off the record

Seeking wisdom

Although Pranab Mukherjee has kept away from the Congress’ internal decision making ever since he moved into the Rashtrapati Bhavan, senior Congress leaders have not desisted from seeking his wisdom when confronted with a political muddle. The latest occasion appears to be on whether the government should go ahead with the appointment of a judge for the Snoopgate probe against BJP prime minister candidate Narendra Modi. 

Despite being under pressure from his colleagues P Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde was not too sure on the issue. So Shinde turned to Mukherjee for advice even as other ministers were keen to appear to be backing Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra, who had raked up the issue of alleged surveillance by Gujarat police on a woman architect in 2009, during their rallies. 

Mukherjee apparently told Shinde against the probe as the last phase of polling was only left and the UPA was on its last stage. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too was of the same view. Once their views were known, the Congress leadership decided to give up. Sibal was told to inform the media that the government had changed its mind in ‘deference’ to the allies like Sharad Pawar’s NCP and Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference.

Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi

Damp squib

Each time Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil convinced his senior party colleagues that he has stumbled upon ‘something’ to fix Narendra Modi, the party has gone a spin only to realise that his ammunition is often a damp squib. 

Last week, Gohil told them that Modi’s caste -- Modh Ghanchis(oil millers)  --was not an originally backward caste and it was given the OBC status only after he became Gujarat chief minister in 2002. He even produced a Gujarat government circular dated January 1, 2002 to claim Modi ‘manipulated’ records to bring his caste into the OBC list. The Congress decided to go town with it. 

But, in no time, a livid Modi got his finance minister Nitin Patel to dig into documents and come out with a rebuttal. Much to the embarrassment of the AICC, Patel disclosed that the Baxi Commission had included the community in the 1990s in Gujarat’s OBC list. 

In 1994, then chief minister Chabildas Mehta had issued a government order in this regard. The Government of India included the caste in the central list in September 2001, a month before Modi became CM. In January 2002, the Gujarat social and justice department issued a revised central OBC list including the caste following New Delhi’s decision. Irony was that Gohil was a minister in the Mehta government in 1994 and had no clue about it!

S I, New Delhi

Set for a redo

The Chief Minister’s office in Gujarat is all set for a redo. And if anyone is happy with the developments at Gandhinagar, it is the local journalists. If one need to meet anyone in the CM office, apart from the prior appointment, there is a necessity that the name of the appointee be registered at the entrance; if the name do not figure in the register, permission for entering the premise would be denied even for journalists. 

Local journalists are however elated that if Modi actually proceeds to Delhi, it will no longer be a difficult proposition to visit the CMO and the secretariat on a regular basis. Journalists say whoever would be the next CM of the state, they will no longer face the security threats that Modi does hence reporting events from the state capital would become easier.

Swati Bhan, Ahmedabad

Index of mind!

In Kashmir, face was recently replaced with finger to decide one’s index of mind. This new mantra: Finger is the index of mind, came into existence exactly a day after polling for Parliamentary elections concluded in north Kashmir’s Baramulla constituency.

Some had voted and some didn’t. But some raised eyebrows over others whose forefingers were inked. People travelling in the frontier region were stopped for inspection of their fingers. Those with inked fingers were judged criminals by roadside Kangaroo Courts in Baramulla and Sopore towns. Punishment from the separatist-minded quarters was instant and much before public for the ones baptized. They were beaten to pulp and clothes torn till their skin turned blue as if it had to be of the same shade of forefinger mark: Mera Wala Blue!

The blue on finger brought polling blues for people who voted. Right to vote or not is primarily decided by one’s mind, but they attributed it to fingers.

Zulfikar Majid, Srinagar

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