The issue of price rise stalled proceedings in Parliament all of last week. The Congress worked overtime to woo non-NDA parties as the united Opposition moved an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha on the issue. Congress managers worked tirelessly on the RJD, the SP and the BSP and were often seen engaged in discussions with leaders of these parties. After much persuasion, Lalu Prasad and Mulayam Singh Yadav agreed to come to the government’s rescue. While they were adamant on the adjournment motion, the Yadav duo assured Congress managers that they would walk out at the time of voting on the motion. But the ruling party seemed wary of trusting its one-time allies.
Gadkari has a dream
BJP chief Nitin Gadkari doesn’t mind soliciting ideas from non-party leaders for his mission to rebuild the party. He has set up a study group to prepare a vision document namely “India Vision 2025” with independent Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar as its convener. The document is supposed to delineate the contours of the BJP’s vision for national development in all its dimensions. In all, 50 subjects will be covered. Gadkari has asked industrialist Rajesh Shah, who is a BJP member, to be the joint convener.
Favours not in favour
Till over a year ago, the office of the minister for human resource development — then under Arjun Singh — spent much of its time filtering requests for admissions to various schools and colleges. Requests that came with recommendations from powerful politicians or close aides would be treated favourably, and a note sent to the institution where admission was sought. Today, however, a staunch refusal from the minister’s office is the only reply to such sifarish seekers. The HRD minister has told his officials not to entertain any requests for admissions to any institutions. The HRD ministry cannot claim to be trying to establish clean and fair educational practices if it does not stay away from influencing admissions, the minister is understood to have argued.
It pays to have priorities
Keeping the finance minister is good spirits is a good idea, when you want money for projects — and the human resource development (HRD) ministry is mastering the art. The ministry follows an unwritten rule to prioritise Pranab Mukherjee’s requests and officers are often seen scurrying to respond to letters from the finance minister. Most requests received from Mukherjee pertain to West Bengal, his home state. But the HRD ministry is only too happy to accord special status to Mukherjee — as it desperately seeks funds for an unprecedented expansion in education. The approach may be working too — the finance ministry last week agreed to substantially increase the central funding share for the landmark right to education law, a hike that means the Centre will pay about Rs 90,000 crore more than earlier planned over the next five years.
Additions and additionals
Bringing more cheer to the bureaucracy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has finally given the green signal for the promotion of 43 officers of the 1980 IAS batch as additional secretaries. With the batch strength being 108, the names of 63
officials were empanelled. Of them, 43 were approved by the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) headed by P. Shankar. The EPG made the task of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet easier as it went through the performances of the 1980 batch. The promoted officials will, however, have to wait for the Cabinet Secretariat to begin fresh postings from November 2010. A few days ago, the PM had approved the 1977 batch to be posted as secretaries.