Better never than late?

Better never than late?
There were more things that happened in heaven and earth, Horatio, this week than all the drama that took place at the
Ramlila Maidan and beyond. Take the plight of our poor Union environment minister. 

Jairam Ramesh missed an important ministerial-level meeting on climate change in Durban, South Africa, because of a two-hour delay in a connecting flight between Delhi and Mumbai. Ramesh was flying in a Kingfisher plane and was scheduled to switch to an Air India Mumbai-Durban flight. Frantic efforts by his office went in vain as most flights to Mumbai were running behind schedule.

Ramesh returned home late at night and deputed special secretary in his ministry JM Mauskar to fill in for him. “Even T3 [Terminal 3] can’t change Indian airports!” he was overheard saying before tearing clumps of his long ‘carefully careless’ hair.

Potaytoes, potahtoes, CM, PM
Compared to the drubbing the Left Front received, this probably doesn’t even count as an embarrassing slip-up. But the newly elected speaker of the West Bengal assembly Biman Bandopadhyay addressed chief minister Mamata Banerjee as the “prime minister”. With some MLAs urging him to correct his statement, Bandopadhyay did so immediately. But Mamata fans think that Biman has set into motion something that could be well worth another ‘paribartan’.

Strong and silent
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi adopted a low profile at the BJP national executive conclave in Lucknow last week. He chose to sit in the last row and exchanged only a few words with other leaders. He went up to the stage only when he was asked to speak on the Communal Violence Bill. One leader who appeared to be avoiding him was Sushma Swaraj, who preferred to stay close to LK Advani. But does this mean anything at all about a party that seems to have been in the news over the last few weeks for the wrong reasons?

Unruly about rural things
The launch of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) in Banswara, Rajasthan, last week saw two senior ministers of the UPA government throw barbs at each other right in the presence of their boss, UPA chair Sonia Gandhi. In an oblique reference to his displeasure over the ambitious self-employment programme being launched from Rajasthan instead of his home state Maharashtra, rural development minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, in his speech, stated that the place “was decided long before and at the insistence of the state”. The man from Rajasthan CP Joshi, under whose tenure as rural minister the NRLM was devised, gave an “unsolicited advice” to his successor: “Let Sonia Gandhi decide the policies and leave their operation to the government.” The National Advisory Council (NAC) recently sent a new set of proposals different from what the rural development ministry under Deshmukh decided in the land bill. Gandhi, who spoke after the two Congressmen, left things hanging in the thick Rajasthan air.

Who’s driving the train?
Trinamool leader Mukul Roy is acting as the minister of state (MoS) for railways. But it’s still unclear whether the party will claim the full Cabinet berth vacated by Mamata Banerjee. The buzz is that a rail minister from Trinamool may deflect attention from Didi. The new formula being floated is to let the prime minister keep the railways portfolio with Roy as the sole MoS running it. In railway terms they may be calling this laying ‘parallel tracks’.


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