Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has irked many Congressmen for what they believe is his attempt at putting himself ahead of the party. Among the districts his ministry recently selected for an award for good performance on NREGA was Sarguja in Chhattisgarh. The award has taken the steam out of the campaign of the state Congress against the alleged irregularities in the implementation of the NREGA in the BJP-ruled state. Jairams action has been followed by another minister,C P Joshi,who recently decided to praise the NDA government led by Nitish Kumar in Bihar for its performance on roads. Many in the Congress have been left wondering whether the ministers were being objective in their assessments or were doing this with some other objective in mind.
There is no doubt that the BJP is the most media savvy among all political parties in the country. On Thursday,it became the first to unveil its own internet TV channel called Yuva. Inaugurating the online TV channel,BJP president Nitin Gadkari said it was one of the initiatives to tap into Young India and would have interviews and other programmes which would project the party stand on various issues. Gadkari,however,was quick to add that the channel was not a commercial venture and would not pose a threat to regular news channels. He then seemed to be dangling carrots to the media,saying the channel would carry analysis and in-depth programmes with journalists as guest speakers.
Doing a balancing act in the Punjab Assembly elections this time,the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda supported selective candidates across party lines to avoid any post-election backlash like what it had suffered for openly supporting the Congress five years ago. Dera chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh was learnt to have passed down instructions to support two candidates of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir),three Congress candidates (Amarinder Singh,his son Raninder and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal) and also Manpreet Badal and three others from the Peoples Party of Punjab. The remaining seats,he left to the discretion of his followers.
The Law Ministry may have objected to the Election Commissions proposal to launch the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management,but the Commission is going ahead with its plan. It has set the ball rolling for construction of a building for the institute on the five acre plot allotted to it by the Delhi Development Authority. On Thursday,the EC invited Expression of Interest from architect firms with an experience of completing an assignment worth a total of at least Rs 100 crore in the last three years for architectural consultancy to create a state-of-the-art campus spread across an area of 20,000 square metres.