After Rahul Gandhi resigned as the Congress party president, the Gandhi family as well as other leaders, agreed that Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot would be the next party chief. An emissary was sent to Gehlot to convince him to agree to the idea. He, however, turned down the offer and argued that a younger person should be made Congress chief to rebuild the party. He signalled Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, who is considered one of the frontrunners for the job. On Wednesday, after presenting the Budget in the Rajasthan Assembly, Gehlot left no one in doubt that he planned to stick to his current job. At the press conference held after the Budget presentation, he said people in the villages strongly felt during the Assembly elections last year that "no one else but Ashok Gehlot should become chief minister". "Respecting people's sentiments, Congress President Rahul Gandhi gave me the opportunity," he said.
The nomination of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) leader Vaiko for the Rajya Sabha elections, despite a court order convicting him in a decade-old sedition case, has defused a potentially hazardous situation in Tamil Nadu. Of the three seats allocated for the DMK alliance, one was promised to Vaiko, but the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) had filed a fourth nomination — for N R Elango — on Monday much to the consternation of MDMK leaders. The DMK had justified the fourth nomination on the ground that if Vaiko's was rejected — because of the conviction — Elango's nomination would be considered. On their part, MDMK members contended that if the nomination was allocated to the MDMK, Vaiko's replacement should also come from the party. Indeed, if Vaiko's nomination wasn't accepted, the ensuing discontentment had the potential to derail the alliance between the two parties.
Birla makes a strong debut
Those who underestimated Om Birla (pictured) and doubted his ability to discharge the onerous task of being the Speaker of the Lok Sabha must have been surprised by the two-time Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP's debut in Parliament. On Wednesday, as Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman replied during the Budget debate, Birla castigated not just Opposition members who interrupted her from time to time, but also those of the ruling party. Birla refused to allow Trinamool’s Saugata Roy, who got up from his seat frequently, to seek clarification at the end of Sitharaman's response, but permitted Trinamool leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay to ask the question on Roy’s behalf. As BJP’s Ramesh Bidhuri rose to interrupt Roy time and again, Birla left the former speechless saying that while he wished Bidhuri would become a minister soon, since he was not one at the moment, he would do well to take his seat rather than speak out of turn.