POSITIONS in the powerful National Advisory Council,headed by Sonia Gandhi,is up for grabs. The tenure of the current members came to an end on May 31. The next meeting of the NAC is scheduled for June 29. That means that it has to be either reconstituted before that date or the tenure of the current members extended as happened last year. Even in the case of extension,there are two vacant positions,caused by the death of Ram Dayal Munda and the resignation of Jean Dreze last year.
WHILE the hectic political activity around the candidacy for President,in which his party boss Mamata Banerjee was playing the most crucial role,was underway,Railway Minister Mukul Roy went to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence on Wednesday with a demand for increase in grant for the Railway Safety Fund. In view of several recent accidents,Roy had apparently written to the PM a few weeks ago seeking fresh infusion of funds for safety. This fund was last replenished in a major way during Nitish Kumars tenure as Railway Minister in the NDA regime when Rs 17,000 crore was pumped in. The closing balance of this fund in the last fiscal was merely Rs 1,460 crore. If approved by the Finance Ministry,the extra money would ensure that the Railways can continue to operate without raising its fares for some more time.
THE Defence Ministrys decision to suspend BEML chief V R S Natarajan on the recommendation of the CBI came as a surprise to many but the person most flummoxed was the CMD himself. Even after a formal note informing him of the decision was received by the officer in Hyderabad,he refused to believe it. In fact,he called up a senior bureaucrat at South Block to check whether the information was indeed correct. Only after being told once again about the order did Natarajan vacate his office and drove home.
Good News,Bad News
AT the time when his future was being deliberated upon in a meeting between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Congress president Sonia Gandhi,Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was stealing some time off from his hectic schedule. He was learnt to be taking rest in his office chamber in North Block. Soon after he resumed work,came the good news and the bad news that he was the first preference of his party for the post of President and Banerjees rejection of his candidature.
THE appointment of Prof David R Syiemlieh as a member of the UPSC is the subject of much discussion in the Army these days. For Syiemlieh will replace Lt Gen (retd) Nirbhay Sharma. One of the members of the UPSC has always,by convention,been a person with an army background. On retirement,this person is replaced with another retired Army official. This practice seems to have been continued in this instance and is being seen as an indication of the declining fortunes of the Army within the system.
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