Off the record

Off the record

Didi’s remote control

Everyone at Rail Bhavan knows that it is West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who takes decisions even though she is no longer at the helm of the ministry. This caused some heartburn aong officials, several of whom are now questioning her extra-Constitutional role.

One senior official lamented that Banerjee’s continuing “tinkering” with decisions is “unique” but the situation is compounded by their inability to have any official communication with her after she took charge of Writer’s Building in Kolkata. Another officer confided that vital decisions like the appointment of a successor to the incumbent Railway Board chairman will be taken by her, though unofficially.

At the same time, however, Banerjee’s overbearing presence in Rail Bhavan has prompted some officers to earnestly organise for her a visit to the ministry when she was in New Delhi last week. Will this loyalty to the former minister help Banerjee’s successor, Minister of State Mukul Roy? Railway ministry officials are clear that Roy should be happy as she is and, in the process, remain an efficient remote control for the Trinamool Congress leader.

Anil Sinha, New Delhi

‘Booked’ in Japan

Maths wizard Anand Kumar has added another feather to his cap. The founder of Super-30 has been featured in a Japanese book as a role model to follow.

Titled Indo No Shougeki (Impact of India) and written by a group of journalists of Japan’s popular TV channel NHK, and priced at 1800 yen, the book says that education played a major role in scripting the success story of India.

Emiko Awagawa of NHK channel, who headed the team of journalists which worked on the book, spent several days in Bihar to study Anand’s initiative. “A Japanese boy Takyuki Doi recently came to meet me and presented me the book. It was a very touching moment when the boy informed me that the book had become quite popular among the students of Japan Management School, and some of them were planning to come to meet me,” said Anand.

The chapter on Anand talks about how the maths wizard, who himself could not go to Cambridge for want of money, was helping several talented students from the underprivileged families qualify in the joint entrance examination for the prestigious IITs.

Abhay Kumar, Patna   

The churning within

The Trinamool Congress camp in the capital is getting more and more edgy with each passing day. With party supremo Mamata Banerjee making it explicit that the Trinamool Congress would not relieve the influential Railway minister’s post, many second-rung party leaders are eyeing for it. Mamata’s evasiveness during her visit to New Delhi last week had stoked their ambitions.

The mercurial party chief did not make it clear whether her nominee Mukul Roy who is holding the dual portfolio of the minister of state for shipping as well as railways, would be elevated or a new face would be brought in. If Mamata decided to exercise the second option then the chances of seasoned Delhi-based leaders like Dinesh Trivedi and Sudip Bandopadhayay are bright. But Mukul being a trusted lieutenant of Didi for years, his elevation to the Railway minister’s post has also not been ruled out.

The grapevine has it that Didi is reorganising her party structure to relieve Roy some of his organisational responsibilities so that he could spare more time as an important Central minister. Either way a decision is expected in July as the budget-making exercise for the new railway minister starts from September-October.

Kalyan Ray, New Delhi

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