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After Rahul Gandhi's elevation as vice-president, there have been question marks over the role and power that Ahmed Patel would exercise in the party. As the political secretary to Sonia Gandhi, Patel was probably the most powerful man in the Congress after his boss. But he himself seems to be aware of the changing realities. After Rahul's recent effort to get all the AICC office-bearers together and ask them to talk to him freely about party's issues, Patel requested Rahul to make this a regular exercise. He told Rahul that the AICC would feel energised if he were to talk to them at least once a month.
SONIA Gandhi is all set to inaugurate a conference of the South Asia Autism Network in the Capital early next week. While this is in keeping with the Health Ministry's renewed emphasis on mental health issues, the involvement of the UPA chairperson apparently is also on account of the fact that Saima Wazed Hossain, daughter of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, is an active participant in the network. Saima runs an NGO that works on the disease. Incidentally, Sonia, along with her daughter Priyanka Gandhi, had attended an autism conference organised by Saima's NGO in Bangladesh in July 2011, which was her last public appearance before she underwent a surgery.
A K Panda, joint secretary in the Health Ministry was the star of the show at a farewell get-together for outgoing Health Secretary P K Pradhan over the weekend. Panda, who recently released his own music album in Oriya, regaled invitees with his rendition of several ghazals sung by Ghulam Ali and others, and doubled up as his own accompanist on a small coffee table.
THE three-member J S Verma Committee, which recently recommended changes in law to ensure stricter punishments for crimes against women, was clearly disappointed that neither Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde nor Home Secretary R K Singh was available to receive the report from it. The committee had to hand over its report to a joint secretary level officer. As if to assuage the hurt feelings, Minister of State for Home R P N Singh, who was out of Delhi when the report was submitted, paid a visit to Verma last week. Singh made his meeting public with a message on Twitter, a micro-blogging website that he has joined only recently. "Visited Justice Verma at his residence today, valuable insight into the way forward regarding his panel's recommendations," he tweeted.