Off the Record

Off the Record

Wheel power

More than two decades after he was arrested in Bihar, while taking out his Ram Rath Yatra, the BJP patriarch LK Advani will embark on yet another nationwide rath yatra. The only difference will be that instead of the Ram temple, he will harp on weeding out corruption this time.

The last time, when he was crossing through Bihar, Lalu was the chief minister. Now, Advani’s NDA alliance leader Nitish Kumar is at the helm. For the record, it was Lalu, who, on October 23, 1990, had ordered the arrest of Advani and his party colleague Pramod Mahajan on the plea that the rath yatra could lead to communal disharmony in the state.
But 21 years down the line, much water has flown down the Ganga. Today, neither Lalu holds the clout he once wielded nor Advani could arouse the same passion as during the peak Ayodhya movement.

But the JD (U) strongman Nitish is more than willing to welcome the BJP veteran’s rath. Reason: Advani’s anti-corruption plank, which happens to be Nitish’s favourite subject these days. After all, Bihar became the first state to seize the house of a corrupt IAS officer and open a school for poor children.

It was on Nitish’s initiative that public servants, right from the chief minister to class III employees in the state had to declare their moveable and immoveable assets.

“We have waged a war against corrupt officers. And we will support all those who are ready to fight corruption,” said Nitish while reacting to Advani’s proposed rath yatra.
Abhay Kumar, Patna

Weighty issue
Pot-bellied constables of Delhi police are in a bit of sweat these days, not because of the recent bomb blast outside the Delhi High court, but a stern directive from their top brass seeking them to shape up their body or face the consequences.

The department has already launched tests for traffic constables to check their fitness levels. The drive will soon cover all the police stations in Delhi. A senior police officer said that those who are failing the test are being asked to hit the gym to get in shape or pay a “nominal” fine. But this does not end here. Those, who would continue to be in bad shape even after getting fined for it, could be taken off the field and shifted to other departments.

The “unfit” constables will be replaced by “leaner and fitter ones, the official said adding, “we want fit and smart constables.” The gym-and-slim directive may have been issued with good intention but it has turned out to be a nightmare for the constables. “Where do we find time to go to gym after every day’s hard work?. But senior officials would not understand it and come out with harassing orders,” a head constable said.

But, Delhi police is in mood for accepting such excuses. “This is not the first time that the constables have been asked to shape themselves up. But, this time we are really serious. We want fit and smart cops out in the field,” a senior official said.
Prakash Kumar, New Delhi

Soaring high
Declaration of wealth by different ministers in Manmohan Singh’s cabinet has caught the attention of the people who were aghast to find phenomenal jump in the wealth of their representatives in just a few years.

All the parliamentarians also followed suit by declaring their assets with Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariat respectively. Interestingly, as many as seven MPs have not been able to declare their assets till the first week of the month.

As per the information supplied under the RTI Act, of the seven MPs — four are from Indian National Congress, one each from BJP and Bahujan Samaj Party and one independent. Madhu Koda from Jharkhand also finds mention in the list as an independent MP. But his case is different because he has been granted exemption from authorities from declaring his assets as he faced enforcement directorate probe. Remember the news report about him buying some mines in Liberia.

On a specific query put up by RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, the Lok Sabha secretariat said that they cannot take any action against those MPs who fail to disclose their assets except sending some reminders.
Ashish Tripathi, New Delhi

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