Off the record

Off the record

Cracks in the BJP

There is no provision under rules of the Lok Sabha to seek clarifications when a prime minister or a minister makes a statement after a debate. Notwithstanding this, the main opposition BJP was in a belligerent mood to elicit response from prime minister Manmohan Singh on March 18 when he made a statement on the WikiLeaks expose on the cash for vote scam. However, Speaker Meira Kumar in a businesslike manner, ended the issue by not allowing any questions being put to the PM.

Why was the BJP so insistent on getting answers from Singh? Well, there perhaps lies a story. The BJP, or rather the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, is being accused of letting off the prime minister lightly when he responded to the issue of the supreme court rap on the selection of the Central Vigilance Commissioner.

This came a couple of days after Sushma tweeted saying that enough has been said about the CVC and the chapter should be closed. But the BJP in the other House, led by Rajya Sabha Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitely would have none of it. When Singh made the statement in that House, the eminent lawyer put several questions to the prime minister who was forced to answer them (it was another matter that supplementaries were not allowed by the chairman when  the prime minister replied on the cash-for-votes issue).

The divide in the BJP is showing.

B S Arun, New Delhi

Red over red-tape

A workohlic man, unlike his predecessor Lalu Prasad, Nitish was however peeved to find that bureaucrats were not keeping pace with the way he thought or planned. “The speed of light and sound has been calculated. But no body has been able to calculate the speed of thought. Perhaps the officers in Bihar are not able to keep up with my thoughts,” a visibly annoyed Nitish lamented, while speaking at the first foundation day of Aryabhatt University. “Even, at times, I have to face the problem of red-tape, which is a big hurdle in the development of Bihar,” he continued airing his frustration about the sloth babudom.

Nitish’s anger made bureaucrats present there scurrying for cover. But one senior officer, who has worked with eight chief ministers in the last three decades, privately admitted, “Bureaucrats essentially go by the rules framed by the political leaders. They nowadays like to play it safe because they have seen their IAS brethren going to jail years after their retirement for just signing on the dotted lines.”

Whatever may be the excuse, Nitish still offered a last word of advice for the inefficient babus: “Shape up or ship out.”

Abhay Kumar, Patna

WikiLeaks mud this Holi

At a time when the corridors of power has been inundated with mud of the slinging kind, especially after the WikiLeaks expose published by a section of the print media, Holi lacked its usual charm in the Delhi’s political lanes.

Some faces known for their camera-friendly gestures were absent from the scene. The most important among them was former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad. Of course, repeated electoral reverses have defeated his enthusiasm for hosting and participating in the festival of colours.

Although there were some leaders from the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party, who showed some zeal to play with colours, Congress’ Uttar Pradesh stalwart Jagadambika Pal seemed to have enjoyed Holi.

For sure, the WikiLeaks mud played its part in dampning the Holi spirits of an otherwise exuberant Delhi political class. While journalists had a field day writing stories on the US State Department cable leaks, most politicians remained indoors.

Anil Sinha, New Delhi