Crossing the line
US Ambassador Timothy Roemer's carefree way of mingling with Indian dignitaries is causing discomfiture to protocol-conscious officials. At a reception hosted by Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik on Air Force Day last week, Roemer raised eyebrows when he patted Defence Minister A.K. Antony on the shoulder during the course of a conversation. At an event hosted by the Army chief last year, Roemer had raised hackles when he slipped past SPG personnel to interact with the prime minister. He was later politely asked to move back.
Former Karnataka Chief Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy has been accused of plunging the BJP government in a crisis. Many BJP members claimed that Kumaraswamy was involved in questionable methods to woo dissident MLAs. Some BJP leaders have also raised questions about Congress general secretary in charge of Karnataka and Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad's recent visit to the state. They allege that he was on a ‘secret mission', for which he missed the crucial Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on October 5. Something more important that those boring CWC meetings, it now seems.
A field wide open
The Congress has tried every trick in the book to revive its fortunes in Bihar.
It took a shot at bringing over Vaishali MP from the RJD and former Union Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh to its side by reportedly offering a ticket to his engineer son. Singh refused to bite the bait. The party decided to get back at Singh and roped in his brother Raghupati Prasad Singh, giving a ticket to his relative Mahesh Prasad Rai from Mahnar assembly constituency. Singh has not yet closed the chapter. "Breaking off with the Congress was Lalu's biggest mistake," said the RJD man.
An invitation he couldn't refuse
West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan enjoys a good rapport with bigwigs across the world because of his old job as the National Security Adviser. At the Calcutta University (CU) convocation, as CU Chancellor, Narayanan had invited Bhutan's king Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. The king, who recently declined offers to address his alma maters Cambridge and Harvard universities and had pledged that he would finish travelling across his kingdom before going abroad, obliged and was in Kolkata last week for the event because of Narayanan.
Winning it back
The Indian Foreign Service recently won back a key post in the Finance Ministry from the Indian Administrative Service. Last week, Venu Rajamony, a 1986-batch IFS officer, was appointed as joint secretary (Multilateral Institutions) in the Department of Economic Affairs. The high-profile job includes dealing with the IMF, the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
Tackling with tact
Union Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister Kumari Selja has a problem. As her ministry was giving final touches to projects meant to improve the lot of slum dwellers, several civic
agencies, in a last ditch attempt to beautify New Delhi before the Commonwealth Games, put up massive billboards to hide slum clusters from visitors. When this was pointed out, she replied: "The billboards have been put up as part of the city's beautification drive." Pretty inventive, no?