off the record

Kamal Nath, the manager!

It hardly needs any emphasis that the defeat of the Opposition in Parliamentary battle over FDI will change the course of Indian economy’s future.

But, very few are looking at the structural changes the Congress is undergoing as an aftermath. The changes which may stay at least up to 2014 elections. People in corridors of power are curiously watching emergence of a new manager on the scene-Kamal Nath.

It is not that he was powerless all these years or ignored by the Gandhi family. The family which, till now, has been trying diverse set of people like Rajeev Shukla or of his kinds, in important managerial roles, seemed to have switched over to giving a chance to old loyalists.

Kamal Nath, at least for the time being, has proved the efficacy of old and gold and it is certainly ominous for those who have emerged in recent era of resurgence of Gandhi family. Nath may force many of them to seek other roles as he is known for not relying on team work. He has his own team and does not need outside help, says a senior media person.

“Tough battles are ahead for Opposition too. Arun Jaitley, Yashwant Sinha, Sitaram Yechury or D Raja may be trying to impress Parliament and people by their intellectual skill and depth, Kamal Nath will outmanoeuvre them. He does not believe in arguments, he believes in results,” say observers.   
“Here, end justifies the means,” they smile.

Anil Sinha, New Delhi

Cheque mate

It was a triple blow for those whose kin died in the stampede on the occasion of Chhath in Patna.

First, they lost their near and dear ones in the absence of proper medicare by the hospital authorities and indifferent approach of administrative officials.

Secondly, the probe panel reportedly gave a clean chit to the district administration for the tragedy, which only added insult to the injury. Thirdly, to make matters worse, the cheques for Rs 2 lakh each given to the victims’ families as compensation were dishonoured by the banks on the ground that the signature of the Nazarat deputy collector (NDC), Patna, did not match.

One such affected person was Ritlal Das who lost his 13-year-old daughter Suman in the stampede.

After Nitish Kumar announced an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh, which included Rs 1.5 lakh from the Disaster Management and Rs 50,000 from CM’s Relief Fund, to the next of the kin of each deceased, the cheques were issued to the bereaved families. But when Ritlal deposited the cheque in his account in Allahabad Bank, the bank refused to honour it.

The cheque issued by the State Bank of India, main branch, was signed by the NDC, Patna and countersigned by the head clerk of district Nazarat branch. But the bank returned it with a memo that the drawer’s signature differed.

Last heard, the affected persons met the Patna district magistrate and narrated their tale of woes, who assured them of rectifying the mistake at the earliest.

Abhay Kumar, Patna

Power-packed politics

The worst power crisis in over a decade Tamil Nadu has been going through has its seamy political side as well. It is a war of words day in and day out, with the Opposition mounting scathing attacks on the ruling AIADMK for not effectively tackling the power crisis, even as almost all districts barring Greater Chennai, go without power for 14 hours a day.

The Southern India Mills Association in Coimbatore recently put out a staggering figure of nearly Rs 100 crore production loss in the western textile belt due to the unpredictable daily power supply.

The CPM has been feverishly pleading for diesel subsidy from the government so that textile units can run their factories with gen-sets to avert a worse situation, even as the DMK has called for a special party meeting to discuss only the power crisis.  

But Chief Minister, J Jayalalitha, who has put in place a coordinated action plan to resume reasonable power supply by mid-June 2013, took away much of the Opposition’s sting on Saturday. She announed about a fresh package, including slashing ‘VAT’ to 5 per cent on diesel gen-sets to facilitate captive power production by industry.

She also suspects that the Centre is not helping enough in this issue only to keep its ally, the DMK, in good humour in Tamil Nadu!

M R Venkatesh, Chennai

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