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Thus spake the Speaker

india Updated: Feb 15, 2009 22:29 IST

In what may be the last Parliament session of his life, bringing to an end his four-decade-old career as an MP, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee is now speaking his mind on policy issues. Having made his intention to retire clear, he is taking ministers to task for various things. He ticked off law minister H.R. Bhardwaj for having increased the salary of judges through an ordinance. “heavens would not have fallen had you waited for the session to begin,” he quipped. And was unmoved by Bhardwaj’s reply that the judiciary was feeling left out while everybody else had got salary hikes. Now how’s that for a parting shot?

Not quite first past the post

The post of deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is up for grabs, with six contenders in the fray. They are Yogesh Aggarwal of IDBI, T.S. Narayanswamy and A.C. Mahajan of Canara Bank, K.C. Chakravarthy of Punjab National Bank, M.V. Nair of Union Bank and D. Mallya of Bank of Baroda. On the selection panel were Janaki Ballab (Finance Secretary), Arun Ramanathan (Secretary, Department of Financial Services), D. Subbarao (RBI Governor), Rahul Sarin (Secretary, Personnel) and Vepa Kameshan of the Institute of Insurance and Risk Management. Narayanswamy had Ramanathan batting for him. The latter is allegedly close to P. Chidambaram and Chakravarthy to Pranab Mukherjee. Both Narayanswamy and Chakravarthy have made the shortlist, which is pending approval from the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet. We now hear that the RBI guv’s choice was Chakravarthy and, following him, Yogesh Aggarwal. But Aggarwal was replaced by Narayanswamy because of a little pressure from the former finance minister’s quarters.

The caste factor

Elections in Bihar have long been dominated by caste equations, polarising even the bureaucracy. With general elections around the corner, this seems to be weighing heavily on the minds of RJD leaders. So, at the meeting between the Election Commission and political parties, RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh suggested that IAS and IPS officers of a particular caste should not be deployed for election duty in Bihar. He was referring to Kurmis, a numerically significant OBC community to which Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar belongs. Perhaps, the party feels they will ensure JD(U)’s victory in polls.

Restless in Delhi

jagdish tytler is trying to get the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to give him an interim clean chit so that he can stand on a Congress ticket from New Delhi. The CBI believes that the witnesses against him, currently in the US, are not reliable. If Tytler gets a clean chit, Ajay Maken may have to fight harder to ensure that he gets the New Delhi ticket. Both candidates are close to Ahmed Patel. There are already three candidates in the fray for the BJP’s ticket to the same seat. Pioneer’s Editor and Managing Director, Chandan Mitra, currently a Rajya Sabha Member, BJP General Secretary Vijay Goel who wants to shift post delimitation and a senior Indian Foreign Service official. This one looks set to be a fight to the finish.

Read the fine print here

The government is considering appointing law secretary T.K. Viswanathan as the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC). The proposal is believed to have come from Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj. The logic here is that after the current CEC retires and Navin Chawla takes over, there will be two IAS officers in the Election Commission (Chawla and S.Y. Qureshi). So it would be good to have someone with a legal background to complement the team. Well, that’s really going by the book.