While the controversy about making a knowledge of Marathi mandatory for new taxi permit seekers raged on, something possibly devious has gone unnoticed.
The state transport department has decided to renew 4,000 taxi permits every year. That will be 24,000 taxi permits over the next six years. The pre-conditions for new taxi permits — GPS-enabled vehicles, Rs 1 lakh as permit fee , etc — may put the permit well beyond the reach of individual taxi drivers. A company may easily afford these. So who is going to benefit? Now this may be just a coincidence — quite a big one though — but a prominent industrialist is planning to get into the fleet-taxi business.
And was the sudden removal of IAS officer Deepak Kapoor as the Transport Commissioner, barely days before the cabinet decision, also a coincidence?
Time for rewards
The Congress top brass in Delhi is thinking of filling two of the cabinet berths from its share in Maharashtra that the party deliberately kept vacant. The names doing the rounds for these are those of state unit president Manikrao Thakre and city Congress president Kripashankar Singh both lauded for the party performance in areas under their jurisdiction during the Assembly polls. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan thinks it is time to reward the two. The point is, how does Chavan do so when there are at least a dozen Congressmen aspiring for the posts?
Chief Secretary J P Dange has managed to do what none of his predecessors, not even the mighty Johny Joseph, could do. He has got himself a bungalow right in front of Mantralaya as his official residence while many of our mantrijis are struggling to find a suitable ones. The bungalow, A-10, was earlier occupied by, among others, Jayant Patil and the then opposition leaders Chhagan Bhujbal. So far, chief secretaries had to be content with an apartment in one of the government-owned buildings in Malabar Hill.
Dange will now travel the short distance in style. No old-fashioned Ambassador car will do for him. He prefers to have a Honda Accord sedan as his official vehicle. Surely, this is not going down well with some ministers.
Of late, the otherwise astute NCP boss Sharad Pawar has been giving much ammunition to the opposition to target the Union Government by speaking his mind — be it on sugar or milk prices. Pawar may want to learn a lesson or two from his protege, State Home Minister R R Patil, who has learnt to keep the media at bay after his infamous remark on 26/11 cost him his ministry.