There was an interesting clash of Narsimha Rao’s legacy vs the Gandhi-Nehrus at a book launch based on the former PM recently. The book, written by Vinay Sitapati, is titled Half Lion. The Gandhi family eternal loyalist objected to the name itself, asking only half in jest, whether the title implied whether Rao was half a man! Interestingly, while the author himself, and former Cabinet Secretary Naresh Chandra (who was present in the audience) claimed that Rao did not have a case to impose Article 356 in Uttar Pradesh and thereby prevent the demolition, Aiyar argued that he did have enough precedent to do so. Finally, Aiyar ended with an old favorite, “As Rao proved death is not a necessary pre-condition for rigor mortis to set in.” It did seem as the Gandhi family is running out of loyalists, for sitting on the dais itself, Natwar Singh, when asked who was the best PM after Nehru, had no hesitation in saying simply PV. Not Indira or Rajiv! Clearly, Natwar is done with defending the dynasty even if Aiyar hasn’t.
CONGRESS’ MEDIA MANAGERS
The buzz in the Congress office is that the Media Cell could get a new chairman. The names doing the rounds are of Jairam Ramesh, Veerappa Moily and Salman Khurshid. Of these, Ramesh seems to be leading the list, which has the Hindi channels a tad worried for he is known to give preference to the English media. Which is all very well for his individual needs, but can an entire party afford to ignore the Hindi heartland?
Randeep Surjewala has his own share of woes. Congress’ current media-in-charge is very popular with the media with his patient and accessible approach to all their questions. But he doesn’t seem to be getting the same amenable response from the Congress party headquarter honchos, for in the past his staff have been changed overnight at least thrice and the location of his room has changed about twice, without any prior warning. Clearly, as Surjewala is realising, the old guard that still controls the system has its own way of registering protest.