Replacement for CAG Vinod Rai

Delhi Confidential

With the retirement date of CAG Vinod Rai approaching, speculation has started about the government's choice of his possible successor. Rai has raised the profile of the office so much, and been the genesis of so many of government's troubles, that a lot of thought and considerations are likely to come into play while finding his replacement. While several names have started doing the rounds, one of the first ones being considered seriously is that of Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma who is due to retire in July. Sharma is being considered as the front-runner though it is still early days yet. His predecessor Pradeep Kumar, incidentally, is the current Chief Vigilance Commissioner.

Office Improvement

SHASTRI Bhawan, which houses several ministries, is a noisy place these days due to the non-stop renovation work continuing in one part of the building or the other. The recent Cabinet reshuffle resulted in many new ministers taking possession of rooms in the building and most of them want their offices renovated. Earlier, it was the 'C' Wing from where noise use to emanate as the new office of Kumari Selja, who moved to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, was being revamped. Now the action has shifted to the HRD Ministry, where the offices of Pallam Raju as well as MoS Shashi Tharoor are being redone. A good Rs 20 lakh is said to be cost of renovation of the two offices. The other MoS in the ministry, Jitin Prasada, has not felt the need, because the previous occupant of his room, E Ahamed, had already overhauled it only some time back.

Favoured Nation

VIETNAM seems to be the flavour of the season. Ever since the Vietnamese government has been talking tough on the South China Sea, New Delhi has been rolling out the red carpet for the country's leaders. High-level visits between the two nations are at an all-time high. The Vietnamese Prime Minister was in town last month for the India-ASEAN commemorative summit and was the only head among the ASEAN countries to name China during his speech. Now, the deputy PM of Vietnam is touring the country from Bodh Gaya to Delhi over the next few days. And next week, Vice-President Hamid Ansari will be going on his first visit in his second-term, to Vietnam. In between, Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi made an extended four-day visit to the same country in the first week of the New Year. Apart from conducting important business matters with Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Finance minister P Chidambaram and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, the Vietnamese deputy PM will also participate in the closing ceremony of the 40th anniversary of India-Vietnam diplomatic ties. Ansari, who will go to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, will take part in the closing ceremony in Vietnam. Beijing would surely be keeping a close watch on the newfound bonhomie between Delhi and Hanoi.

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