One rarely gets to hear Defence Minister A K Antony speak in public within the country. But in the Maldivian capital Male,Antony wowed his audience,at a function to inaugurate a military hospital,with his down-to-earth humour. He recalled that many Maldivians are settled in his state,Kerala,and he was on extremely good terms with the community. But what really got the crowds to give him an applause was a remark that Maldives was close to his heart as it took just 45 minutes to fly to Male from Kerala,while New Delhi was 3 hours and 15 minute flight away!
THE CPM was already seething with anger over the governments decision to increase diesel price and put a cap on the number of subsidised gas cylinders. What has enraged it further is an advertisement by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry justifying these decisions. CPMs Tapan Sen has shot off a letter to Petroleum Minister Jaipal Reddy arguing that one of the claims in the advertisement that a parliamentary standing committee had unanimously recommended limiting the number of subsidised cylinders was wrong. Sen himself had submitted a note of dissent on that recommendation. He now wants Reddy to put the facts straight and without distortion or dilution. Incidentally,the Trinamool Congress representative in that panel had not objected,though the party is now raising a hue and cry.
KERALA Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is unlikely to attend Wednesdays Cauvery River Authority meeting. While the decades-old dispute is between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu,the chief ministers of Kerala and Puducherry are also members of the CRA as these two states also fall in the basin. Chandy is down with fever and unable to travel to Delhi. It will save the Chief Minister of having to come face-to-face with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who heads the CRA just days after he criticised the diesel price hike and demanded at least a partial withdrawal. Chandy had also announced his governments decision not to allow 51 per cent foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail business,which the Union Cabinet cleared last week.
Showing the Way
EVEN as Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Monday inaugurated an e-library on law,which will make available to lawyers all judgments of the Supreme Court and the high courts,a similar project by the Law Ministry is stuck for many months. Last year,the ministry had floated tenders for creation of a national e-library on law. The ambitious project,which the then law minister M Veerappa Moily intended to name after former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi,has fallen from the priority list after Salman Khurshid took over as Law Minister. Even the tender has been cancelled. Now,Gujarat has taken the lead in starting what could have been a welcome scheme to encourage lawyers,especially those who cant afford costly books containing judgments.
POOR Sharad Yadav! At last he undertook his first foreign visit,but only to find it jinxed. The JD(U) chief had barely landed in Beijing on September 14 that he learnt of the government having decided to allow FDI in multi-brand retail. He took a flight back home the next day to join the preparations for an Opposition-sponsored bandh for September 20. He should pray for political peace when he flies abroad next, an associate said.