Congress communications department chairman Ajay Maken’s attempt on Tuesday to score brownie points by attacking BJP president Rajnath Singh for meeting Muslim clerics did not go down well in party circles. Maken’s line of argument was that Shahi Imam himself had come to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi while her BJP counterpart had gone to meet Muslim leaders. It drew dismay from a section of Congress leaders who were of the view that the stress on Imam himself seeking an appointment with Sonia could bolster the opposition’s criticism that the Congress took Muslims for granted while the BJP was going out of the way to address their concerns. They also disapproved of the party attacking the BJP president for meeting Muslim leaders. Nobody was prepared to speak out though, as Maken is close to Rahul Gandhi and he could be voicing the party vice-president’s thinking.
One of the most bitter critics of the UPA government, it seems, was a close adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when it came to China policy. In his book The Accidental Prime Minister, Singh’s former media adviser Sanjaya Baru has mentioned Subramanian Swamy just once in a section on his China advisers. Baru writes that Singh invited, among others, ‘Harvard professor Roderick MacFarquhar and opposition politician and India’s China watcher Subramanian Swamy for long conversations on the subject’.
WANTED: OFFICE SPACE
The seventh Central Pay Commission that was hurriedly cleared by the Cabinet in February — just a few days before the model code of conduct came into force — is yet to have any office. The pay commission, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ashok Kumar Mathur, had asked the Ministry of Urban Development for an office space measuring around 12,000 sq feet anywhere in Delhi. Citing paucity of such space, the ministry declined the request. The commission, which does not have any office, has now asked the ministry to give it a non-availability certificate so that it can take private properties on rent.
With the model code of conduct enforced, the Central Bureau of Investigation’s annual day celebration saw low turnout with not even a single minister attending this year’s lecture. Central Vigilance Commissioner Pradeep Kumar too skipped the event. The agency had to press its Interpol branch into action to get some foreign dignitaries. With Gopal Krishna Gandhi as the chief guest, the agency also called educational institutes and NGO to attend the event. Ultimately, the agency had to bank on its officers and their families to fill the empty chairs.