It pays to be an obedient party worker. Ravi Shankar Prasad was the chief spokesperson for BJP when Nitin Gadkari was the president but was left out of any organisational responsibility when Rajnath Singh constituted his team. Like an obedient soldier,Prasad immediately stopped giving sound-bytes or reactions on behalf of the party to media organisations. But a new order from Rajnath Singh on people authorised to speak on television has upgraded Prasad to a club reserved for leaders of the rank of Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley,and some other top leaders. The order has allowed Prasad,partys deputy leader in Rajya Sabha,and Gopinath Munde,who holds a similar position in Lok Sabha,to speak on behalf of the party on any platform on any issue. Prasad,thus,may no longer be the chief spokesperson but has been empowered again.
RUNNING INTO TROUBLE
THE Food Safety and Standards Association of India had decided to apply an internationally-accepted standard to imported food. And not surprisingly,the move has almost run into trouble. Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azads office is inundated with applications from firms whose consignments there are nearly 3,000 of them are being held up at ports. But what is complicating the problem for the Health Ministry is that a section within the FSSAI,peeved at the loss of discretionary powers,is pushing hard for the withdrawal of the decision.
A NEW name has emerged in the race for the post of Director General,National Investigation Agency. Sharad Kumar,a 1979-batch IPS officer who is now DG,Prisons,Haryana,is already being talked about as the top contender. Among other candidates,Prakash Mishra of Orissa is said to have expressed his reluctance while K Saleem Ali,special director in the CBI,is retiring later this year. Kumar is in service till 2015. If appointed,he would be the second consecutive Haryana-cadre officer to get the job. His predecessor S C Sinha,the first head of the elite anti-terror force,also belonged to the same state.
HOME Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde would have to let go of his private secretary for the second time in two months. Last month,his private secretary Lokesh Chandra,a 1993-batch IAS officer of the Maharashtra cadre,had been empanelled as a joint secretary and moved to the Steel Ministry. Government rules do not allow an officer of joint secretary rank to serve as private secretary to a minister. Shinde,however,had selected Chandras batchmate,Surendra Kumar Bagde,also of the Maharashtra cadre,as his PS. Bagde had not been empanelled as joint secretary then. Earlier this month,however,Bagde was among three officers of the 1993 batch who were empanelled as joint secretaries. Director-rank officers of the Maharashtra cadre have a job opening.