Looking for the big breaks
The top brass of the civil aviation ministry was in full attendance to welcome the new aviation minister Ajit Singh. As Singh entered the ministry, photographers requested him to pose behind a miniature replica of an Air India aircraft in the ground floor lobby. As Singh stepped over the cordon and obliged, photographers urged a senior bureaucrat to stand beside the minister while they took photographs. Crossing the cordon, the bureaucrat stumbled over and fell face-down on the floor breaking a few flower pots in the process. Comforting the bureaucrat, Singh later told officials that the breaking of flower pots was a good omen. Let us hope that the airline's broken financial condition will be set right.
Courting a bit of controversy
There is a certain degree of unease in the Central Bureau Investigation (CBI) over the proposed lokpal body. The government has not heeded to the major demands of the investigative agency while drafting a new Bill. The only positive outcome was thought to be the enhancement of the level of the selection committee for the CBI director. The new selection panel will consist of the prime minister, the leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the chief justice of India (CJI). But CBI officials feel that the inclusion of the CJI in the selection panel is also a problem area. Suppose, according to an opinion offered by one CBI officer, the appointment of a CBI director is challenged in the Supreme Court. With the CJI in the selection panel for the director, the neutrality of the apex court will become an issue. Well, the jury will be out on this one for a while.
No rest and recreation for them
There has been an unintended casualty in Team Anna's winter session deadline for the lokpal law. As the government and Opposition kept on debating how long and when Parliament should meet to consider the anti-graft legislation, ministers and MPs were also at the receiving end back home. "Yes, yes… This is final," one minister was heard saying over the phone, as soon as the government finalised the three-day debate. "That was my son," he said. "He was worried that the debate will cost him the vacation," the minister explained, pointing out that many of his colleagues too have had to cut short their vacations. Not exactly the best way to go in the holiday season.
Up too close and personal
It isn't very clear why the Special Protection Group (SPG) officer — that provides proximate security to the prime minister — went overboard and "misbehaved" with BSP MP Bali Ram in Parliament's corridors. The MP protested in Parliament, complaining that he was pushed. It seems the officer snatched the phone from the MP and flung it away. Officials said the officer concerned had been taken to task for the misdemeanour and was moved to a different wing. Close encounters of a worrying kind here.
He seems to fit the bill
Guess who is the object of envy among his colleagues these days? It is minister of state for personnel V Narayanasamy who will pilot the government's anti-graft legislative business. The Lokpal Bill will be the 64-year-old minister's first attempt at piloting a key legislation after he became a minister three years ago. This time, there is no risk of his ministerial colleagues overshadowing him as often happens at joint press conferences that he has held on the lokpal. In fact, the last Cabinet meeting that cleared the final draft of the new Lokpal Bill saw Narayansamy holding forth for the first 15 minutes, explaining the details of the changes that had been finalised. "The Lokpal Bill seems to have done wonders for his profile," a Cabinet minister later remarked, with an envious glint in his eyes. Clearly, a hard act to follow.
When wit wins the day
"He is the boss," said Congress president Sonia Gandhi, pointing to key UPA troubleshooter Pranab Mukherjee as she came out of an emergency meeting of the Congress core committee. The group had met to deliberate on RJD chief Lalu Prasad's demand for including minorities in both the lokpal bench and the search committee. The meeting decided to bring back the provision in order to avoid any confrontation with Lalu who had by now secured the support of the SP, the BSP and the JD(U). Once his demand was accepted, there was no stopping Lalu. Using his famous humour he spoke against rushing the Bill through and took a few potshots at Anna Hazare much to the delight of the gathering. Laughter is the best medicine.