Nandan Nilekani’s appointment as head of the Universal Identity card (UID) project with Cabinet rank surprised many. The sudden entry of an outsider into a top bureaucratic position also threw into a tailspin the calculations of many a babu. Orissa cadre IAS officer of the 1972 batch Dr Subhas Pani, formerly secretary, Planning Commission, was eyeing the post of UID chief and had to look for an alternative. He found one — as director general of India Trade Promotion Organisation. But that left Sudhakar Rao, chief secretary of Karnataka in the lurch. He was planning to shift to Delhi as Central Administrative Tribunal chief and join his wife Nirupama Rao who has returned to Delhi as foreign secretary.
Not cowed down by it all
If Shashi Tharoor has been tweeting about ‘holy cows’ and ‘cattle class’, NDA acting convenor and JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav has decided to take the debate to the next level. From cows, it’s about bulls now, with a formal mention of a well-known unparliamentary term, literally meaning bull’s faeces. Lambasting the government over its much-touted austerity drive, Yadav has said in — hold your breath — a signed statement: “The Congress party and the UPA government’s austerity drive is nothing but a joke, bull-$#%# and it has succeeded in making a mockery of the meaning of austerity.” The JD(U) uses the exact slang, and not this censored version. Truly, the debate seems to have plunged to a new low even on the record.
He’s changed his mind, again
Arun Shourie has been expressing his opinion on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi frequently and it changes every time! He had called for Modi’s sacking during the 2002 riots but in the middle of the 2009 general election campaign, he declared that Modi would be a good prime minister, derailing the ‘Advani-for-PM’ campaign the BJP was building up. Recently in an interview he was critical of Modi while narrating the events of 2002. According to the grapevine, Shourie was hoping to get a Rajya Sabha nomination from Gujarat, as his current term is about to end. Apparently, Modi showed no interest.
Joshing around in North Block
The government took safety at the home ministry to new heights this week. It installed two condom-vending machines in toilets at North Block as a part of a Health Ministry drive to promote safe sex awareness among government employees. Bemused ministry officials could be seen carefully studying the instructions on how to use the machines, which will enable each user to get two ‘Josh’ (Enthusiasm) condoms for five rupees.
Ticket to crowd
The Congress headquarters in Delhi these days can easily be mistaken for the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee office. Aspirants, along with their supporters — hundreds in number — descend at the AICC office from neighbouring Haryana every morning in the hope of party tickets for the coming assembly elections in the state. When a senior leader’s attention was drawn to the huge rush, he was quick to respond. “It’s easier to handle even gun-wielding ticket-seekers from Bihar than the unarmed aspirants from Haryana.” His comments, however, did not amuse many present in the room.