The choice was between an opportunity to attend the inaugural mass of Pope Francis I,and to pilot one of UPAs keenly awaited food legislation in Parliament,and Food Minister K V Thomas is having to be content with doing his duty as a minister. The government wanted Thomas to represent India at the new Popes inaugural mass on March 19,and that had pleased the only Christian minister in the ministry,apart from Defence Minister A K Antony,no end. But it so happened that a special Cabinet meeting got slotted for March 18 to discuss and clear the ambitious Food Security Bill. The government also intends to place the Bill before Parliament on March 21 before the current session breaks for the recess. This leaves too little time for Thomas to fly to the Vatican and come back.
FOCUS IS BACK
ABOUT three years after his visit to Niyamgiri Hills in Orissa that had led to the cancellation of Vedantas mining project,Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhis focus is back on tribals. At a meeting with party MPs from Orissa and Jharkhand on Thursday,he indicated his plans to convene a meeting of partys tribal leaders from across the country to discuss the problems faced by tribal community and formulate partys strategy. He is also going to revive tribal cells at the AICC and PCC levels. Given the fate of Vedanta project,the latest plan may set alarm bells ringing in India Inc.
CONGRESS MP from Uttar Pradesh Jagadambika Pal may have created a ruckus in the Lok Sabha over the supposed lack of allocation in his constituency in the Rail Budget,but it turns out that his area has received a generous sanction of Rs 125 crore for an ongoing work of doubling lines in this budget. Moreover,his is the only constituency where Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has visited for the inauguration of doubling works. After all this,the reason behind his ire,it seems,is that he did not get a train that he wanted very badly. But Pal has been politely told by officials that due to technical/operational reasons as well as resource constraints,that may not be possible.
THE one-time powerful position of Special Secretary (Internal Security) in the Home Ministry seems to be slowly losing its sheen. It used to be the second most important bureaucratic office after that of the Home Secretary. The present SS (IS),however,stands significantly weakened with many of his earlier tasks having been shifted to others. Now,there is an Additional Secretary for Kashmir affairs,and another Additional Secretary for Naxal management,who also oversees north-eastern affairs. These positions used to be coalesced in SS (IS) earlier.
PLANNING Commission Secretary Sindhushree Khullar seems to have impressed the government with her abilities. She has not only been given a two-year extension in her current job,on contract,after her retirement this month,an additional responsibility has come her way. The government has created the post of Mission Director,for its Direct Benefits Transfer Scheme which was launched at the start of this year and is being projected as the game-changer for the ruling coalition in the elections next year. The post has gone to Khullar,a 1975-batch IAS officer,till further orders.
Lokayukta recommends action on ex-UP minister
LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta N K Mehrotra on Thursday recommended the prosecution of BSP state president Ram Achal Rajbhar for allegedly amassing assets disproportionate to known sources of income by misusing his post during his tenure as transport minister in the previous BSP government. In a 34-page inquiry report submitted to CM Akhilesh Yadav,Mehrotra suggested that an FIR should be lodged against Rajbhar under Prevention of Corruption Act,and the case be probed by the CBI or the UP Vigilance Establishment or the Anti-Corruption Organisation.