No cellphones please — this seems to be the mantra at the offices of some of the new Union Council of Ministers. Across some ministries, new counters have come up, almost overnight, outside the ministers’ offices, with clear instructions asking visitors to deposit their cellphones there.
Besides cellphones, a note pasted outside MoS, Agriculture, Sanjeev Balyan’s office even bans pens, apparently keeping in mind that “spy pens” are available easily now.
A counter for depositing cellphones has also come up in the ante room adjoining HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s office in Shastri Bhawan, In fact, this led to a rather unpleasant situation on Thursday, when a newspaper photographer tried to take a photograph of the counter and the instructions pasted on it. Irani, who was in office at the time, objected, and entered into an angry argument with the photographer.
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi’s office has put up a notice stating that cellphones should either be switched off or put in silent mode before entering the minister’s office.
While Railway Minister D V Sadananda Gowda has not put up any such instructions yet, his junior minister, Manoj Sinha, has a board outside his office which says, “Please keep your mobile phones switched off”.
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Incidentally, CBI director Ranjit Sinha was one of the first to put such a ban on cellphones in place.