THE recent stand-off between Congress and UPA ally NCP seems to have raised the profile of Union minister Praful Patel. The influential NCP leader was not a part of any of the GoMs but has now been inducted into the one on corruption and one EGoM on Mass Rapid Transport System. Curiously,however,he has still not been made a member of the EGoM that is to decide the price band and sale of shares held by government in PSUs,despite the fact that he is the Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises. Meanwhile,since the Finance Ministry is currently under the Prime Minister,the two Ministers of State in the ministry S S Palanimanickam and Namo Narain Meena have been inducted into GoMs and EGoMs to represent the ministry.
ALL ON BOARD
AS the UPA leadership gets down to constitute a coordination committee for better cohesion among coalition partners at the Centre,they have decided to give representation to all major parties,which are part of the government. The only exception that is being thought of is the DMK. The UPA leadership is keen to include senior DMK leader TR Baalu in the committee,but he is not a minister yet. In the Cabinet reshuffle expected to be effected in September,Baalu is,however,likely to regain his berth in Cabinet.
RACE FOR TOP JOB
THE race for the post of chairman of Central Board of Direct Tax (CBDT) has begun with the present chairman Laxman Das set to retire. It seems to be a close competition between Dr Poonam Kishore Saxena,a 1974-batch IRS officer handling the charge of legislation and computerization in CBDT. The second strong contender is S S Rana,a 1975-batch IRS officer who was earlier in-charge of investigations when the raids on liquor baron Ponty Chaddha were carried out. After the raids,Rana was posted as Member (Income Tax). Two others on the board,K Madhavan Nair who is Member (Investigation) and S C Jaini who is Member (Revenue),are also in the fray for the top job.
ON THE OFFENSIVE
FEELING emboldened by the lack of big crowds at Jantar Mantar,the Congress is being totally dismissive of the latest round of anti-corruption agitations led by Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev. When Law Minister Salman Khurshid was asked about the ongoing fast of Hazare and his colleagues,he nonchalantly replied that he too was on fast,referring to the holy month of Ramzan. Later when the Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari was asked whether his party would make an appeal to Anna Hazare to call off his fast,he said the party had already said whatever it had to say on the issue.
DURING the sectarian violence in Assam,the Home Ministry received a huge number of representations from different kinds of people,mainly politicians. Almost every MP from Assam sent a petition,putting forth their respective demands. Amidst all this,came a letter from Election Commissioner H S Brahma,expressing concern at clashes. The soft-spoken retired IAS officer is learnt to have offered some suggestions to bring the situation under control.