Off the record

Out of respect

Bihar Assembly Marshal B P Sinha was taken aback recently when first-time legislator Manju Kumari touched his feet and sought blessings before entering the Vidhan Sabha. The 29-year-old home-maker-turned-MLA Manju had won the by-election last month from Samastipur and was, therefore, entering the Assembly for the first time when she saw the six-foot-tall chief security officer of the Assembly at the entrance. Immediately, she stooped down and touched the Marshal’s feet.

Hugely embarrassed, the Marshal, who earlier served the Indian Army before joining as security officer of the Assembly, quipped: “Madam, please do not do this. You are not supposed to touch my feet. Please do not embarrass me.”

The newest JD (U) MLA realised her folly but to ease the situation told the media: “I was not aware about it and had no idea whose feet I had to touch...but he is an elderly person and we always seek blessings from elders… so no big deal.”
Abhay Kumar, Patna

In good humour

Erstwhile royal and former Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh, who many talked about as a spent force after the Congress drubbing in the assembly polls last year, is in for a bigger role in the Congress’ organisational structure at the Centre, relaible sources said. AICC President Sonia Gandhi, Capt Amarinder,his better half union minister Preneet Kaur met recently in New Delhi. Capt’s name also cropped up as a likely Governor ahead of the recent announcements of new gubernatorial posts, but Capt Amarinder had said that he is not interested. It is then when he was hinted at a bigger organisational role in New Delhi. The party high command is aware of Capt’s “indispensability” ahead of the general election, which is why the party high command is in a mood to keep him in good humour. 
Gautham Dheer, Chandigarh

Double check

For the regular Income Tax (IT) payers, it may no longer be just file your IT returns and relax. A software programme already being used by the IT Department – called Computer Assisted Scrutiny Selection - will quietly track whether your expenditures “match the income declared in your IT Returns”. The relatively new advanced software has an embedded randomised decision procedure, wherein a six-set criteria tagged to the tax-payers PAN, including credit card swipes, will track the expenditure that the person makes during the year.

“If the PAN-centric expenditure does not match the income declared in your returns”, then it is probably that such a number could come up for scrutiny, disclosed  Parthasarathi Shome, adviser to Union finance minister P Chidambaram, in the course of a lecture he delivered in Chennai at the ‘Madras School of Economics’.
M R Venkatesh, Chennai  

Slippery track

Tracks do not seem to be smooth for rail minister Pawan Kumar Bansal. If he slipped in naming locations during his rail-budget speech last month, he had to face tremendous hostility during his reply to the debate on rail budget. The hostility remained offensive and came from all corners including his party. Senior leaders like Oscar Fernandes also had to register their protest, though, in a mild way. He asked for a direct train from Bangalore to Mangalore, but without any diversion. But such demands, forced the minister to divert his speech more than once and he never could come back on track. “People made allegations that we have committed a theft by increasing the passenger fare. This is not true,”  Bansal lamented in a grim voice. Who can help him  when tracks are themselves slippery?
Anil Sinha, New Delhi

Word war

The quality of debates in the highly stratified and regionalised Andhra Pradesh Assembly has really gone down in recent times. But it all changed on Friday as Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy and Siddipet legislator T Harish Rao, the nephew of Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrasekhar Rao crossed swords, verbally off course over the issue of step-motherly treatment meted out to the Telangana region in terms of sanctioning of schemes and funds.

It all started when Harish said that the state government has started releasing funds for his region only after TRS held the government by its collar. Kiran Kumar Reddy angrily objected to the word “collar” and retorted asking him not to speak like a street-rowdy. “Are you a street-rowdy?  None can threaten me. I won’t cow down before any one. If you feel that the schemes are sanctioned because someone held the government by its collar, I will not hereafter sanction a single penny.  Do whatever you like,” he declared. The verbal duel which was played by almost all the channels in the state.
JBS Umanadh, Hyderabad

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