Home Minister Rajnath Singh had an anecdote to share while addressing the audience at the 80th birth anniversary of Bharat Kisan Union founder Mahendra Singh Tikait Tuesday. When Rajnath was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, he once invited Tikait, who was then leading a farmers’ agitation in the state, for lunch. When Tikait arrived, his eldest son mistakenly sat on the chair meant for Rajnath. That chair, Rajnath said, is with him till date.
Union minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharati seems to have caught a mistake committed by officers in her department. In a response to an RTI application filed by an Ahmednagar-based activist, her department said Rs 39 lakh had been spent to renovate her office and residence since the NDA came to power. But when Bharati herself checked this figure, she discovered that the expense was less than Rs 10 lakh. Sources said she has pulled up officers in her department for giving out wrong information.
No Repeat Telecast
Ever since he demitted office last year, Manmohan Singh has consciously stayed away from the limelight. But he gave a television interview in July when former President A P J Abdul Kalam passed away. It was a personal account of his interactions with Kalam. A senior Congress leader, it seems, saw an opportunity in this. The leader, who was a member of Singh’s council of ministers, came out with a book recently and, around the time of its release, approached Singh with a request. He wanted Singh to give a TV interview to a particular journalist on his book. Singh, who prefers to stay away from the media, turned down the request.
Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan is looking forward to a break from the “beef controversy”. Balyan says that being a vegetarian, he is sick of the continuous discussions and references to meat and beef. He is looking forward to his official trip to Spain to attend the Food and Agricultural Organisation meet. He hopes that by the time he returns Saturday, the focus of the debates would have shifted.
Smoke And Fire
The controversy over a proposal with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Subordinate Legislation to increase the size of warnings on tobacco products refuses to die down. Of late, the Lok Sabha Secretariat has been flooded with representations from owners of small shops that sell cigarettes. Curiously, the representations — both in Hindi and English — are identical. The target of the attack are NGOs which, they claim, are attempting to “aid the smuggling of American cigarettes”.