Example of youth connect
Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi reaches out to the young Opposition Member of Parliaments with ease. At a recent meeting of the parliamentary consultative committee on the rural development and panchayati raj ministry, there was much bonhomie between the Gandhi scion and the Shiromani Akali Dal’s Lok Sabha member Harsimrat Kaur Badal. Gandhi took the initiative to reach out to Badal. Later, the two were seen talking to each other whenever a panel member raised an issue pertaining to the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, a rural road connectivity scheme.
Looking to get it write
Spearheading an unprecedented expansion in access to schooling also requires more manpower, the HRD ministry has concluded. It will soon induct four new director-rank officers to look after issues related to the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, started last year to universalise secondary education. The expenditure arm of the government has accepted the ministry’s proposal for additional manpower. Officials at the ministry, which is also launching a slew of new higher educational institutions, are struggling to manage their massive workload.
The hurt shocker
BJP chief Nitin Gadkari is upset with senior party leader Murli Manohar Joshi for publicly upbraiding him for his remarks on Parliament attack convict Mohammed Afzal Guru. On learning that Joshi told the media that Gadkari could have chosen better words to convey the party’s line, the BJP chief promptly conveyed that matter to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who assured Gadkari that he would convey his “hurt” feelings to Joshi.
No pace with space
The space-constrained Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan, which houses the Ministry of Civil Aviation, has finally got some breathing space. Senior ministry officials were relieved when officials of the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) finally moved out of the building to a new office. Till now, senior officials managed with much smaller rooms compared to other ministries. Such was the space crunch in the ministry that newly-transferred officials had to share rooms with colleagues they had known from previous postings.
He's a star performer
Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal has made friends not just within the education community, but also brought a bit of Bollywood to the ministry. It started with Aamir Khan, whom he congratulated on 3 Idiots. Sibal also convinced the actor to return to a copyright panel after Khan quit following a dispute with co-member Javed Akhtar. Actress Gul Panag of Dor fame dropped in to meet the minister last week at his Shastri Bhawan office. Sibal also rubbed shoulders with director Subhash Ghai during the launch of a CBSE course on mass media recently. As one officer remarked jocularly, Sibal has truly “reformed” the ministry from its dour days under Arjun Singh.
Chat before the spat
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao enjoy a good chemistry so much so that they do not hesitate to break into Kannada. The joke doing the rounds is that Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s ranting about Krishna making frequent phone calls may be more to do with their Kannada chats, which may have left him clueless. Rao, who is married to former Karnataka Chief Secretary Ratnakar Rao, hails from Kerala. But her working knowledge of Kannada following her marriage has impressed Krishna.
His palate’s not full
Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan is foxed by the attitude of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu who resorted to a hunger strike after seeking permission to visit the Babli irrigation project. Chavan thought Naidu, like all political leaders, would stage a symbolic protest by attempting to enter Maharashtra and then return after he was arrested. Instead, Naidu resorted to a hunger strike, complicating matters for Chavan who called up his Andhra counterpart,
K. Rosiah. TDP insiders say Naidu’s decision has more to do with his dislike for Maharashtrian food while in police custody. He prefers his hot Andhra food, which may be the answer to end the impasse.
Friend by another name
Veteran Congress leader and former Union Minister Makhan Lal Fotedar frequents the party headquarters these days and makes it a point to meet All India Congress Committee Treasurer Motilal Vora every time. The other day, while talking to some people, Fotedar suddenly looked at Vora and repeatedly called him “Khannaji”. Obviously there was no response from Vora. This prompted the gathering to remind Fotedar that it’s Voraji. Fotedar immediately corrected himself and then went on to reiterate his deep bond with Vora.