MANY WERE pleasantly surprised to hear Union Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla converse with a Sikh steward in near-perfect Punjabi outside famous restaurant Bukhara, where she had come for dinner Saturday night with BJP leader Maya Singh. It seems Heptulla, a regular at the restaurant, always stops to talk to the staff to ask about their well-being. This, it transpires, is also because some of them have earlier worked in Parliament where they served in her staff.
AT THE Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha meet in Vrindavan, while listing the failures of the Congress party, Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that Chhattisgarh and parts of Madhya Pradesh were among the poorest zones of India, which deserve special attention. He apparently ignored the fact that both were BJP-ruled states. After Pradhan finished his address, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan arrived and listed the achievements of their states.
WITH THE government preparing the list of new nominated members, senior ministers in the Cabinet seem to be flooded with requests for appointments. A source in the BJP said more requests were coming from media and film personalities. Dharmendra’s meeting with Arun Jaitley at the latter’s office in Parliament House too triggered speculation that he is among the aspirants. Dharmendra and his actor son Bobby Deol met Jaitley last week. While two nominated members — Ashok Ganguly and H K Dua — have already retired, five are retiring on March 21. They include Mani Shankar Aiyar, Javed Akhtar, Bhalchandra Mungekar, B Jayashree and Mrinal Miri.
ENGINEERING UNITS of the Army have been seen constructing a pontoon-based floating bridge on the Yamuna for the Art of Living Foundation’s World Culture Festival from March 11 to 13. The equipment used to make this bridge is meant for operations and is in short supply. When the proposal was mooted, the Army authorities thus refused to make the bridge and said so on file. But their objections were over-ruled and the Army has now made the bridge at the site.