CPM general secretary Prakash Karat had a light moment during an otherwise intense exchange of views with women journalists on Saturday. Asked about the role of money power and the “going rate” for voters in Tamil Nadu, Karat said the rates were “much lower” this time. After a hearty laugh, he said the rates were in fact “half this time”. Not only did this elicit a round of laughter but also jokes about how this reflected the state of the economy.
MATTER OF CLOUT
With the UPA government left with a few days in office, bureaucrats close to the current establishment are busy plucking key appointments and postings for themselves. In a surprise move, Civil Aviation Secretary K N Srivastava has bagged the post of vice-chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). In doing so, he pipped none other than Secretary to the Prime Minister R Ramanujam who was the top contender. This has left many in bureaucracy bemused as to whether bureaucrats in Manmohan Singh’s PMO set-up have already lost their clout.
UP FOR GRABS
The Paryavaran Bhawan is abuzz with speculation about the next chairman of the National Biodiversity Authority — a body that falls under the ambit of the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests. Joint Secretary Hem Pande is presently holding additional charge of the Authority. Grapevine has it that secretary (Environment) V Rajagopalan, who is due to retire in August, is vying for the top job at National Biodiversity Authority.
IN CBI’s DEFENCE
A Former IPS officer, Manoje Nath, has come out in defence of the CBI after the agency faced severe criticism by its chief guest Gopal Krishna Gandhi at its annual D P Kohli memorial lecture recently. Nath has written an article defending the CBI in which he criticised the undue motives attributed to the agency by Gandhi in his speech. The CBI was quick to showcase Nath’s write-up on its website in which he had also criticised Gandhi’s description of ‘CBI director posing a threat to the political class’. Incidentally, both Nath and CBI director Ranjit Sinha come from the Bihar cadre.