Off the record

Shanghai calling

Much to the surprise of BJP cadres, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose a faraway Shanghai to mark a year after his victory in the Lok Sabha elections. Though numerous functions have been organised at home to highlight his government’s achievements, Modi preferred a huge crowd of cheering Indians in Shanghai, perhaps reminding him of the time he had such crowds at election rallies in India – to reflect on his performance. “It is my misfortune that I am criticised for working hard. If working hard is a crime, I am prepared to commit that crime for 125 crore Indians.”

But for many BJP leaders, Modi’s rather candid remark that “I may make a mistake due to lack of experience but, it will never be done with bad intent” was pregnant with meaning. Is the PM realising that he could have erred on some issues? Is the NDA’s land acquisition bill one such issue? “Well, no,” was Modi’s own response when he interacted with a group of senior editors and columnists at a meeting organised by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. “Our only mistake was that we thou-ght the issue was bipartisan because even Congress CMs fav-oured changes to the 2013 Act. But it turned out otherwise.”
Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi

Novel idea

Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju has come with a novel idea of involving his predecessors on suggestions for key issues like revising the norms for domestic airlines to fly abroad. “I have now written to former aviation ministers from the NDA regime to share their ideas on the new aviation policy and also on the policy to replace the 5-year, 20-aircraft criteria for Indian carriers to fly abroad,” says Raju who feels that the current eligibility criteria stifle the growth of Indian carriers. But he would like draw from the “wisdom and experience” of his predecessors when there is so much lobbying by rival airlines.
SI, New Delhi

Privileges? Not for me

At a time parliamentarians are vociferously arguing for continuance of preferential treatment at airports, journalist-turned-Rajya Sabha MP Harivansh is walking against the tide. The JD(U) MP from Bihar has now shot off a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju asking him to withdraw the VIP treatment for lawmakers. He asks, “an MP is also like a common man. What is wrong in collecting the boarding pass by standing in a queue? What is wrong in an MP sitting alongside co-passengers in common lounge? Why should an MP who is boarding or alighting from a plane get special vehicles or special treatment?”

Harivansh’s letter comes at a time when there is a campaign for curtailing privileges of parliamentarians and government’s insistence that they will continue to get facilities like access to reserved lounges in airports, free entry to terminal building and visitors’ gallery as well as serving tea, coffee and water free of charge.
Shemin Joy, New Delhi

Distance does matter

The letter by retired IPS officer D G Vanzara, who is out on bail in three encounter cases, seeking promotions for the 16 policemen who are fighting the cases of encounters in Gujarat is expected to have little effect on the state government, at least that is what his own colleagues seem to opine.

One of the senior cops, who is believed to have played a key role in the encounters, simply smiled when asked about the letter. “Even when the UPA was in power, such outbursts made little difference. How then with current dispensation is positively inclined towards us in complete control will help?” Asked whether they will get promotions due to them, he smilingly added, “If you are on the terrace of a building, you can see pain on the faces of people on the ground. But if you are in a higher orbit in space, all you see is the earth as a big ball. It is difficult to see people or their faces.” It seems the growing distance does indeed matter in such cases.
Sunil Raghu, Ahmedabad

Insurance agent & IPS officer

A senior IPS officer looked harried and was fuming. “Once a senior official tells you, you must respect and understand. How many times will you welcome me? I am being welcom-ed every hour for last 10 hours. I cannot take it anymore. Plea-se do not welcome me any mo-re, else I shall be forced to take action.” The IPS official, who is among the top 10 policemen in the state, was yelling at a call centre executive from a leading insurance firm of the country - SBI Life. The executives of SBI Life in their over enthusiasm to welcome a new customer forgot that they were more than disturbing him. The officer’s mistake was that he had subscr-ibed to a new insurance policy!
SR, Ahmedabad

Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi? Who will win the battle royale of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019


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