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Despite the public outcry for better policing in the Capital in the wake of the gang rape, the home ministry has still to fill numerous vacancies at the senior levels of the Delhi Police. For instance, out of a total of 20 IG-level posts, there are eight slots vacant in Delhi. Ironically, senior police officers from the Union Territory cadre are being posted most whimsically in smaller regions with a fraction of the population such as Chandigarh, Puducherry, Arunachal Pradesh, the Andamans, Mizoram and Goa, although there is no functional requirement for these senior-level appointments. For instance, in both the Andamans and Mizoram, there are two IG-level posts when there is a requirement for only one. Five IGs have been transferred to Arunachal, when there are only two posts to fill. Venkiah Naidu, chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on home affairs, asked the home ministry to provide a list of vacancies in the posts of DCPs, additional CPs and joint CPs in Delhi. The home ministry promised to get back with the information at "the earliest." This did not satisfy Naidu who asked the ministry to be more specific about the time frame.
The BCCI is unhappy with the Pakistani delegation which accompanied its country's team for the recent bilateral cricket series in India. The Pakistanis have yet to pay for the 1,000 tickets they requested from the BCCI to distribute among Pakistani fans. (The tickets were in addition to the large number of complimentary passes that were provided to the Pakistanis.) The Pakistani visitors had many complaints. They wanted gas heaters installed in the VIP boxes at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium and were unhappy to learn that this was not possible because it was a fire hazard. Elaichi tea and cushions on the plastic seats were some of their other demands.
The BJP is sharply divided over the move to revoke Ram Jethmalani's suspension. Members of the parliamentary board, particularly Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, are strongly opposed to his reinstatement since they feel that he is a wild card who acts with impunity against party discipline. Jethmalani publicly termed both Swaraj and Jaitley Congress agents because he disagreed with their views on the appointment of the new CBI director. Last year Jethmalani had demanded Nitin Gadkari's resignation after disclosures about his business affairs, but the BJP president is now backing Jethmalani. Gadkari wants to buy peace with Advani, who is a well-wisher of Jethmalani. Advani has indicated that he may withdraw his opposition to Gadkari getting a second term as BJP president if Gadkari supports Jethmalani. Another powerful ally in the Jethmalani camp is Narendra Modi who had helped him secure his Rajya Sabha seat. Modi feels he may need the services of the eminent criminal lawyer at some point.
The timing of the eighth South Asia Free Media Association (Safma), an organisation aimed at promoting regional peace and open borders in the neighbourhood, was not very propitious. In the middle of the two-day conference, which started in Amritsar and ended in Lahore, there was a bitter confrontation between India and Pakistan over the beheading of an Indian soldier at the LoC. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, who was the chief guest at Amritsar, compared the members of Safma to the children of a feuding couple who were trying to bring about a rapprochement. In Amritsar, Khurshid was asked by the Pakistani media about the killing of a Pakistani soldier at the border. Khurshid said one should not allow a single incident to cloud the entire peace process. But when news broke of the barbaric killing of an Indian soldier two days later, he changed his tune.
Shading the light
Inaugurating the Safma meet at Amritsar, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid marvelled at the perfect combination of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's name. There was a mixture of both light and shade, he pointed out. Unfortunately, the lights in the Indian CM's domain went off twice during the function because of a power breakdown, even the sun was missing on the cold winter's day. Pakistan's Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had similar bad luck. There was a power breakdown at the Safma function in Lahore as well.