Too late to stop vote
The mercurial Mamata Banerjee changed her mind on supporting the Lokpal Bill in the middle of the Lok Sabha debate. Banerjee dislikes Anna Hazare,feels strongly about the supremacy of States rights and is consequently opposed to the mandatory Lokayukta clause. Banerjee saw the light after listening to the BJDs Bhartruhari Mahtab speak in the debate in the Lok Sabha on TV. But by the time she made up her mind,Banerjee could not communicate her decision to her MPs who were inside the House since the voting process had already begun. The lobbies had been cleared,the doors shut and jammers prevented cell phones from working. Banerjee was so desperate to get the message across to her MPs not to vote in favour of the amendment that she even contacted a senior journalist in Parliament for help. Incidentally,several Trinamool Congress MPs were missing from Parliament. They were busy attending the shraad ceremony of Banerjees mother in Kolkata.
Dream turns nightmare
Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are furious with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal for the bedlam in the Lok Sabha during the voting for the Constitutional Amendment Bill. Suresh Pachouri,a former parliamentary affairs minister,could be heard remarking in a superior fashion that the job involved much more application of mind than what was shown by Bansal and his team of four junior ministers. While Bansal tried to defend himself by pointing out that the numbers were stacked against them,that did not explain why as many as 13 Congress MPs were missing during the voting,though only two had permission to stay away. Congress minister Dinsha Patel was hosting his granddaughters wedding reception in Gujarat and several of the missing MPs from his home state were also at the festivities. Minister for Women and Child Welfare Krishna Tirath pressed the wrong button during the voting and did not realise her error even later when she could have rectified the mistake by sending in a chit. At one stage,even the Congress MPs from Telangana threatened to stage a walkout on the issue of a separate state but they were finally persuaded to vote. No wonder Rahul Gandhi had a face like thunder. Giving the Lokpal constitutional status was his dream or what he called a game-changer.
With his woolen scarf wrapped around his head like a turban,Lalu Prasad spent the whole of last Thursday during the Lokpal debate in the Rajya Sabha in Parliament. Lalu was conspicuous in the Central Hall throughout the afternoon and evening and then moved to the visitors gallery to watch the proceedings at night. In response to queries from journalists that his MPs were planning to create disturbances in the Rajya Sabha to derail the proceedings,Lalu retorted,I am unnecessarily being made the villain of the piece. Cant you see I am sitting here quietly. He added that contrary to the general impression,he was all for reservations for women in Parliament,but if he had been in the Cabinet,the Lokpal Bill would never have come up in Parliament. Neither the SP nor the BSP bit the governments bait to play spoiler in the Rajya Sabha. When TV channels scooped the news that disruptions from the RJD would lead to the adjournment of the House before voting,the Congress troubleshooters hastily proffered a second excuse,claiming that technically the proceedings could not continue past midnight.
Held up for plywood
For the last four years,a gallery for Tanjore paintings has not been opened in the National Museum for a curious reason. Two sheets of plywood backing are required to frame the paintings and to date the necessary requisition has not been cleared due to bureaucratic red tape!
Disappearing D class
One of Anna Hazares main demands is that corruption cases against C and D category government employees should also be handled by the Lokpal. CPI(M) MP Tapan Kumar Sen pointed out a practical difficulty. There were very few D class employees now since the government had phased them out. The work of D class employees was outsourced to contractors. The question is whether this new breed of employees should also come within the purview of the Lokpal?
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