Out of touch in Rajasthan
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Shortly before the Rajasthan Assembly polls, Srikant Jena, Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers, sent to the PMO a panel of names for the post of secretary in the ministry. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, however, rejected the panel and suggested the name of Rajiv Mehrishi, a Rajasthan-cadre officer. Jena demurred explaining that Mehrishi was likely to be shortly appointed chief secretary of Rajasthan as he was a favourite of Vasundhara Raje. Singh expressed surprise and queried, "Aren't we going to be forming the government in Rajasthan?" Jena's political instincts were more sound and within a fortnight of Mehrishi taking over as Secretary, Fertilisers, he was transferred to Rajasthan as Chief Secretary under Chief Minister Raje.
Amma in prime minister race
The BJP's chief minister-designates in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh wanted to invite Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa to their swearing-in ceremonies. But the empress of Tamil Nadu refused to take their numerous messages, having decided not to align with any national party in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. At the recent AIADMK general council, a resolution was passed that Amma was the party's PM candidate. Already posters have cropped up in Chennai hailing Jayalalithaa as the future PM. In a four-cornered contest in Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa believes she will win an overwhelming majority of the 39 Assembly seats. The Tamil Nadu CM is riding a wave of popularity with such common man schemes as Amma idli for Rs 1 a plate and Amma sambar rice for Rs 5 a plate. Amma water bottles are sold for Rs 10 at bus stops.
Jayanthi Natarajan was anxious to save face by claiming that she had quit the Environment Ministry of her own sweet will because the party wanted her to play an active role in the organisation in the run-up to the 2014 elections. Unfortunately for Natarajan, two of her Cabinet colleagues were busy refuting her story and spreading the word that she was forced to quit because the ministry had earned a bad name for corruption and for holding up clearances.
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