With Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s outburst against Sachin Pilot leading to yet another crisis in the state Congress, the first meeting of the party’s steering committee convened by new AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge on December 4 has become interesting and significant. The steering committee meeting was called to finalise dates for the AICC plenary session to ratify Kharge’s election as Congress president. The meeting would have reviewed the progress of the Bharat Jodo Yatra and discussed the strategy for the upcoming winter session of Parliament. But with Gehlot raising the heat in Rajasthan, deliberations in the meeting would now be keenly watched. After taking over as party chief, Kharge had reconstituted the Congress Working Committee as the steering committee in accordance with the party’s constitution.
Railway PSU Indian Railway Finance Corporation had as good as abandoned its official premises on Lodhi Road two years ago and shifted to the plush Ashoka Hotel on rent. While it ran its corporate headquarters from the rented space, paying around Rs 1 crore each month, its own building remained vacant, redesignated as a facility for “training”. Now, it is learnt that the PSU is considering a move to get back to its own building, as it has been pointed out internally that precious government resources — money and space — are being wasted. It is being said that the company is incurring losses amounting to crores, as it had moved to a rented accommodation keeping its own building at a prime location vacant.
While the Supreme Court’s remarks on Thursday on appointment of the election commissioner may have stunned some in the ruling dispensation, an Opposition MP had sought to move a private member’s Bill a month ago to amend the Constitution and “establish a selection procedure of CEC and other ECs with proper checks and balances”. The Bill, placed by CPI(M) Rajya Sabha member John Brittas, seeks to amend 324(2) of the constitution to ensure a selection committee comprising the Chief Justice of India, the Lok Sabha Speaker and the leader of the largest opposition party in Lok Sabha recommends names for CEC and ECs’ appointment. The Bill, which also proposes an independent secretariat for the Election Commission, is to be moved in the upcoming winter session. It may get more attention from the government in the backdrop of the apex court’s observations.