Narendra Modi was the cynosure of all eyes at the wedding reception of journalist M J Akbar’s son Prayaag last Wednesday. The Gujarat Chief Minister was greeted more like a movie star than a politician when he entered the venue. Several young guests clamoured to be photographed with him. As Modi was leaving, President Pranab Mukherjee entered and the two shook hands. Mukherjee’s presence did not attract much notice. Earlier in the day at Kolkata, Modi in a speech claimed that Mukherjee was twice denied prime ministership by the Congress leadership. Mukherjee did not raise the topic with Modi, but he is reported to have commented to a member of the household, “How could Modi know?”.
No fourth front
Trinmool Congress boss Mamata Banerjee is furious with AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa’s tie-up with Left parties in Tamil Nadu as it is most likely the precursor to a federal front. Mamata automatically gets excluded from the proposed front because of the presence of Communists. To try and form an alternative front, Mamata sent MP Mukul Roy to Orissa to meet Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. But Patnaik did not grant Roy an appointment.
Pakistanis do not take much pride in Mohenjo Daro, the site of one of the world’s earliest civilisations, located in Sindh. The settlement on the banks of the Indus goes back to 2,600 BC, but many Pakistanis prefer to trace their roots to the Middle East.
Since the Pakistan government has been unconcerned about Mohenjo Daro, it is UNESCO that has played the key role in the preservation of the site. Last week, Bilawal Bhutto held a Sindhi festival at Mohenjo Daro, located near the family home of Larkana. The cultural extravaganza with plenty of sound and light included a fashion show and modern dance. UNESCO sent out a warning that the festival would cause further erosion of the ruins. But Bhutto was unmoved. However, all foreign envoys except the Russian ambassador stayed away.
Notice to DD
The Election Commission sent a notice to Doordarshan holding the network guilty of violating the model code of conduct in a programme telecast on December 4 last year. DD was charged with slanting a programme in favour of then Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit and was asked to explain its position by December 21. But no one in DD bothered to respond to the EC’s notice. CEO of Prasar Bharati Jawhar Sircar learnt about the existence of the EC’s note only later. He shot off an angry letter to the director general (news) and director general (DD), asking them to explain the lapse and fix responsibility for such “prejudicial” reporting. He reminded them that DD was the wing of an autonomous board and not part of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The network is meant to maintain its independence from the government. However, Sircar too has received no response. Officials of DD are aware that while on paper Prasar Bharati is an independent body, in reality employees report to the ministry, which pays the staff salaries and decides promotions and transfers.
Assault on bastion
The BJP is making an all out attempt to capture the Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat in Madhya Pradesh — held by Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Kamal Nath for the past 33 years. Nath is a nine-time MP from here. The BJP believes that if it can wrest Chhindwara, it can make a clean sweep in the state. Last week, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan visited the constituency along with BJP president Rajnath Singh and former president Nitin Gadkari. Tribal leader Faggan Singh Kulaste was also present. Chhindwara has a tribal population of over 30 per cent and the BJP is planning to put up a tribal from there for the first time.
Changing its mind
Former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi had written to the government in 2012 suggesting that there should a two-year cooling off period for retiring IAS and IPS officers before they can join a political party. Under the present rules, officers are barred from taking up a job only in the private sector for two years after leaving so that they do not show special favour to future employers. The government rejected the proposal, but is now feeling the pinch. Former home secretary R K Singh, former Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh and India’s former permanent representative to the UN Hardeep Puri have all joined the BJP soon after retiring or quitting. R K Singh has additionally been levelling all kinds of charges against his former boss, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde. The Centre has now had a re-think and is proposing to bring in the rule that officers cannot join political parties soon after superannuating.