Standing by her man
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When Manmohan Singh took over as Prime Minister, a journalist asked his wife, Gursharan Kaur, what were her expectations from her husband as head of government. Kaur said she would be concerned if the price of a gas cylinder was raised. The PM's wife has now changed her view and recently remarked that she, nor any other homemaker, would be in favour of a hike in LPG but she understood the compulsions of the government.
Pushing away the envelope
Supreme Court justices and other senior members of the legal fraternity are accustomed to formal invitations with elegant lettering and crisp envelopes. But Rashtrapati Bhavan, in a bid to be ecologically friendly and techno-savvy, decided to send out invitations for the swearing-in ceremony of the new chief justice, Altamas Kabir, through e-mail to save paper. But the legal fraternity did not appreciate the green gesture and requested Rashtrapati Bhavan to dispatch the traditional invitation cards as well. The President's Office has started the practice of e-mail invites for most functions. The guest is expected to bring a print-out of the invitation with a bar code which can be identified by the security guards.
Bugged with his room
Arjun Modhwadia, Gujarat PCC president, staged a protest at Gujarat Bhavan in Delhi's Chanakyapuri against the "discriminatory attitude" of the state resident commissioner. Modhwadia is peeved because he is not eligible for a suite at the Bhavan. Suites are reserved for CMs, ex-CMs, Leader of Opposition and judges. Modhwadia is also convinced that the Bhavan staff insist on allotting him room number 14 because it is bugged. When the Bhavan's staff refused to change his room, Modhwadia in protest slept on a sofa in the waiting room and used the common washroom. Another complaint of the PCC chief is that he is not allowed to meet the media in the Bhavan on what he thinks is a specious ground that political activity is not permitted within
In the drafting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's recent broadcast to the nation, where he defended his new set of economic reforms, a former media adviser seems to have played a bigger role than the incumbent, Pankaj Pachauri. In fact, many see the hand of both senior journalist Sanjaya Baru and Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia in the text, especially the references to SUV vehicles, the PM's role in saving the economy from bankruptcy in 1991 and the comment that money does not grow on trees.
September has been a lucky month for C P Joshi. He was allotted the prestigious Railway portfolio and his loss in the assembly election from Nathwara constituency in 2008 was set aside by the Rajasthan High Court. Joshi had made it to the record books by losing the election by a single vote. He was particularly upset since his mother and wife did not even bother to vote. However, the court has now held that his BJP rival Kalyan Singh won because his wife Kalpana Kanwar had voted twice.
Made a scapegoat
IAS officer Vishwapati Trivedi was transferred overnight as Secretary, Mining, reportedly because he presented the Shah Commission report on the Goa mining allotments to Parliament without first placing it before the Union Cabinet. Trivedi, who has been shunted out to the Inland Waterways Authority, is reportedly being made a scapegoat for his minister Dinsha Patel who took the call. Patel, who feels he has a chance to be the Congress nominee as Gujarat Chief Minister, did not want to get into a controversy before the Gujarat elections. The Shah report is damaging because the prime minister held the mining portfolio during a period when some allotments were made. Besides, two former Congress Goa chief ministers are named in the report. Incidentally, Patel was kept in the dark about both Trivedi's transfer and the appointment of his successor.
Food Minister K V Thomas was missing from the Cabinet meeting which was to discuss a hike in sugar prices in the PDS, a proposal backed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar. Since Thomas was away in Hyderabad, the decision on sugar had to be postponed. Some wondered whether Thomas's absence from Delhi was deliberate. Congress ministers from Kerala realise there is little support for economic reforms in their home state. In fact, A K Antony and Vayalar Ravi stayed away from Kerala for several days after the decision on FDI in retail was taken.
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