off the record


Gujarat-Bihar connection

With every possibility that Narendra Modi could be the NDA prime-ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Bihar BJP leaders are never tired of chanting NaMo mantra and harp on the old association Bihar shares with Gujarat.

This gained momentum after Modi described on how Gujarat-born Gandhiji started his Satyagraha from Champaran in Bihar while Bihar born-JP (late Jaya Prakash Narayan) launched his Sampoorna Kranti against the Congress in 1974 from Gujarat.

Adding more grist to such tales were BJP leaders who cited the case of first President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad, who, they said, could not have become the first citizen of the country had Sardar Patel, the original Lau-purush from Gujarat, not backed him to the hilt.

And in the same breath, they also pointed out that Morarji Desai too could not have become the Prime Minister after Janata Party rode to power in 1977 had JP not backed him amidst growing aspirations of Jagjiwan Ram and Charan Singh.

Amid such Gujarat-Bihar bond, Modi has chosen Desai’s great grandson Madhukeshwar Desai as his key aide and asked him to go to Patna and take stock of the proposed BJP rally there.

A law graduate from National Law College, Bangalore, Madhukeshwar has quit corporate law firm and joined Modi’s team to fight Congress tooth and nail.

Abhay Kumar, Patna

Misuse of official vehicles

Misuse of official vehicles by bureaucrats is a common feature. But the officials of the Uttar Pradesh transport department found themselves in a predicament after they received a complaint about misuse of a red beacon official vehicle by a dog. The complaint said that the huge dog, whose owner is a senior UP bureaucrat, comes for a daily evening walk in the official vehicle fitted with red beacon.

And the complainant is none other than the prominent social activist Dr Nutan Thakur. She shot off a letter to the principal secretary, transport, stating that the dog could be seen taking an evening stroll at Ram Manohar Lohia Park in the state capital. She has also furnished the registration number of the vehicle and claims that it was a violation of the Government Order and demanded stern action against the guilty official. The dog may be spared though.

Sanjay Pandey, Lucknow

DBT forays into social media

The new secretary to the department of biotechnology, K Vijayraghavan, has begun a  trend in the government.

The internationally reputable scientist has launched his own twitter handle, blog and facebook page, not as an individual but as the DBT secretary.
The soft-spoken researcher, who used to head National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, before becoming the DBT secretary uses his blog and twitter handle (handle is @DBTIndia) to disseminate scientific information relevant to India like new research on dengue and rotavirus vaccine.

Vijayraghavan, who took over by January end, took less than two months to make his forays into social media. But so far, he did not share much information on Indian biotech research projects, the industry as well as policy issues like the contentious Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India bill, which is being reviewed by a Parliamentary committee at the moment.

Kalyan Ray, New Delhi

Beni factor

Steel Minster Beni Prasad Verma is in such a  role in which you have to hurl abuses to a person you have not to attack directly. The Congress has such an ambivalent relationship with Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh that it can neither term him a foe, nor a friend.

He supports the UPA government; at the same time is a rival in Uttar Pradesh politics. This ambivalent relationship has led to many distortions and Beni Prasad’s role seems to be part of them.

At least in public, the party wants him not to hit SP leader below the belt as he has done by advising the latter that he should secure a job as a sweeper in the prime minister’s house before aspiring for the top post. The Congress, naturally, tried to show that it wants to discipline him. “The SP Supremo must be feeling the absence of Amar Singh. Had Singh been in the SP, the fight would have become equal,” remarked political observer. 

Anil Sinha, New Delhi

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