Off the record

No lobbying

Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who handles Law and Justice, Communications and IT, has decided to follow every word of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's diktat to the ministers.

He has made it clear to the officials that he will not entertain any kind of lobbying, considering that the 2G spectrum scam has left many reputations tattered.

He would meet representatives of the industry only in groups rather than as heads of individual companies.

His instruction to his aides, officials and industry captains is that “the days of influence peddling are over. My job is to ensure that decisions are taken in a fair and transparent manner. You (industry rivals) can fight your battles on your own turf and not inside the government.”

Prasad’s immediate task is to restore the efficiency of the state-run MTNL and BSNL, which he feels were deliberately mismanaged to help some private operators.

Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi

NDA’s “hints”

Both the AIADMK and the Biju Janata Dal are yet to respond to “hints” from Prime Minister Modi’s aides to form a parliamentary group to stake claim for the post of the Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha.

The two parties together make up for 47 MPs, three more than the Congress’ tally of 44 MPs. One suggestion was that these two parties could take turn to be the LoP.

But the AIADMK MPs, barring of course M Thambidurai, are averse to this idea. Thambidurai thinks that any position is welcome as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is not likely to take a decision to join the NDA in the immediate future.

Other AIADMKs MPs would rather await ministerial berths. On the other hand, BJD MPs say the idea is not “workable.” New Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan is supposed to take a call on the LoP issue when Parliament’s budget session begins in the first week of July.

SI, New Delhi

Birthday gift

The much-publicised but much-delayed All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Patna will be formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 25, which incidentally happens to be the birthday of former PM A B Vajpayee.

Vajpayee, as the NDA Prime Minister, had conceptualised the creation of six new AIIMS in the country to provide a better healthcare facilities to the people.

This was announced by Union health minister Harsh Vardhan who was here on a two-day Bihar visit. “I have asked the officials concerned to complete the project by December so that Modiji could hand it over as a birthday gift to the common people,” he said.

Actually, the foundation for AIIMS was laid by the then Health Minister Sushma Swaraj. More than a decade later, it will be a BJP Prime Minister who will formally inaugurate it. But a million dollar question is whether Modi will invite his bete noire Nitish to grace
the occasion?

Abhay Kumar, Patna

‘Topi’ politics

Senior Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan’s anger toward members of the Muslim community for not supporting the Samajwadi Party (SP) unitedly in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections came to the fore at a government function recently when he told the community leaders that they should not offer ‘topi’ (skull cap) to the chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, when the latter comes on the stage to address them.

It was nothing but a ‘dikhawa’ (a mere show), Azam said. “Last time you (leaders) had offered the topi to Akhilesh... do not do it this time,” he told them.

Azam said what mattered was the real support. “Muslim votes were divided and as a result we lost the polls,” he went on to add.

What the senior minister actually meant was though the SP regime had done so much for the Muslim community it did not favour the party in the polls. After all to offer ‘topi’ also means to trick someone into believing something unreal.
Sanjay Pandey, Lucknow

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