off the record

Gift for home state

Union Road Transport and Railway Minister C P Joshi, who resigned from the posts after being deputed for party work, has not forgotten to gift a few projects to his home state and constituency in particular before relinquishing office and preparing his ground for election. 

According to sources, Joshi sanctioned broad gauge railway tracks connecting the holy city of Nathdwara.

Nathdwara is famous for Srinathji temple, which houses the idol of seven-year-old infant incarnation of Lord Krishna. The idol was believed to be shifted from Mathura to Nathdwara in 17th century. Since then, devotees from different parts of the country travel to Nathdwara. The devotees, however, face problems because it still does not have a railway station. The nearest station is Mandiana which is 11 km away.

A primary alignment has been identified to connect the temple town and a detailed survey would soon be undertaken to lay the broad gauge line here. 

It was the Nathdwara Assembly constituency from where Joshi lost the election in 2008 by a single vote. He was later elected from the neighbouring Bhilwara Lok Sabha seat in the 2009 parliamentary elections. In the rail budget this year, a coach factory with an investment of Rs 800 crore was announced for Bhilwara. The railway ministry has decided to introduce a Shatabdi-like train on the route so that people from Udaipur can come to Jaipur and return the same day, according to the sources.

The gauge conversion between Dholpur and Sarmathura via Karauli has been extended to Gangapur city in Sawai Madhopur district. Joshi had sanctioned Rs 212.23 crore for conversion of this 62 km-long narrow gauge line into a broad gauge.

P J Joychen, Jaipur

Compliments without thrill

If we go by the latest trends in the political circles, it would be clear that senior leader L K Advani is on the verge of losing his battle against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The walking away of Nitish Kumar from the NDA has hardly changed the mood in the BJP. Party insiders say that there would not be any going back on the decision to project Modi to lead the party. Advani may have limited say. 

Almost sidelined within the party, Advani has suddenly gained remarkable popularity among estranged NDA partners- Ntish Kumar and Sharad Yadav are swearing by his secular credentials.

“ After his statement that Jinnah was secular, we do not consider him an advocate of Hindutva. The RSS sidelined him at once,” says an intellectual close to the RSS. But, will this perception of his being a secular leader help him in his party? Answer seems to be a clear ‘no’. Modi’s ascendance simply means the BJP does not require a secular to leader.
 Anil Sinha, New Delhi

Flood of miseriesOf all the 600 people from Bihar who were trapped in torrential rains and flash-flood in Kedarnath, one of them was senior BJP leader Ashwani Choubey, who, till June 15, was health minister in the Nitish cabinet.

But on a day when he was unceremoniously dropped from the ministry (on June 16), he, along with nine members of his family, three security guards, a family priest and an aide, was on a pilgrimage trip to Kedarnath. Shortly after the news of removal of his and 10 other BJP colleagues from the Nitish government was flashed, Choubey and his kin were trapped in the flash flood in Kedarnath. “It was raining so heavily that water entered the temple, bringing in heavy boulders with it. Many people hit by boulders and died instantly, while many drowned,” said Choubey’s son Aviral Saswat. Among those dead were Choubey’s sister-in-law Sangeeta Mishra and her husband Subodh Mishra, a well-known journalist.

The BJP president, who was then in Uttarakhand taking stock of the disaster, brought back Choubey and his son to Delhi in his chopper. But in Delhi, too, Choubey got another shock when Bihar Niwas officials reportedly refused to provide him vehicle as he was no more a minister. The BJP then arranged a private vehicle and got the former health minister admitted to a private hospital.

Bihar BJP leaders expressed shock over Nitish’s insensitive attitude towards Choubey and asked the JD-U strongman to take a leaf from Narendra Modi, who flew down to Uttarakhand and managed to bring 15,000 stranded Gujarati pilgrims home.

Abhay Kumar, Patna  

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