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Off the record

Union Rural Development Minister C.P. Joshi has ensured that people from his home state Rajasthan reap the benefits of his ministry’s welfare schemes

india Updated: Feb 22, 2010 23:09 IST

Homing in on benefits

Union Rural Development Minister C.P. Joshi has ensured that people from his home state Rajasthan reap the benefits of his ministry’s welfare schemes. So, every second day he is in the state either to address a workshop or launch a development programme. This prompted an official to remark that the ministry should have one more office in Bhilwara or Udaipur or Jaipur. Is the minister listening?

Tharoor’s zoo story

Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor is not known for his love for elephants. But as an MP from Thiruvananthapuram he has pitched for Maheshwari, an elephant living in a zoo in the Kerala capital since 1946. In a letter addressed to Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh, he said Maheshwari should be kept in the “comforting environs”. The intervention came in the wake of the Centre’s decision to take elephants out of zoo enclosures and keep them in the “facilities” of the forest department. Maheswari needs medical attention, Tharoor wrote.

An unequal music

Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal’s interest in amending the Copyright Act to enable musicians to get a share of the royalty seems to have come from personal experience. Sibal recently admitted to having helped shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan when the latter was undergoing a bad financial phase. He said that while Khan’s work was used widely, the maestro didn’t get any share of the royalty and spent his life in penury.

Say cottage cheese

The Group of Ministers for the Commonwealth Games headed by Union Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy has been meeting almost every fortnight as the sporting extravaganza draws near. Top bureaucrats who have to attend the meetings regularly have decided to go “healthy.” Following this samosas and pakodas have now been replaced with the healthy paneer tikka at these meetings.

Intelligence of humour

During the debate on whether greater political control was necessary to improve the functioning of intelligence agencies, Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi had the audience in splits with some of his comments on the Intelligence Bureau. Sample these: “If the IB archives were opened, we’re sure to find initial reports which describe the RSS as a peaceful cultural organisation.” “Whenever anyone asks me for a reference to try for a Rajya Sabha ticket, I tell him, make friends with any IB officer, and get him to send a favourable report about you to the Centre… you are sure to get the ticket.”

Didi’s railing and ranting

If there is one individual who can take on the maverick Mamata Banerjee, it’s Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. At a recent cabinet meeting, Mukherjee bluntly told the Railways Minister that if she was unwilling to hike passenger fares to raise revenues internally, he was equally unwilling to open the purse strings for special railways projects. After much raving and ranting Banerjee finally managed to secure clearance for ten of the 24 proposals on her list, out of which 14 concerned West Bengal.