Limited Attendance

The ceremony to launch the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda on Saturday was relatively poorly attended despite the fact that Rashtrapati Bhawan was playing the host. A number of seats remained unfilled in the hall that has a capacity to accommodate about 400 people. What was worse, some of the front row seats were left unoccupied as well, leaving President Pranab Mukherjee visibly annoyed. The Culture Ministry had obviously not put in enough effort this time, leading to some embarrassment for the President. Incidentally, the same ministry had organised similar functions for Rabindranath Tagore and Madan Mohan Malviya in recent times with much greater success. Both those functions were held in Vigyan Bhawan, which can accommodate more than 1,000 guests, and on both the occasions the hall was full. On Saturday, it fell on President Mukherjee himself to tide over the disappointment with a stirring extempore speech on Vivekananda lasting for over 20 minutes. After becoming President, Mukherjee has generally stuck to scripted speeches on formal occasions but on Vivekananda, he did not need any support of his staff.

Status Quotient

THE Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan, the swanky new building for the Ministry of External Affairs just down the road from Raisina Hill, remains mostly unoccupied in the new year with most senior officers still reluctant to move out of South Block. The standard refrain is that the new building is still not completely functional to become the headquarters of the ministry, but many concede that there are psychological reasons as well for officers sticking to their current offices in South Block. Having one's office on Raisina Hill undoubtedly is a big status symbol in Delhi's power corridors.

Seeking Entry

VEENA Singh, the daughter of the late Arjun Singh, who had unsuccessfully contested as an independent candidate from Sidhi Lok Sabha seat in 2009 after being denied ticket by the Congress, is knocking on the party's doors to gain an entry. Veena Singh's brother, CLP leader in Madhya Pradesh Assembly who along with his father had campaigned against her in Sidhi, has given a go ahead to the party leadership to open the party's doors to her. The Congress high command is, however, yet to take a final call. Meanwhile, Veena's husband B P Singh, who remained in the Congress even after his wife's rebellion, is said to be aspiring for the party ticket for Singrauli Assembly constituency.

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