Farooq Abdullah is grateful that “divine intervention” gave him an opportunity to make an emotional appeal to leaders of India and Pakistan to resolve bilateral issues. The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister was a guest at the book launch of former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri on Wednesday. He was requested to join a panel discussion since one of the panelists, K Natwar Singh, had fallen ill. Abdullah spoke about his sadness at not having been able to visit Pakistan. “You can deny me a visa now. But after my death, my aatma will go to Lahore and other parts of Pakistan and enjoy… You cannot stop my aatma from visiting Pakistan,” he said.
Residents of Jayapur, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s adopted village in Varanasi, were left wondering recently when some union ministers unveiled two statues of B R Ambedkar. Jayapur, a predominantly upper-caste village, has just a handful of Scheduled Caste families. “It is perhaps the first Ambedkar statute that the BJP has installed in Uttar Pradesh,” said a party leader in Varanasi. During the Lok Sabha elections, BJP had wooed Dalits in UP while seeking to push them away from Muslims, saying that “Ambedkar had disliked Islam”.
Perhaps spurred by a recent letter from the PMO about a slowdown in project execution, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu has devised a way to keep track of key projects. Named “Unnati”, it is yet another online platform where all the Railway Board directorates are supposed to upload the status of important projects. There are already some similar online platforms where officials have to upload monthly progress reports of various assignments.
No Top Guns
In contrast to last year, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence made it a high-profile event, the Air Force Day event this year was rather lacklustre. Modi could not attend the ‘At Home’ function at the IAF chief’s residence as he was campaigning in Bihar. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi also stayed away. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was present for a very short time.
Usually, IT is the officers who wait for ministers to arrive at functions. But the roles were reversed at the women and child development ministry’s recent conference of state ministers/ secretaries at Vigyan Bhawan. Union Minister Maneka Gandhi was among the first to arrive. She sat on the dais with Secretary V Somasundaran, waiting for the two additional secretaries, Preeti Sudan and Nutan Guha Biswas, who took a long time to arrive.