Taste of aamhttps://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/tasteofaam/

Taste of aam

The bureaucrat protested that it was a personal question and he was not obliged to answer.

Whether Modi will succeed in getting his way remains to be seen.
Whether Modi will succeed in getting his way remains to be seen.

Taste of aam

The bureaucracy in Delhi is getting a taste of ‘aam aadmi raj’, and finding it difficult to digest it. First, the law secretary asked to be transferred after his minister scolded him for not convening a meeting of all district judges in Delhi, at the Secretariat. In another case, an AAP minister asked the principal secretary in his department how he could afford an iPhone. He also asked the official whether his children went to a private school and wanted to know the name of the school. The bureaucrat protested that it was a personal question and he was not obliged to answer. The minister retorted that there was nothing personal between a minister and his secretary. The secretary, finding that his lifestyle, instead of the agenda of the meeting, was the focus of the minister’s attention, left the room.

Radical Modi-fication

The BJP’s campaign in-charge Narendra Modi has proposed that 50 per cent of all sitting party MPs be dropped for the 2014 polls so that the party does not have to face the burden of anti-incumbency. He also wants to copy the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in inducting professionals and common people rather than full-time politicians. Whether Modi will succeed in getting his way remains to be seen. Major fireworks are expected at a meeting of the BJP’s top order to thrash out the issue.

Sheila OSD on editors

Pawan Khera, OSD to former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, has tweeted about alleged links between editors and AAP. His point is that “while no one can have a problem with editors’ political leanings, one expects editors to declare their leanings”. Citing examples of favouritism towards the party by TV editors, Khera tweeted, “Last week an editor was seen looking for a popular Muslim face for a political party in Delhi”. Another tweet charged, “Soon after the Assembly results, an editor gleefully forgot his professional conduct while taking credit for bringing up AAP”. A third tweet declared, “Editors are helping political parties identify candidates for the Lok Sabha elections. Is this part of their job?”. Khera refused to disclose names of these editors. Incidentally, AAP has approached a well-known editor to be in charge of its unit in Maharashtra. The editor has so far declined, though the post comes with the offer of a ticket from the Mumbai South parliamentary constituency.

Extended tenure

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When former law minister Ashwani Kumar was appointed special envoy for Japan, the media joked that Kumar had a seven-day mandate since he was allowed to make trips for those many days to Japan in the run-up to the recent visit of the Japan Emperor and Empress to India. But it turns out that Kumar’s stint as special envoy is longer. His appointment letter, which gives him the status of Cabinet minister, stated that he would prepare for the visit of the royals, as well as the prime minister of Japan. The government has chosen PM Shinzo Abe to be chief guest at the Republic Day function. So Kumar, to the MEA’s annoyance, continues in his post a while longer.

Buta back

Rahul Gandhi’s warning that defectors be kept out of the party seems to have been ignored again. Followers of the 79-year-old veteran Congressman Buta Singh claim he is back in the Congress. They also assert that he is being utilised by the party for backchannel negotiations with Mayawati and Jayalalithaa. Singh was expelled for six years after he contested as an Independent during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections from Rajasthan, against an official Congress candidate. Before this, he had to resign as governor of Bihar after a court  rap. There were numerous complaints during his tenure as head of the SC/ST Commission. Singh may have a Dalit bond with Mayawati, but Congresspersons are still scratching their heads to figure out what his special equation with Jayalalithaa is.

Women power

Jayalalithaa  is not the only woman leader with prime ministerial  aspirations. Parliamentary elections next year will witness a keen competition between the AIADMK supremo and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee to see who wins more Lok Sabha seats — determining who has a shot at heading the Third Front. Mamata’s supporters feel she has a head start since Tamil Nadu has 39 Lok Sabha seats and West Bengal 42. Besides, Mamata plans to field candidates in around 100 constituencies, including Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam, Orissa and Bihar. According to Mamata confidant K D Singh, the TMC could even fight elections in Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, besides all the 10 constituencies in Haryana. Actually Mamata’s main rival may not be Jayalalithaa but Mayawati.