You can trust Jairam Ramesh to walk where angels fear to tread. When the entire Cabinet was unanimous last week to bring an ordinance to implement the Food Security Bill,the irrepressible Union Rural Development Minister sounded a discordant note not because he was concerned about the subsidy burden on the exchequer,but because he believed that an ordinance would mean that no other legislations,including the Land Acquisition Bill,would be allowed by the Opposition to be passed in the next session of Parliament. That was certainly food for thought for UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi,albeit a bit late in the day.
FOR FAIR SHARE
The Congress may have governments in a majority of Northeast states,but there were few names from there in the recently revamped list of AICC office-bearers,barring from Assam. Some party leaders have even written to Congress president Sonia Gandhi about inadequate representation for Christian Tribal communities from the Northeast in the revamped AICC. One such letter by K Sareen says the Christian tribals do not find a place in the 22-member Congress Working Committee or even in the lists of CWC special invitees and permanent invitees,nor do they figure in the officer-bearers list.
THE Press Information Bureau (PIB) in Delhi is in the middle of a massive exercise moving offices from Shastri Bhawan to the swanky new National Press Centre on Raisina road. In fact,most PIB officers will soon be available only at the new office the shifting is expected to be complete by this month-end. The only PIB officers who will continue to hold fort at Shastri Bhawan will be those whose ministries may be housed there the count is a good 25 officers.
Close to two months after earlier incumbent Prem Narain went on medical leave,sparking speculation about differences with minister Krishna Tirath,Nita Chowdhury has taken over as secretary,Women and Child Development. Chowdhury who was until recently Secretary,Youth Affairs,was also holding additional charge of the WCD top job. Filling in Chowdhurys slot at Youth Affairs is Sangita Gairola who was until last week Secretary,Culture. Gairola,in fact,left the Culture Ministry rather in a haste. She did not even meet her joint secretaries and senior staffers before leaving the ministry and just signed relevant papers and moved out of office. Incidentally,she is succeeded by 1979 batch IAS officer Ravindra Singh who was serving as Additional Secretary in the same ministry and is said to have the ear of Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch.
The biggest union of the Indian Railways,the All India Railwaymens Federation,had already threatened to go on an indefinite strike from October. Now,the second-largest union,Congress-affiliated National Federation for Indian Railwaymen,has also decided to go on an indefinite strike. The unions demands relate to their pay structure and promotions. Together the two federations represent almost the entire 1.4 million staff of the Railways. Not many in the ministry are losing their sleep though. First,because post-1974,there has not been any such big strike by railwaymen. And,secondly,the unions have given about four months time to the government to fulfil their demands.