All eyes are on the Rajya Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh, but Jharkhand too is set for an interesting fight. There are three candidates in the fray for two seats from the state. The Congress, with seven members in the 81-seat Assembly, initially dithered on backing Shibu Soren-led JMM. Now it has decided to back the JMM candidate —- Soren’s son Basant —- along with Babulal Marandi’s JVM and a Left party. Soren junior has the required number of 28 MLAs, but that is not the whole story. The ruling alliance, with 44 members, can easily secure the victory of its candidate, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. But the BJP has fielded a second candidate, hoping for divisions in other parties. The Congress says the BJP’s move will encourage horse-trading. It is to be seen who has the last laugh.
Healing Old Wounds
The election of Chhaya Verma as Rajya Sabha MP on a Congress ticket from Chhattisgarh has come as a surprise to most camps in the party. While there were demands that someone from the state should replace the outgoing “outsider” MP Mohsina Kidwai, few had given any thought to Verma, a little-known name even in capital Raipur. Her election, though, should heal old wounds. Two years ago, Verma, notwithstanding mighty contenders, got a ticket to contest the Lok Sabha elections from the prestigious seat of Raipur. However, veteran leader Satyanarayan Sharma soon replaced her as the party candidate.
There seems to be no quick solution to the manpower crunch at the Election Commission of India. Of the three important posts of Deputy Election Commissioner, the EC has been able to fill only two over the past year. It has been weeks since the poll panel wrote to the Department of Personnel and Training for an officer for the third post. It asked for former Chief Electoral Officer of Delhi Vijay Dev, who oversaw the Assembly elections in which AAP won a historic mandate. A 1987-batch AGMUT-cadre IAS officer, Dev is currently posted in Chandigarh as adviser to the Union Territory administrator. The EC is still waiting to hear from the DoPT.
Two years ago, citing a housing crunch, the Railways stopped allowing its officers posted as Divisional Railway Managers (DRM) across India to retain their previous official residences when their two-year DRM tenure began. Now a quiet move is being deliberated to allow officers to retain their houses when they get deputation to non-railway organisations like various Metro projects across India. Officers have lodged a complaint with the Railway Board, saying that not allowing DRMs to retain a house while allowing the same to officers deputed to outside organisations is illogical and unfair.