IN his race against time to ensure that foodgrain lying in the open were shifted into godowns before the monsoon,Food Minister K V Thomas is finding it difficult to deal with competing demands from different states. A couple of Congress MPs from Rajasthan recently complained that lack of enough gunny bags was hampering the transport of wheat in their state. On Wednesday,Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda met Thomas with another complaint. He is said to have lamented the fact that the Food Ministry was giving precedence to Akali Dal-ruled Punjab in moving food grains indoors while large quantities of grains in Haryana continued to remain in the open.
TRUST Sharad Pawar to sense the political wind in advance and change tack accordingly. Some time back,Pawar had forced the government to agree on the export of sugar,cotton,casein (a kind of milk product) and onions,after he argued that banning exports would be akin to returning to pre-1991 era of a controlled economy. On Friday,when he came to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs with a proposal demanding export subsidy on skimmed milk powder while arguing for lifting the ban on the export of this product he realised that his earlier liberal argument could be thrown back at him. For,subsidies,in these times of financial crunch,is a lost argument from the start. Some ministers had indeed gone to the meeting prepared to oppose the proposal. The shrewd politician that he is,Pawar himself suggested that the proposal be modified to allow export of skimmed milk products without any export subsidy. His pre-emptive measure ensured that there was no opposition to the proposal and the export of skimmed milk powder was allowed.
EVEN as they wage a battle against corporates,Naxalite groups seem to have registered their brand with global companies. During a meeting with Microsoft founder Bill Gates,when Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh pitched for a contribution towards supporting livelihood initiatives in tribal regions,Gates sought a clarification. Does the minister mean Naxalite areas when he refers to tribal regions,he is learnt to have asked.
ASHOK Patnaik,the son-in-law of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,has been appointed as the head of the Intelligence Bureau office in J&K. Patnaik,a 1983-batch IPS officer of the Gujarat cadre,is married to Manmohan Singhs second daughter Daman Singh. His posting in the sensitive position in J&K comes close on the heels of the appointment of Rahul Khullar,a confidant of the Prime Minister,as chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India,which has become crucial in the present situation. Khullar was private secretary to Singh when he was Finance Minister in the Narasimha Rao government. Another favourite of the Prime Minister,his current private secretary Jaideep Sarkar,is tipped to become Indias envoy to Israel.
MAN IN A HURRY
THE transfer of Secretary Vibha Puri Das from the HRD Ministry to the Tribal Affairs Ministry was hardly a pleasant affair. Das is learnt to have lost the confidence of Sibal who felt that the Higher Education department under her was not able to push his crucial projects with the vigour and energy that was required. With just two years to go before the next general elections,Sibal is in a hurry to implement key education initiatives. He is learnt to have dropped a few hints to Das to hurry things up but things didnt go according to his satisfaction. In the end,a deeply unhappy Das had to head to a relatively obscure Tribal Affairs Ministry.