So terse was the clearance from the Ministry of Defence for Army Chief General V K Singhs visit to Nepal for a conference on disaster management that only two staff officers have been allowed as part of the Indian Army delegation to Kathmandu. It is not even clear if the General can take along an aide-de-camp (ADC) who functions as a personal secretary. The message seems to be loud and clear for the Army Chief.
Party in Limbo
With Congress president Sonia Gandhi preoccupied with health issues,the institutional mechanisms in the party seem to be floundering. While the highest decision-making body of the party,the Congress Working Committee,has not met for months,even other entities meant to address day-to-day,urgent issues are becoming irrelevant. The much-hyped Research & Coordination Department,which includes many senior party strategists and ministers and which used to meet regularly at the war room at Gurdwara Rakabganj Road,has not met since last September. The partys media department headed by Janardhan Dwivedi has convened a meeting of the four spokespersons only once in the past two-and-a-half years even as they continue to take conflicting stances on crucial issues. It is of no help that the partys heir apparent Rahul Gandhi has shown little interest in addressing these issues and has given no glimpse of his future plans.
For ministers,there is always a reason to claim credit,if not for building roads,then at least for approving projects to build roads. The Road Transport Ministry is nowhere near its stated target of constructing 20 km of roads every day but it issued a press statement last week which gave the Minister C P Joshi credit for clearing projects at an average rate of 20 km a day. It said that the minister had approved 58 projects in the last one year,the total length of which would add up to mean that 20 km of projects were approved every day. And just to ensure that the message was not lost on anyone,the statement said this rate of approval was 40 per cent more than the previous year,when another minister was at the helm.
Trinamool Congress was surprised by the sudden rise to prominence of one of its low-key MPs,Ambika Banerjee,whose letter to Defence Ministry on the countrys defence preparedness has raised a major storm. Recovering from a brief illness at his home in Howrah,Banerjee was flooded with calls from his party colleagues in Delhi and Kolkata,many of who advised him not to compound matters further by making statements on the issue. Banerjee,by that time,had already given several interviews. The party is then learnt to have asked him to shift to some other place and lie low for some time. The octogenarian MP is understood to have moved to his daughters home in central Kolkata after that.
Lobby for Law
With Law Secretary D R Meena scheduled to retire at the end of April,lobbying for the post has begun. Among those who are in the reckoning are Law Commission Secretary B A Aggarwal and Special Secretary N K Nampoothiry. An interesting twist is that while Aggarwal retires in May-end,Nampoothiry is to retire on the same day as Meena. A third contender,Legislative Secretary V K Bhasin,is also set to retire in a few months. Meanwhile,there is also a renewed effort by the IAS lobby to get one of its own posted as Law Secretary,a position that has so far eluded the cadre.