Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan has bewildered people both inside his ministry and the otherwise on his new avatar. Pradhan, who is close to Modi, has sent the proposal to rein in ONGC chairman Shashi Shanker to the PMO. The proposal says that Navratnas’ chairmen should have tenure of one year instead of five years. The proposal has also asked that the power should be given to the ministry and the Appointment Committee to decide whether the said individual should continue the next year based on his performance. While the guideline clearly says that the tenure shall be for five years, Pradhan wants to secure the post for whoever is the petroleum minister. It is another matter that the incumbent has reached this position through the help of judiciary, and is not willing to toe the minister’s line.
The time for Rahul’s accession is already here. It is being said that the ritual will be done at the Jaipur convention. While Congress normally avoids those states for convention where it is not in power; what was surprising that Karnataka did not show sufficient enthusiasm for the same. Even Punjab CM Amarinder Singh also received the news very coldly, and said that he can organise the convention if directed by the party high c o m m a n d . However, he added in good measure that doing so in a poll-bound state will give good signal. He suggested Jaipur as a possible venue. Rahul camp lapped up the offer, and is busy trying to make it a success.
JAITLEY’S NEW ROLE
Everyone has his or her role cut out in BJP. Take for example finance minister Arun Jaitley. He has been made the election incharge of Gujarat. The party needs to win Gujarat at any cost. It is after all linked with the prestige of both Shah and Modi. Jaitley is a good speaker. He has good command over both Hindi and English. He also has good relationship with the national media that will camp in Gujarat throughout the polls. He knows how to control them. This is precisely why he was chosen over Om Mathur for this role in Gujarat. Last election was contested and won under Mathur’s leadership. But this time the party needs a vocal and commanding in-charge instead of a silent killer.
MATTER OF DEFENCE
No one seems to be able to put a finger on exactly why Nirmala Sitharaman was made defence minister. The only possible explanation is that the government wanted to cash in on the women empowerment card prior to the polls. As far as the ministry is concerned, lots of deals are stuck between Defence Procurement Committee and Quality Assurance Department. While there is an office to wade through this cobweb of bureaucrats, army officials and dealers; but the office has its strings in the hands of Arun Jaitley’s finance ministry. This makes Madam Minister merely a glorified rubber stamp. It is a different matter that she does not accept this reality, and is basking in the glory. Last heard, she was saying that whoever controls the process, it is she who shall sign the final papers.