UNION MINISTER for Urban Development M Venkaiah Naidu is lately rather pleased with himself for resolving a diplomatic deadlock immediately after he took on the role of presiding functionary of the Governing Council of UN Habitat on May 8. During the meeting of the Council, Palestine is said to have insisted that their resolution, condemning Israel’s plans to expand its settlements in the West Bank, be put to vote. The call for voting, in the run-up to the President Mahmoud Abbas’s visit to India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Israel, would have put India in a difficult position. Those in the know say that Naidu negotiated with the respective blocks supporting the two countries and managed to bring out a watered-down version of the resolution that was unanimously adopted without a vote.
THE DISCOURSE over Ganga river could unfold the next competitive narrative about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. An indication of this was evident at a two-day seminar organised by Bihar government on ‘Obstacles in the Incessant Flow of the Ganga’. While Kumar said the issue of unrestricted flow of the river was not political in nature and demanded a desiltation drive, Varanasi saint Swami Abhimukteshwaranand chose the occasion to train guns on Modi and sought to project Kumar as the future Prime Minister candidate. The seer said Nitish had the right potential to lead the country and give it a new direction. At the same time, he attacked Modi for not fulfilling promises to clean the Ganga. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, who was also present, curiously said that one of the reasons why UPA lost 2014 elections was that it had forgot Ganga. He asked Nitish to take the lead in cleaning Ganga.
THE SEARCH-CUM-SELECTION committee, set up by the HRD Ministry to shortlist finalists for the post of UGC chairman, interviewed 10 candidates on Wednesday. Those called in for the personal interaction include NAAC chairman D P Singh, BHU vice-chancellor G C Tripathi, Professor A K Singh of IGNOU, secretary-general of Association of Indian Universities Furqan Qamar, former IIIT director S C Sharma, Delhi Technological University head Yogesh Singh, and Rayalseema University head Y Narasimhulu. Of these, D P Singh, Tripathi, Sharma and A K Singh are said to be frontrunners for the job. The panel is also learnt to be considering AICTE chairman Anil Sahasrabuddhe for the job although he hasn’t applied for the post. Sahasrabuddhe could be the ‘search’ candidate.