BJP president Amit Shah’s announcement for a press conference at 1 pm on Friday triggered some amusement in the BJP office corridors. It was the second time in seven days that Shah’s news conference had coincided with luncheon programmes held by Union ministers. Last Friday, when Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel had hosted a lunch, Shah had convened a press conference — around the same time — on the West Bengal government’s decision to deny the BJP permission to hold a Rath Yatra in the state. Today, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was holding her annual winter lunch starting 12.30 pm. Earlier, the day senior party leader Murli Manohar Joshi hosted a Diwali Milan, three senior Union ministers had called the media to the BJP office for an informal chat. The timing was the same — 1 pm.
High On Confidence
As the government was about to field two senior Union ministers to address the media following the Supreme Court’s verdict on Rafale deal on Friday, bureaucrats organising the press conference learnt that the Congress was also holding a press conference at the same time to announce that Ashok Gehlot will become the chief minister of Rajasthan. The bureaucrats were concerned that the ministers may lose out to the Congress on live feed on news channels. But by the time they could take a call, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had already reached the venue. Confident after the top court’s observation, the two decided to go ahead as per schedule.
Citing past precedence, Trinamool Congress MPs Derek O’Brien and Sudip Bandopadhyay have written to the Rajya Sabha chairman and Lok Sabha Speaker, respectively, and asked them to declare December 24, 26 and January 1 as holidays. In the letter, Bandopadhyay has mentioned that it has been a convention for the session to be over by December 22-23, and it has only been delayed for the last two years.
During a session at the Partners’ Forum in Vigyan Bhawan, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi showered rich praise on Health Secretary Preeti Sudan for her role in the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ programme. The two had worked together on the programme during Sudan’s stint as additional secretary in the WCD Ministry. As Maneka spoke, Sudan, who was also on the dais, sported an embarrassed smile.