A House for Mr Mukherjee
Much is being spun about President Pranab Mukherjee's retirement home--how a big double-storeyed bungalow on Luytens’ Delhi's Rajaji Marg is being readied. How the current resident of the bungalow, culture minister Mahesh Sharma, is being evicted to accommodate Mukherjee. Also that the President would prefer to retire to his old smaller bungalow on Talkatora Road, now being used by his MP son Abhijit Mukherjee.
Well, it seems the Rashtrapati has given no such indication. What he may have suggested with a reformer's zeal is better utilisation of the 320 acre sprawling President's Estate: A six-room duplex to house the immediate ex-President for a five-year period post-retirement. But the government was wary of housing the former and incumbent presidents in close proximity. So the idea was dropped. As of now there's little clarity on where Mukherjee can have his favourite evening snack of 'muri' (puffed rice). He's been denied the pleasure thanks to the layers of security cover at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Stalin in Delhi
M K Stalin, is his role as working president of the DMK, was seen in a new avatar in the national capital. Not only did he pay a visit to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, he sought meetings with other opposition party leaders as well. However, much to his disappointment, neither CPM nor CPI leaders could find time for him. Sitaram Yechury was away campaigning, and his CPI counterpart Sudhakar Reddy too was busy. Stalin finally had dinner with a select group of 'national media' journalists, and requested them for better coverage of the DMK.
Who shall speak?
After Vikas Swarup was named India's High Commissioner to Canada, a plum posting by any yardstick, he quickly bade his media friends goodbye. His successor apparent, Gopal Baglay, was to take over as the next MEA spokesperson, without a pause. Only problem, Baglay is yet to get official intimation on his new role. Also, he's travelling, as is the Foreign Secretary, S. Jaishankar, which is one of the reasons for the delay in the official notification. Hence what was to be a seamless transition has become a 'now who-will-speak-to-us' situation for the diplomatic beat regulars. Vikas Swarup technically is still here, though in an exit mode.
In the forest cross fire
The Adani Group's Mahoba power project in Bundelkhand, UP, has gotten caught in the crossfire of forest officials. The project green signalled by the Akhilesh Yadav government has apparently led to the felling of precious green cover in the arid zone of UP. Forest officials, upset about not being kept in the loop, claim that parts of the same area had been under Akhilesh's afforestation programme, costing the state exchequer crores, and that it was preceded by Mayawati's 500 crore rehydration project. All the mix up, it seems, is a result of changing goal posts -- from agriculture to afforestation to power generation and job creation.
Renegade moving again
Renegade Congressman from Guntur Kanna Lakshminarayana is wooing the 'party hopper' tag with diligence. With no role to play in the BJP, except play second fiddle to TDP, Kanna is now in talks with Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress. The ex-minister had jumped on the BJP bandwagon in 2014. Ideally, he would have returned to his old party had it shown any sign of coming out of coma in Andhra Pradesh.