The Left might not be a part of the government,but it seems they are still able to exercise some influence on South Blocks priorities. A day after CPM Politburo member Brinda Karat met Foreign Minister S M Krishna asking him to expedite the return of the children of a Norway-based Indian couple,Krishna summoned the Norwegian envoy and asked him to expedite the return of the children,who have been put under the foster care of their uncle by the Norwegian child welfare services on grounds of deep neglect by the Indian parents. Incidentally,the envoy informed that his government was footing the bill of the foster care so that the couple is not financially burdened.
While Law Minister Salman Khurshid seemed uncompromising on his minority quota remark that had invited a sharp rebuke from the Election Commission,it was the advice of one of his law officers that finally made him regret his statement. As the government came to know that the EC was planning action against Khurshid,it deputed Additional Solicitor General Vivek Tankha to talk to the Commission. It was on Tankhas advice that the government asked Khurshid to send a letter of regret.
Formal events involving the President or Prime Minister generally proceed with clockwork precision. But not a workshop at Rashtrapati Bhawan on Wednesday which was called by President Pratibha Patil and attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The Presidents Secretary,Christy Fernandez,overshot his schedule in welcoming the guests and so did Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil,who heads a Committee of Governors,prompting Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to keep looking at his watch in disbelief. So much so,that by the time it was the turn of the Prime Minister to speak,the function had already been delayed by over 45 minutes. Interestingly,while all the top functionaries of the government were present at the event,Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh skipped it,preferring to attend a national consultation on sanitation policy instead. He had sent his regrets to the Presidents office earlier.
Talks on Talks
India is still waiting for Pakistan to confirm the dates of the next round of home secretary-level talks between the two countries. In December last year,New Delhi had proposed that these talks could be held on December 22 and 23 but did not hear from Pakistan. Two months later,the situation has still not changed. The talk in the diplomatic circles was that Pakistans Interior Minister A Rehman Malik had been holding back the dates because he was peeved at India for not honouring his desire to travel to New Delhi on a ministerial visit. It is now learnt that Khan has agreed to delink the two issues,paving the way for an announcement of the dates soon.