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Former Union minister Jairam Ramesh is becoming what BJP leaders call the “amicus curiae” of the NDA government, thanks to his newly acquired penchant for offering unsolicited advice to ministers. Though he is credited with having made one of the biggest contributions in stalling Manmohan Singh government’s development agenda with his environmental activism, it has not deterred Ramesh, a close adviser to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, from proffering advice to BJP ministers who do not seem to be very receptive. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, for instance, was reported to have heard, at a pre-Budget consultation exercise, unanimous opposition to the UPA’s much-trumpeted legislation regarding land acquisition. Those opposing it included Congress chief ministers and their representatives at the meeting. One doesn’t know if Ramesh, the biggest advocate of that land Bill, has given any advice to Jaitley on this count.
OUT OF CLOSET
A documentary film commissioned by the CBI when the UPA was in power was finally viewed on Saturday by a politician when the NDA is firmly in the saddle. The occasion was the first visit of MoS, Department of Personnel, Jitendra Singh, to the CBI headquarters. The documentary, which has commentary by Kabir Bedi was kept out of schedules at CBI’s functions attended among others by the then prime minister Manmohan Singh. Reason: the documentary expands upon the agency’s probe into scams such as 2G and Commonwealth Games, which occurred during the UPA’s tenure. But now it turned out to be a politically correct show for the new minister.
RISING TO THE OCCASION
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first outing from the capital was not just a show of naval strength but also the first major task of the Special Protection Group that provides him security. Modi’s whirlwind tour of Goa was a challenge for the group that deployed a strong team led by DIG Sudanshu Srivastava to the coastal state at just three days notice. The team was larger than usual, given the bigger security threat to Modi. A small SPG detachment also stayed onboard INS Vikramaditya for a few days to secure the massive, 23 deck-ship manned by 1,600 sailors for Modi’s arrival. As it turned out, things went off without a glitch.
He may have decided to start an awareness drive about the importance of wearing seat belts for backseat passengers after the death of Gopinath Munde, but Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan is not leaving anything to chance when it comes to his own safety. He has started wearing the seat belt himself while travelling in the backseat and even instructed his driver not to start the car till he is buckled up.
BUILDING A ROW
Central Information Commission was allotted land near JNU last year where, it was said, a new office complex would be constructed. Presently, CIC is run from August Kranti Bhawan and parts of its offices are located in an old building near JNU. But, thanks to difference of opinion between Urban Development Ministry officials and the CIC, the project is yet to be conceptualised. In fact, ministry officials want to assign both architectural design and construction to NBCC but the CIC wants to get architectural design done by School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) and construction by NBCC.
Fear of RTI is seen not only in government departments but also among officials of the Central Information Commission. A few months back, one of the joint secretaries of the CIC, Pankaj Shreyaskar, had left the CIC to go back to his parent cadre. Reason was that some RTI activists had flooded CIC to get information related to his appointment and functioning. Now, sources say another joint secretary has also written to the CIC that he wants to leave the Commission to join his parent cadre. Sources say his desire to leave CIC is prompted by repeated RTI requests about him being filed by some RTI activists.
THE PR MAN
Jagdish Thakkar, public relation officer in Gujarat who had been retained by the then chief minister Narendra Modi even after his retirement, has shifted to the Prime Minister’s Office in New Delhi as PRO but, true to his reputation, remains a mystery to everyone so far as his work profile is concerned. Though assigned PR job, he was never known to answer any call or reply to text messages in Gujarat. New Delhi hasn’t changed him either. But that is probably because Modi needs no PR.