Thursday was about new year lunches in New Delhi. Union minister Piyush Goyal hosted one, attended mostly by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokespersons and journalists, while Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Praful Patel hosted another. Patel's lunch turned out to be a get together of the leaders of the so-called mahagatbandhan, or grand alliance. Senior leaders of nearly all the Opposition parties attended it, both to show the political significance of their breaking bread together, and also for the spread. Several were seen taking repeated helpings of Moradabadi dal. Those from the Opposition parties who attended were Sharad Pawar, Farooq Abdullah, Ahmed Patel, Sitaram Yechury, Satish Chandra Mishra, Misa Bharati, Jaya Bachchan, Dinesh Trivedi and M K Kanimozhi.
Look before you meet
The 15th Finance Commission (FC) has begun to meet central ministries in the New Year. Since the meetings were happening after a gap of five years (the 14th FC was set up in 2013), some ministry officials were found desperately rummaging through old files to figure out how to interact with Commission representatives. Some assumed these meetings would be like an extension of the annual Budget meetings but had to be reminded by Commission members that the Commission had a different agenda and that they had to reorient their priorities accordingly.
On Thursday, Trinamool Congress' Rajya Sabha leader Derek O' Brien continued with his barbs at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. On Wednesday, O'Brien had tweeted how Jaitley misquoted author Ian Fleming during a discussion on the Rafale fighter jet deal in the Lok Sabha. In the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, Jaitley spoke on a debate on a resolution to impose President's Rule in Jammu and Kashmir, as did other members of the House. O'Brien said it was a peculiar situation where despite Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's presence in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, the finance minister “replied” on the defence issues raised and then again in the Rajya Sabha, where, despite Home Minister Rajnath Singh's presence, the finance minister was speaking on home ministry issues. O'Brien said it was evident a “churn” was taking place within the Bharatiya Janata Party.