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Shinde sidelined as PC addresses media on ordinance

B S Arun, New Delhi, Feb 4, 2013, DHNS

PIB first said home minister will brief but Chidambaram took over

There are indications that Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has been sidelined. Many were convinced that he has been rubbed on the wrong side because it was not Shinde but Finance Minister P Chidambaram – already busy with the budget preparation - who briefed the media on Monday.

He clarified issues relating to the ordinance promulgated on amendments to criminal law and Justice J S Verma committee on the same topic.

The Press Information Bureau, which invites journalists to government press briefings, had first said Shinde will address and changed to Chidambaram later.


Briefing

When questioned about it and the work load he already has as finance minister, Chidambaram said he was addressing in his capacity as chairman of the Group of Ministers on media.

Shinde was in Delhi on Monday but was said to be “busy.”  Shinde’s deputy, minister of state for home RPN also stayed away from the briefing. The prime minister had earlier asked Chidambaram to request Justice Verma to head the panel signifying the government’s continued dependence on Chidambaram, who was entrusted the responsibility of the home ministry from November 2008 (in the wake of 26/11 terrorist attack on Mumbai) till July, 2012.

The absence of Shinde at the press meet comes in the wake of a series of faux pas committed by him in the last few months, the last being his statement on “saffron terror” he made at the Jaipur AICC conclave.

The BJP has decided to boycott him in Parliament to protest against the remarks.
The Shinde-headed home minsitry attracted ire of Justice Verma as the latter said the inputs/comments from the ministry came only after the working hours of the last day of the committee’s term.

Also, neither Shinde nor the home secretary  were available to receive the committee report and it was finally submitted to a joint secretary.

Line of fire

The home minister had also come in the life of fire of the demonstrators who were then protesting against the gang-rape of the 23-year-old woman  as he compared them to the Maoists. Asked why he did not receive representations from protestors, Shinde had said if he had done so, in future Maoists would hold protest and would ask him to receive memorandum.  Shinde had earlier stated that neither Prime Minister Manmohan Singh nor UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi were aware of the hanging of 26/11 terror attack convict Ajmal Kasab and it was said to have not been received well by the Congress leadership.

He later raised several eyebrows when he said public memory was short and scandals like coalgate would be forgotten by the people.

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