The bigwigs of the new Delhi government turned out to be crowd-pullers at the President’s ‘At Home’. And, while the invitations mentioned “formals” as the dress code, Aam Aadmi Party ministers and MLAs were mostly dressed casually. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal himself had wrapped his trademark muffler and wore floaters with socks to keep the cold away. Only Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti was differently dressed in a blue cotton silk achkan. Once the President departed, the CM was surrounded by autograph seekers and was clearly in a conciliatory mood.
He admitted his law minister had twice used inappropriate language and about the proposed session at Ramlila Maidan, he said if these people allow me, only then can we hold it there…” Among those who had to wait to speak to the CM was reputed fashion designer Ritu Kumar. She complained to him about the plight of handloom workers in the country and wanted him to do something about it. Kejriwal promptly gave the designer the telephone number on which to contact him. As a parting shot to the CM, Ritu Kumar said, “It’s a deal… You do something for the handloom workers and I will design a stylish muffler for you.”
Even as the BJP remains uneasy about the fact that vote-on-account will be taken up in the Winter session of Parliament next month — and not in the Budget session as the Winter session had not been prorogued — senior RJD leader and Lok Sabha MP Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has shot off a letter to Speaker Meira Kumar registering his objections to the move terming it a violation of the convention. Though the move may be well within the rules, Singh has argued that it goes against the convention whereby the President of India addresses members of both the Houses on their first sitting every calendar year.
Since the President has to address the first session of Parliament after a new Lok Sabha is constituted, President gets to address the joint session twice in election years. Singh, who is also among the panel of chairmen who preside over Lok Sabha proceedings, argues that even in 2004 and 2009, respective Presidents addressed the joint sitting twice, but Pranab Mukherjee will be denied this opportunity to speak one last time to outgoing members of Lok Sabha in 2014. Last heard, Singh was planning to lodge his protests with President Pranab Mukherjee himself after hearing from the Lok Sabha Speaker.
GREEN GOES GREENER
The green ministry is set to move to a truly green building. The Veerappa Moily-led Ministry of Environment and Forests is set to move from Paryavaran Bhawan at CGO complex to Indira Paryavaran Bhawan at Jor Bagh. The Environment Ministry’s new office is an eight-storey building that will generate its own electricity through solar power. The MoEF’s many associated offices like Wild Life Crime Control Bureau, National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Central Zoo Authority that are spread across different parts of the city will then move into the CGO office.
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While the ministry has been planning the big shift for quite a while now, it is learnt that the high moving costs were coming in the way. It is estimated that the shift will cost well over Rs 50 lakh — not a small amount just when major budgetary cuts have been effected across ministries.
Japanese First Lady Akie Abe surprised everyone with an unusual request on Saturday evening. As she met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s wife Gursharan Kaur in Hyderabad House for a separate one-on-one meeting, she is learnt to have asked her if she could post their picture on social media. Kaur smiled and gave her nod to the Japanese First Lady. Abe, who is very social media-savvy, posted their pictures within minutes on her Facebook page.
IN OPPOSITE CAMP
While the Congress-led UPA regime has decided to honour veteran actor Paresh Rawal with Padma Shri, the Bollywood star appears to have been roped in by the BJP in the campaign programme for Narendra Modi’s prime ministerial bid. BJP president Rajnath Singh launched ‘Mere Sapno Ka Bharat’ — a crowd sourcing initiative where individuals can record/click a video/photo and send them to BJP’s campaign machinery — on January 26. Paresh Rawal is one of the judges who will examine those suggestions to select a few ideas whose creators will get the opportunity to meet Narendra Modi.
AT THE RECEIVING END
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s political rivals are having fun at his expense, thanks to his over-zealous attempt to project himself as an aam aadmi. This came to display in the VVIP enclosure where the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader was sitting along with several other VIPs for the R-Day celebration. As the function drew to a close, BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy asked Kejriwal about over-a-dozen Delhi policemen in plain clothes providing security cover to the Delhi CM in the VIP box.
Taking a cue, Shahnawaz Hussain commented, rather loudly, that he was covered under Z category security but the AAP leader appeared to be under “super super Z category”, drawing smiles from VIPs present. As the function was over and everyone started leaving, Rudy spotted Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti trying to jump the queue by getting Delhi cops to remove a barricade. The BJP leader was not to miss this opportunity as he shouted out to cops asking them not to make any exception as all the guests were aam aadmi only.