President Pranab Mukherjee is keen to be a copybook president who follows norms and cannot be pushed around. The President believes that while Parliament is in session and during his visits abroad,no file should be sent to him. However,this means the government cannot undertake any Cabinet reshuffles,change business rules or modify portfolios during this time. Recently,the PMO was desperate to get Mukherjees approval for a presidential order entrusting Panabaka Lakshmi additional charge as Minister of State in the Textiles Ministry. Parliament was in session and there was no one to answer questions put to the Textiles Ministry. So the file was sent all the way to Bangladesh for Mukherjees clearance since he was on a visit to that country. An angry Mukherjee conveyed to the PMO that while he would make a one-time exception,in future he would not entertain such requests during a Parliament session. He signed the file only after his return from Bangladesh.
Ship may sail away
Union Minister of Shipping G K Vasan is being pressured by his cadres to revive the Tamil Maanila Congress which his late father G K Moopanar founded. With the DMK parting ways with the Congress,Vasans workers see poor prospects for the party. Particularly as neither Sonia nor Rahul Gandhi has taken a strident line on the Sri Lankan issue. The AIADMK has already made overtures to Vasan. The minister has held two rounds of meetings with local leaders to explore the best time to launch his party.
Nitishs new talent
Who is Pavan Varma? queried Sharad Yadav,the JD(U) chief,recently in an acknowledgement of the fact that Nitish picks up talent from time to time from outside without others in the party knowing. Varma is a retired IFS officer and an author who has been appointed adviser to the Bihar government on culture and information with Cabinet-rank status. Varma also assists as the partys spokesperson in Delhi. Nitish is keen that Bihars rich cultural heritage be better publicised. The CM who has read Varmas books became better acquainted with him when he visited Bhutan while Varma was ambassador.
Gujarat PCC chief Arjun Modhwadia is hardly a match for Chief Minister Narendra Modi politically. So he specialises in filing RTI applications against Modi. One of his questions focused on the Chief Ministers bungalow in Gandhinagar and the state-of-the art gadgets therein. Modhwadia is convinced that the gadgets include a high-tech snooping device. Since it is a government bungalow,Modhwadia wants to know the type of hi-tech gadgets it has. As of now,he has received no reply.
A Hindi daily has embarrassed the Planning Commission with an RTI query. The question was how many members of the Planning Commission had recently visited rural India. Except Dr Mihir Shah,none of the other members of the elite think tank had made a trip of late to Indian villages,although they are entrusted with the task of rural planning.
Long and short of it
Secretary General of the Rajya Sabha Shamsher Sharif recalls that it was a matter of considerable pride in his family that three generations had served in the armed forces. When Sharif first joined the IAS,he was asked repeatedly why he had abandoned the family profession. Sharifs reply was that his height had worked against him. He joked that he was ineligible even for a short service commission. Today,Sharif has climbed to the top of the ladder of the civil services by becoming a full secretary to the government of India. The general attached to his designation must be a matter of additional satisfaction.
In December last year,Meenakshi Natarajan,general secretary of the Youth Congress,called on Tamil Nadu leader G K Vasan and demanded that state Youth Congress president M Yuvaraj resign. Yuvaraj protested that he had twice been elected president in the state and the action would amount to a negation of the democratic process that the Youth Congress had undertaken. The allegation against Yuvaraj was that he was involved in the murder of a girl from his village. Yuvaraj protested that he did not understand how the Youth Congress sitting in Delhi had reached this conclusion when no FIR had been registered against him. Yuvaraj finally came to Delhi and resigned under pressure,but there is considerable heartburn in the state Youth Congress executive committee.