Former comptroller and auditor general of India Vinod Rai, who cast himself in the role of an anti-corruption crusader, is planning to write his memoirs. He has signed a contract with a Delhi publisher. During Rai’s tenure as CAG between January 2008 and May 2013, the government had got the rap in several reports of the auditor. Major audits during Rai’s tenure included the 2G spectrum case, the allocation of coal mines and Commonwealth Games 2010. Rai may have some interesting tales to tell, perhaps naming those who, he has alleged, tried to undermine his work.
Gujarat Congress MLAs coming for the party national executive held in Delhi last week had applied on January 11 to book rooms at Gujarat Bhavan in the Capital. But they were told by the staff that there was no space. Out of the 78 rooms there, 28 were actually allotted to Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s security staff during this period.
Congress leader Anil Shastri, son of the late prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, took a swipe at former Congress chief minister Sheila Dikshit while appreciating the Aam Aadmi Party’s gesture in honouring his father. Shastri tweeted that it was a pleasant sight to see new Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and his ministers paying homage to his father at Vijay Ghat. Shastri is a special invitee to the CWC and the chairman of the Hindi department of the AICC. Kejriwal re-tweeted Shastri’s tweet. Shastri’s son Adarsh incidentally recently left a lucrative job in Apple to join AAP.
Priyanka Gandhi is not simply in charge of Congress election campaigns in Amethi and Rae Bareli. Occasionally, she also passes on advice to the party. It was Priyanka who initiated the move for a reconciliation with the DMK. After meetings with Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi, Priyanka advised Ghulam Nabi Azad to call on the DMK chief in an attempt to see if the alliance could still be salvaged. The DMK, Priyanka pointed out, had been a loyal ally that had backed Sonia Gandhi from the beginning on the foreigner issue. The DMK decided to break ties with the Congress due to the fallout of the 2G scam. But now there is a re-think in the party after the Congress promised not to give tickets to DMK baiters and to ensure legal relief for Kanimozhi. It remains to be seen whether the daughters of the northern and southern dynasties can effect a patch-up.
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The expulsion of American diplomat Wayne May as a retaliation for Devyani Khobragade being told to leave the US has been compared in the media to the action taken against American diplomat George Griffin 33 years ago. But there are differences. Griffin was not expelled, he was simply not granted a visa. Also, in that case, India made the first move. It was the US government that in a tit-for-tat response then denied a visa to Prabhakar Menon, an Indian diplomat posted in Washington. Indira Gandhi had instructed P V Narasimha Rao, the then foreign minister, to deny entry to Griffin, who was expected to join the US Embassy in Delhi as political counsellor. Our intelligence agencies had reports that while based in Kolkata on an earlier assignment, Griffin had been working against Indian interests and in favour of Pakistan. He reportedly attempted to split the Awami League, which India was helping in its bid to liberate Bangladesh. Griffin was in regular touch with Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad, a Bangladeshi leader who eventually became president of Bangladesh in 1975 after the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Differences over hall
Mavlankar Hall, built in 1965, was a meeting place for many historic political gatherings. It has now developed cracks in its foundation. BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy, president of the Constitution Club, has been pleading with Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar for several years for permission to renovate. A memorandum seeking the Speaker’s approval to restore the building was signed by 150 MPs. NDA chief L K Advani, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rajeev Shukla later went to meet Kumar too. The elected management of the club has transformed the rest of the premises — setting up a gym, upgrading the swimming pool, providing plush conference rooms and eateries. The club management hoped to renovate Mavlankar Hall in a similar fashion. But, after rejecting the club’s plans, the Speaker, at the fag end of her tenure, has now decided that the Lok Sabha Secretariat will oversee the remodelling.
Fifth column: Remember Kashmiri Pandits?