The Japanese government is upset with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to postpone his visit to Japan. It was expected to be Modi’s first major official meeting with a foreign head of government since taking office. The Japanese, incidentally, learnt of the postponement from the Indian media. The official reason for re-scheduling the PM’s trip is that Modi would not have been able to make any substantial policy offers just days before the Budget. However, the Japanese suspect the hand of China behind the postponed visit, since Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to meet Modi at the BRICS summit in Brazil on July 15-16. The Japanese are not the only ones upset by the PM’s changed plans. The RSS also noted with concern that the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi took a full hour with the PM rather than the customary 15 minutes during his recent visit to the capital. They fears the PM is too enamoured of China, whom the Sangh views with great suspicion.
Sip of water
The CBI probe into the death of Maharashtra leader Gopinath Munde is likely to reveal that it was a sip of water, given to Munde at his own request, after the accident on Prithviraj Road, which became the cause for his death. Due to the impact of the Tata Indica which slammed into the Maruti Swift in which he was travelling, Munde’s cervical vertebra suffered a fracture between C1 and C2 vertebrae. It is at this joint at the base of the skull through which the vertebral artery, which supplies blood to the brain, passes. The artery was lacerated due to the spinal cord fracture. When Munde’s head was eased back so he could drink water, the neck, already in a fragile condition, snapped. At least this is what the AIIMS trauma centre believes caused his death.
Now that he is the Finance Minister, it has become difficult for Arun Jaitley to take his daily walks in Lodhi Gardens. On his walk, he is accosted by all manner of favour-seekers who have requests for jobs, transfers and postings. The minister who is to move into 2, Krishna Menon Marg, may shift his morning walk to the spacious confines of the Lutyens bungalow that has been allotted to him. The compound has a special walking track built by its previous occupant, Sushil Kumar Shinde. Incidentally, the road is notorious for monkeys, which create a major nuisance in the area. This is reportedly the reason why former solicitor general Mohan Parasaran didn’t move into the house earmarked for solicitor generals on the same road. The new Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar is now in a dilemma on whether to move into his official quarters.
West Asian envoys are a tad miffed since President Pranab Mukherjee’s address to the joint session of Parliament failed to make any reference to India’s relations with countries in the region. Previous such addresses have always made a mention of India’s close ties with these countries. The slip may not have been deliberate but the slight has been compounded by the fact that Narendra Modi has not yet had the time to reply personally to the congratulatory notes from leaders of this region following his election as the PM.
For several years, Room No. 1 of the guesthouse of the Cochin Port Trust in Kochi had been reserved for just one person. The room has a stunning view of the harbour, but permission was usually denied to bureaucrats, politicians or foreign dignitaries who wished to stay there, even when it was vacant. This was because there was a standing instruction from the PMO to keep the room reserved for T K A Nair, the former principal secretary to Manmohan Singh. Nair is also Chairman of the office of the Cochin Port Trust. Now that he is no longer in the PMO, perhaps the coveted room can be allotted to other guests as well.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has changed the day for Cabinet meetings from Thursday to Wednesday. He has also set a new tradition. He has informed President Pranab Mukherjee that he will brief him about new decisions in the government every alternate Thursday.
Also a victim
The Independent Evaluation Office, which released a report this week suggesting the virtual scrapping of the Planning Commission and that the responsibility of allocation of funds which is now with the Planning Commission should be vested with the Finance Ministry, is itself a victim of the Planning Commission’s ‘high-handedness’. It has not received funds for the last several months.