Holding top office has its own disadvantages too. Newly appointed Army chief General Dalbir Singh, who is known to be health conscious, has been advised against jogging in the open owing to security reasons. South Block mandarins say Singh has thus been forced to compromise his lifelong habit of jogging in the open by running on a treadmill ever since he reached the office of VCOAS — a post he held before assuming the office of COAS on July 31. According to those in the know, Singh now runs 10 km a day on the treadmill.
As the drama between the Trinamool Congress and the Telugu Desam Party over the possession of Room No. 5 played on in Parliament, a TDP worker had a rather interesting take on the matter. “We got this room and even retained it for years when we were in Opposition. Now, when we are allies of the current government, we are being driven out of here so unceremoniously,” the staffer said.
While replying to the debate on the bill to scrap the collegium system, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad started off with showering praise on speakers from all parties who took part in the discussion. He was particularly generous to “Kalyan babu” or Kalyan Banerjee of the TMC who had made a fiery speech about the need for judicial reform. But, Banerjee and other TMC heavyweights were not present in the House to accept the accolades. Somebody later commented that the TMC MPs were possibly busy checking out the new office they were allotted in Parliament after years of demanding one. The TMC never got a room even after being one of the biggest constituents of the erstwhile UPA.
Despite the fact that the BJP-led government assumed office over two months ago, appointments of key staff members of several ministers are yet to be cleared. The appointments of OSD as well as advisor to Union Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari, for instance, are yet to be cleared. The appointments of Vinay Sahasrabuddhe as advisor and Praveen Pardesh as OSD are still pending with the DoPT even though both officials are seen in the ministry often.
TESTING THE WATERS
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited Nepal and Bhutan. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, on the other hand, has travelled to Bangladesh and Myanmar. Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh is travelling to Islamabad later this month for talks with her Pakistan counterpart. Is the BJP government not focusing its attention on Sri Lanka? It seems so. Swaraj one gets to hear has called a meeting of Tamil MPs Wednesday to discuss issues pertaining to Sri Lanka. On the agenda is said to be the fishermen issue, which has always agitated the Tamil MPs. The government it seems wants to gauge the mood of political opinion in Tamil Nadu before calibrating its moves on Sri Lanka.