poonam Mahajan.
HOME ON WHEELS
BJP MP from Jodhpur, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat may have done an MPhil in Philosophy, but as far as realpolitik is concerned, his approach is much more grounded. For, he knows all too well the importance of nurturing the constituency that has sent him to Parliament and spends his non Parliament time in the constituency even if it means rushing back just for a day. As a result, he spent more nights on the Mandore Express that connects Delhi to Jodhpur than in any other place last year, spending 128 nights aboard a train that connects his two lifelines — his parliamentary job in Delhi and the constituency in Rajasthan.