Off the record

Jaitley, PM’s confidant

There was never a doubt about Prime Minister Narendra Modi having trust in the abilities of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to track down black money. But a relentless campaign by senior Supreme Court lawyer and former BJP leader Ram Jethmalani and Subramanian Swamy on the issue of black money had given the impression that the PM could be in two minds soon about the finance ministry being up to the mark under Jaitley’s control. Keen to set the record straight, Modi thought it was best to place on record what he thought of Jaitley in this regard.

A day before Jaitley presented the general budget, the PM told the Lok Sabha that “I must congratulate Jaitley for coordinating well with the Swiss banks (on the issue of black money). Now, we can get information from them.

We will not deviate from this path, and I must say no one will be spared.” Only a few days ago, Jethmalani had publicly said Modi needs to fire Jaitley if he wanted to succeed in recovering black money! Both Jethmalani and Swamy have their own reasons to be upset with Jaitley – for a long time now.
Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi

Sonia’s warmth

Senior BJP leader L K Advani’s decision to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary with wife Kamala on February 25 moved Congress president Sonia Gandhi beyond words. She could not but recall in a letter to the 86-year-old leader that “February 25 is also a special day for me – the day Rajiv (Gandhi) and I got married, and this year would have been our 47th wedding anniversary,” she said, in a rare outburst of emotions. She added, “For over half-a-century, you have enjoyed a close companionship, giving strength and support to each other through all life’s ups and downs and that is indeed a great blessing!”

As soon as he received the letter, an overwhelmed Advani could not but call up Gandhi and “profusely thank” her for the “warm greetings.” In 2010, Advani had apologised to Gandhi for wrongly mentioning her name in connection to black money stashed abroad in a report of the NDA. This was after she sent a protest letter to Advani, much to the embarrassment of the party.
SI, New Delhi

PIB goof up

On Friday when the Economic Survey was tabled in Parliament, the Press Information Bureau made a goof up in the distribution of the document. The government’s publicity arm set up two counters in its main office and Parliament building to issue copies to scribes. It issued prior authority slips for distributing the Survey till 6 PM. But within the first hour, the stocks at the Parliament counter exhausted and the copies were not available in the PIB either.

The journalists were left to fend for themselves as PIB officials washed their hands off. It turns out that the first batch of Survey documents were pulled out at the eleventh hour because wrong graphics were included in the document. As the survey was printed for the second time, PIB could not coordinate it properly with the finance ministry.
Kalyan Ray, New Delhi

The AAP impact

If not all, at least a section of the Congress leaders in Odisha were impressed by AAP founder and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s decision to go for a public apology before assembly elections for quitting mid-way last time around.

Former Lok Sabha member Pradeep Majhi was first to issue a statement appealing to the Congress leaders in the state to apologise to the people for the party’s past mistakes. The young tribal leader, however, did not specify for which mistake the party should seek apology. Majhi was immediately supported by a section of the party leaders.

But there was another section within the Pradesh Congress Committee which opposed the idea saying that the party – which was routed by the BJD in the last assembly and Lok Sabha elections - should concentrate to strengthen its position instead. The debate finally came to an end with the newly appointed PCC chief Prasad Harichandan declaring that the idea will not be accepted by the party.
S T Beuria, Bhubaneswar

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