The superstar from Andhra Pradesh, Chiranjeevi, who’s just been appointed Union tourism minister, was asked loudly and repeatedly by a wide section of journalists at a recent press conference to say a few words in Hindi – a great sound bite for them. The actor-turned-politician put considerable effort into coming up with one sentence in Hindi — and then assured everyone that he would, definitely, learn the language. Indeed, he said with a smile, the next time even if a question is asked in English or Telugu, he would answer in Hindi. “Give me some time,” he said.
Perhaps Chiranjeevi just wants to feel more at home in Delhi. But nobody could accuse Finance Minister P Chidambaram of not feeling at home in the capital. Yet many have noticed that Mr Chidambaram went out of his way to make a laboured speech in Hindi in front of the prime minister and Congress President Sonia Gandhi at the Aadhaar launch function recently. Yet others have noted that Mr Chidambaram, most familiar in veshti or in a business suit, has been seen a few times in bandhgalas now, an outfit with a more, let’s say, pan-Indian appeal. Is it just the chill of winter in Delhi? Or, as 2014 approaches, is ambition going to be visible burning in more and more senior leaders of the Congress?