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Not even dry humour

Top leaders present at the Congress Working committee meeting last week were surprised by the comments of senior party leader Shivraj Patil on the prevailing drought situation in the country.

india Updated: Aug 24, 2009 23:30 IST

Not even dry humour

Top leaders present at the Congress Working committee meeting last week were surprised by the comments of senior party leader Shivraj Patil on the prevailing drought situation in the country. Patil said the party should look at the positive side of the drought, which will help people in cleaning the lakes and ponds due to the decrease in water level. This, he said, would be good for health and hygiene. Stunned into silence, many leaders were left smiling with their heads down, while others heaved a sigh of relief over the meeting being a closed-door affair.

More passengers on board

The Ministry of External Affairs, among other ministries, has offices scattered across different places in Delhi. But that is not the only reason that Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee has started to nurse territorial expansion plans. With scores of officials having been posted to the Capital as members of various committees over the past years, the Rail Bhawan has become bereft of space. Lately, members of the Human Resources Reforms Committee had to be accommodated at the office of the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation — as no space was available at the Rail Bhawan. Now the Minister is considering plans to construct a Rail Bhawan annexe to accommodate the ever-increasing population at the HQ.

No grass under his feet

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar — currently fretting over the drought — usually maintains a straight face in public — in Parliament, at meetings and even during interactions. However, those who know him, knows of Pawar’s sense of humour, which he unleashes when least expected. And levity often comes in handy. Asked by a reporter if India’s winter crop could also fail due to poor rains, Pawar exclaimed: “Shubh shubh bolo (don’t portend evil)”. Sensing that reporters were in no mood to let him go, Pawar quipped: “In these times of swine flu, doctors have told me to avoid crowds, especially crowded press conferences.”

It’s work to rue

The rulebook considered the key to the smooth functioning of a government department is now Prasar Bharati’s biggest bane. Recently, Chief Executive Officer S.B. Lalli sought an explanation from Member (Personnel) V. Shivakumar on why the latter allowed the personal staff of Prasar Bharati board chairman Arun Bhatnagar, and Member (Finance) A.K. Jain to be present at a board meeting. Lalli’s objection is that only he has powers under the Prasar Bharati Act to allow personal staff of any board member to attend such meetings. Till now, his detractors Shivakumar and Jain had been using the rulebook against Lalli to suggest that he was running Prasar Bharati in violation of laid down procedures. With this full circle, it has been proven beyond doubt that the rulebook has stalled smoothing functioning of the board.

Natter over mind

At a conference on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, held to coincide with Rajiv Gandhi’s birth anniversary on May 20, Minister for Rural Development C.P. Joshi had effusive praise for the former Prime Minister and his nurturing of technology for public good. Watched on by Rahul Gandhi, Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani and National Knowledge Commission Chairman Sam Pitroda, Joshi said the coming together of these three individuals was the best tribute to Rajiv Gandhi’s memory. For added measure, Joshi exclaimed, “Pitrodaji aur Nandanji desh ke sabse bade brains hain...” (Pitrodaji and Nandanji are India's biggest brains) drawing embarrassed smiles from everyone on stage, and laughs from the audience.