Narmada, At Last
Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave has finally made it to the ongoing Narmada Yatra programme in Madhya Pradesh. Dave was supposed to be present when the yatra was inaugurated by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the second week of December, but he was made the minister-in-waiting for the visiting Indonesian President. Although the yatra has been going on since then, Dave, who has a long attachment with the Narmada, could not join it due to ill-health. Now that it is in the final leg, he has travelled to Bhopal to attend a related event. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to be present for the concluding function on May 15.
It has been almost a year since the Cabinet reshuffle but a few Ministers of State (MoS) are still waiting for their coveted Lutyens’s bungalow accommodation. The list includes MoS for Defence Subhash Ramrao Bhamre, Women and Child Development’s Krishna Raj, Social Justice’s Ramdas Athawale, HRD’s Mahendra Nath Pandey and Textile’s Ajay Tamta. The Urban Development Ministry has allotted some of these ministers’ bungalows that are presently occupied, among others, by former MoS for HRD Ram Shankar Katheria and for Rural Development Nihal Chand, as well as the families of late P A Sangma and E Ahamed.
With the IIIT Bill still awaiting Parliament’s approval, the HRD Ministry is learnt to be in a bind over the future of the first-batch students graduating this month from the IIITs in Guwahati, Vadodara, Kota and Chittoor. The Bill, introduced in Parliament in the Budget Session, is meant to empower the 15 IIITs to grant degrees to their students. Earlier this year, some IIITs had applied for deemed university status to be able to give degrees in the absence of statutory powers, but their application was rejected since they do not qualify for the category. As a last resort, the ministry has decided to move an ordinance for the purpose. A proposal has been sent to the Law Ministry for vetting.
While his government in Bihar is undergoing a bit of alliance pain of late, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar himself is putting up with some teething troubles – literally. The JD(U) chief is fighting toothache. In the national capital to attend a meeting convened by Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the issue of Maoist terror, Nitish went to AIIMS and is learnt to have spent nearly an hour with the dentist.
The BJP may not have high hopes on emerging as a strong party in Tamil Nadu before 2019. But the party is leaving no stone unturned to connect with Tamils – both in and outside the country. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Sri Lanka on May 11 to attend UN ‘Vesak Day’, which commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha, party president Amit Shah will be on a three-day visit to Tamil Nadu from May 10. Shah is expected to hold discussions with state unit leaders and workers with an aim to expand the party’s base.