Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullahs fondness for playing with his mobile phone is not unknown. Yet,it was slightly discouraging for students to see him continuously engrossed with his mobile phone as they made passionate speeches,often addressing him directly,during the valedictory function of a batch of Himayat,a training-cum-placement programme for the youth of the state,in Pampore on Saturday. After a while,Abdullah seemed to have noticed the disappointment on the faces of the students. So when his chance came to speak,he sought to justify his pre-occupation with the phone saying he was trying to look for the exact words of an old proverb that he wanted to use in his speech.
Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seths two-year term is coming to an end in June and the grapevine has it that he would be given a one-year extension. In an election year,the government is learnt to be reluctant to bring in a new person for the countrys top bureaucratic position. The Prime Minister has developed a good working relationship with Seth,and in addition there is one precedent for giving an extension to Cabinet Secretary. The previous man in the job,K M Chandrasekhar,had in fact served for two extra years besides his two-year tenure. Meanwhile,names of possible candidates for the job of Comptroller and Auditor General have also started doing the rounds. The present CAG,Vinod Rai,has made the position very high-profile and several names are said to be in circulation. The one that is being discussed prominently is that of Revenue Secretary Sumit Bose.
The appointment of Gopal Krishna,a West Bengal cadre IAS officer,as a joint secretary in the Law Ministry had left many wondering about the utility of an IAS officer in a department whose main role is law-making and interpretation of legal points. Krishna,however,has quickly become an important nodal point in the ministry. Having worked with Law Minister Ashwani Kumar in another ministry earlier,he enjoys the trust of the minister,something that Law Secretary B A Agarwal lacks. So,most of the important files are now routed through him,sometimes even bypassing the Law Secretary. Agarwal,meanwhile,is awaiting information about his future,having applied for other jobs meant for retired officers.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi thrives on media hype but also appears to be cautious about its pitfalls. On Sunday,he felt it necessary to explain his presence at the meeting of BJPs state unit chiefs and national office-bearers. Chief ministers are generally not invited for such meetings,but Modi came and spoke because he happened to be in Delhi for some other reason. Conscious of the fact that the media might play up his presence as greater evidence of his ambitions to take over the BJP,Modi clarified that he had come only because party general secretary Ramlal had rang him up the previous day to invite him for the meeting,and spoke only because party president Rajnath Singh had requested him to do so.
L K Advani and his family was recently invited by President Pranab Mukherjee for a meal at Rashtrapati Bhavan. On the dining table,the two veteran leaders happened to discuss the ongoing activities to mark the 150th birth anniversary year of Swami Vivekananda. Advani said a grand ceremony at Chicago,where Vivekananda delivered his famous speech on religion in 1893,was called for,and suggested that Mukherjee could use his good office to ensure the presence of US President Barack Obama at this function. Mukherjee is learnt to have assured Advani that he would try and explore the feasibility of the proposal.