The tumble down at Islamabad,despite all the preparations, has prompted an introspection in New Delhi as well. While Indian interlocutors were left baffled by the way Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi came across at the talks,there is a considerable gulf between Home Ministry and External Affairs Ministry that too needs to be urgently bridged. The MEA apparently did not even get a detailed read out of what transpired during the Home Ministers visit in June and more importantly,remains completely in the dark on what David Coleman Headley told NIA interrogators. The extent of the ISI involvement being one such critical issue. Its learnt that this serious lapse in coordination has now reached the Prime Ministers doorstep for resolution after S M Krishnas visit fell below expectations. Believe it or not, the other thought doing the rounds in South Block is never to schedule Indo-Pak talks on July 15-16. It was on July 16,2001,that then MEA spokesperson Nirupama Rao,now Foreign Secretary, told a tired press in Agra that the destination of an agreed joint statement has not been reached. It was also on July 16 last year that the controversial joint statement at Sharm-el-Sheikh was released,which led to a furore in Parliament.
Timeout for Rahul,this time for Africa
The past few weeks have been quiet family time for Rahul Gandhi. The highlight being a trip to South Africa with brother-in-law Robert Vadra and nephew Rehan to watch the FIFA World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands. It was a boys only affair,with the trio just enjoying the match and not getting dragged into political pleasantries. Rahul,incidentally,is rumoured to be an avid supporter of Brazil.
Ananth feels Modi heat
BJP president Nitin Gadkari is set to assign responsibilities to his team members soon. And the buzz in the party is that general secretary Ananth Kumar,who is currently co in-charge of Bihar,may not retain the state. His invitation to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to campaign in Bihar did not go down well with the JD(U) and came when the BJP,although reluctantly,was trying to mend fences with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Home alone,with doors open
Home Minister P Chidambarams monthly report cards for his ministry have already set a new benchmark in transparency for his Cabinet colleagues. He is now trying to raise the bar higher. Chidambaram has decided to fill a vacancy in his personal staff that of Officer on Special Duty through interviews of eligible candidates. An unusual advertisement was posted on the ministry’s website last week seeking applications from IPS officers of 1993 to 1996 batch,with a two-page CV,by July 23. Of course,none of his Cabinet colleagues is expected to follow suit even the monthly report cards remain a Home exclusive considering the lengths that ministers go to induct their favourite officers as personal staff.
Marking the babus
If The introduction of a biometric attendance system in the Home Ministry had upset a number of staffers,it is now the turn of babus in other ministries to feel the heat. Last week saw the Ministry of Culture install biometric finger printing based attendance systems for its babulog at Shastri Bhawan. The coming weeks are likely to see many more ministries adopt the sure shot attendance recorder. And yes,many are complaining.
Bhardwaj and his legal heir
While Karnataka Governor H R Bhardwaj was all over headlines during his visit to New Delhi last week for his stand against Bellary’s mining lobby,the former law minister appears to be missing his former job acutely. Or so it seems from his opinions about his successor,M Veerappa Moily. In his interactions here,Bhardwaj questioned the need for a new law against honour killings,saying that existing laws were enough to deal with khap panchayats. The former law minister then went on to criticise the Centres counter-affidavit in the Supreme Court denying Maharashtra’s claims on Belgaum. He saw Moilys role behind the affidavit as the incumbent law minister hails from Karnataka.
Writer Moily has a fan in CJI
Chief Justice of India seems mighty impressed with Law Minister Veerappa Moilys Ramayana Mahanveshanam,whose English translation from the original Sanskrit-Kannada he released recently. In open court,during a hearing when Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium could not confirm whether a trust body under judicial scanner was religious or philosophic in nature,the CJI offered that he could always ask the Law Minister. The comment drew laughter in the courtroom,but the SG blithely wriggled out of the situation by replying that My Lord’s suggestion is a leading one.
How BJP Hegde-d its bets
let us fight the Congress and not the Lokayukta, this simple in-house conclusion by senior BJP leaders made them seek a rapprochement with Santosh Hegde. Accordingly,when Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa met Hegde and undertook to meet all his demands,he suggested that an appeal to him by senior BJP leader L K Advani precede the peace deal. The former deputy prime minister promptly obliged and everything fell into place according to the script.
After Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit a few days back,it was the turn of noted social activist Aruna Roy who also happens to be a member of Sonia Gandhi-led NAC to haggle with security staff manning the entry to Krishi Bhavan. Roy,who was to attend a meeting regarding the NREGS,was stopped by the security staff for want of an entry pass. To add to her woes,ex-MP Madhusudan Mistry,the member of the NREGS monitoring body chairing the meeting,stopped Roy from taking a few other activists with her into the meeting. An infuriated Roy was consequently at her sarcastic best during the entire meeting. Given Roys mood and her clout,the officials later recounted to the security staff and others how an IAS officer in Rajasthan was recently transferred within hours of picking an issue with a junior IAS officer who was close to Roy. This despite the fact that the transferred officer was close to CM Ashok Gehlot and PCC chief and also the current Rural Development Minister C P Joshi. Apparently Gehlot even had to fax a letter showing compliance of transfer orders to the Congress leadership.
Sibals visitor list
Kapil Sibal has sure made the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry more attractive to those moving in more refined circles. So if you have the likes of foreign ambassadors,eminent academics and industrialists like Mukesh Ambani and Sunil Bharti Mittal calling on him,you also have the Aamir Khans,Javed Akhtars and Mahesh Bhatts. The latest entrant to the club was former Miss India Gul Panag,who lit up the Shastri Bhawan corridors when she came seeking the HRD Ministrys help with some school projects her foundation is working on. While Sibal is yet to take a call on it,Panag was spotted going back quite pleased.
Let the musical chairs begin
Bureaucratic circles in Bharat Sarkar are again abuzz with several posts in key departments falling vacant soon. While the posts of two Commissioners in the Central Vigilance Commission are still to be filled up,the Chief Vigilance Commissioners post too will fall vacant after current incumbent Pratyush Sinhas term ends in a couple of months. Similarly,one of the two Election Commissioner posts is likely to fall vacant after one of the ECs succeeds Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla,following the end of his term this month. The country’s top aviation security body,the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) too has been working without a regular chief for months now and may soon see an appointment at the helm. With several posts in the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) also to be filled up,hordes of IAS and IPS officials,including retired ones,are busy making the right networking moves nowadays.
A slice of Obama luck?
Us President Barack Obamas visit to India on November 7-8 may prove to be a blessing in disguise for Indian Ambassador to US Meera Shankar who,otherwise,retires on October 31. Now there is a strong possibility of her getting a few months extension for the sake of continuity in arranging such a high-profile visit. Since no extension can be for just a few weeks,it could mean she could get at least two to three months. However,a decision is still to be formalised.
Azad loyalists vs Omar
Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has taken up the issue of Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chands non-cooperation to the Congress high command. The Deputy CM had stayed away from last Mondays all-party meet,convened by the CM,on the pretext that he had got no invitation and he had to go to Jammu for a meeting. State Congress chief Saifuddin Soz called up to remind the Deputy CM that he was also a host and needed no invitation. As for his Jammu meeting,Soz spoke to Omar to arrange for a helicopter so that Tara Chand could fly to Jammu well in time for his meeting. Minutes before the all-party meet,Soz assured the CM that his deputy would turn up. But when Omars aides informed him that Tara Chand was already on his way to Jammu,an infuriated CM told Soz to lodge a formal protest on his behalf to the Congress high command against the Deputy CMs conduct. It was in this context that Omar and Congress president Sonia Gandhi discussed the need for cooperation and coordination between the National Conference and the Congress and for strengthening their coalition. Last heard,AICC general secretary in charge of the state Prithviraj Chavan issued a show cause notice to Tara Chand demanding a written explanation for his conduct. But with Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad being his patron and guide,the Deputy CM does not have to lose his sleep.
The Congress may be livid over his Afzal remark,but BJP president Nitin Gadkari is happy with its impact on the public. It has added 5 per cent to our vote, he claimed while interacting with the media the other day.