The Prime Ministers new Principal Secretary Pulok Chatterji has not wasted any time sorting out a few tricky personnel issues soon after assuming office. Joint Secretary Vini Mahajan,who was the recipient of the controversial 2G note from the Finance Ministry,is under consideration for another six-month extension. If granted,this would be her fourth extension making it eight straight years for her in the PMO a fact that is inviting some criticism. Another joint secretary in line for a three-month extension is IFS officer Pankaj Saran,who is also making efforts to get himself a good ambassadorial assignment. Meanwhile,decks are being cleared to bring in Chhattisgarh cadre IAS officer B V R Subrahmanyam regardless of the decision on extensions. He had earlier served as Private Secretary to the PM.
No one says no to the CBI these days,at least not when it involves hiking their pay package. The agency understands this well and so,taking advantage of its crucial role in the current scenario,it has cornered a special incentive allowance of 15 per cent of basic pay for its non-executive staff. But no one is really cribbing too much because other agencies like the Intelligence Bureau and RAW were the first to obtain this special allowance,citing the difficult nature of their work. The CBI was not seen in the same class earlier,but this time when the agency pushed its case,no one argued that it did not fall in the same category.
The so-called donations by telecom companies to select NGOs just days before they got the Letters of Intent for 2G spectrum licences drew some sarcasm from the Supreme Court Bench hearing the matter. One such corporate largesse that allegedly went to an NGO in which DMK MP and an accused,Kanimozhi,is a director was under discussion as advocate Prashant Bhushan stressed on the incongruity of the timing of the payments,but the last word went to Justice A K Ganguly. In a lighter vein,the judge ascribed the companies alleged spurt of charity to the practice of corporate ethics. And then went on add: You see they are promoting things cultural.
Keeping Rahul Informed
While Rahul Gandhi is yet to accept any bigger responsibility in the Congress,senior party office-bearers including some general secretaries and in charges of states seem to be already preparing for the inevitable change of guard. They have been giving regular feedback about the developments in their respective areas to Gandhis office. So much so that many of them regularly send even newspaper clippings of their tour coverage. Given the fact that there is no institutionalised arrangement between Gandhis office and the AICC headquarters,Congressmen are taking the initiative on their own to keep the young scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family updated on party affairs.
High profile witness
The court martial of senior military officers in the Sukna land case,which included a former Military Secretary the seniormost military officer to face such a trial Lt. Gen (retd) Avadhesh Prakash,is now drawing high-profile witnesses too. The latest call is likely to go to Gaj Singh,the erstwhile Maharaja of Jodhpur,who may be required to verify whether Mayo College,Ajmer,had ever backed opening a Mayo franchise in Sukhna. That,incidentally,was the claim made in the land application for which military clearances were sought. The Jodhpur Maharaja is the president of the Mayo General Council.