Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan’s budget intervention in the Rajya Sabha started with complaints about mosquitoes. She said mosquitoes trouble the members whenever the Upper House conducts business after 6 pm. She was seconded by union minister Najma Heptullah who said the mosquitoes come to the House unelected. Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad sought the chairperson’s intervention, saying, “You are the protector of the House.” Responding to this, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien asked the secretariat officials to resort to remedial measures like fumigation. The Rajya Sabha functioned well beyond 9 pm on Wednesday to discuss the general budget.
Need to Monitor
Prasar Bharati chairman A Surya Prakash has predicted that soon all the ministries in the government would have a new post, that of Secretary, Twitter. At a function that launched an online public policy portal by a group of people connected to the RSS, Prakash argued that with the government inviting inputs and the ministries receiving suggestions from the public for policy formation, there will be a need to monitor them and filter them because the flood of such inputs should not paralyse the system. So the ministries will be forced to appoint an officer for controlling and managing them.
Keep it short
In reply to a starred question by Pankaj Bora of the Congress on the wages of tea garden workers in Assam, the Labour Ministry circulated a bulky 26-page statement that prompted chairman Hamid Ansari to remark that such lengthy reply might be unprecedented.
“As far as I can remember, no question in this House has got such a long reply,” he said. While he might be correct about Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha certainly seems to be more accustomed to long replies. At least four questions on Wednesday received replies in the Lok Sabha that clearly exceeded 26 pages. The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research under the Ministry of Science and Technology supplied an answer that was 121 pages in all. Of this, 106 pages were devoted to achievements of DSIR.
Members of the newly formed NITI Aayog, who carry Minister of State rank, are still awaiting government accommodation. One of its members had his first brush with the bureaucracy when despite being allotted Bungalow 38 in the posh New Motibagh Colony, he couldn’t shift because Labour Secretary Shankar Agarwal continues to occupy it. Agarwal was allotted Bungalow 6, the most sought after residence in the colony, once he was appointed the Urban Development Secretary last July. Given the UD Secretary’s clout, he normally gets the best of the lot. But before he could fully move his goods to Bungalow 6, he was transferred to the Labour Ministry in February. Now he has one foot in Bungalow 38 and the other in Bungalow 6. This NITI member will get Bungalow 38 only if the new UD secretary Madhusudhan Prasad agrees for anything less than Bungalow 6.