Off the record

Off the record

Visa mess

Did External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj keep Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the loop when she helped former Indian Premier League (IPL) commissioner Lalit Modi procure travel documents in the UK last year? Her stout defence of her action has led to speculation in this regard. After all, Lalit Modi’s passport was revoked in March 2010 following the IPL scam. Staying in the UK since then, he was considered a fugitive who is under probe by the Enforcement Directorate. Lalit Modi told her that his wife was suffering from cancer and her surgery was fixed for August 4 in Portugal.

Swaraj says she conveyed his request to the British envoy in New Delhi, ‘taking a humanitarian view’ of his case. Modi was given a visa after Indian-origin British MP Keith Vaz recommended his name. According to the British media, Vaz cited Swaraj’s name to put pressure on UK’s top immigration official to grant British travel papers to Modi. The grant of visa is being discussed before a parliamentary panel in the UK.
Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi

Cold vibes

The differences between the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting over security clearances for Kalanidhi Maran -promoted Sun TV Network’s group companies has brought focus on the not-so-cosy ties between their respective ministers – Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley. The two leaders are, however, silent on the issue. But their respective ministries have exchanged letters, which have come into the open highlighting their different perceptions.

Can the channels be stopped because the owners are under probe? Yes, say Singh’s aides. No, says the I&B Ministry. Sun TV owners are under probe by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate for economic offen-ces. The I&B ministry officials are of view that “economic sec-urity” cannot be equated to “national security.” The refusal to grant a licence could result in the closure of 33 TV channels, FM channels and print outlets.
SI, New Delhi

Wily move

His detractors often charge Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik of depending more on bureaucrats rather than his ministerial colleagues for running the administration. Therefore, when he reportedly asked his ministers at a recent cabinet meeting that they should not always listen to the officials and use their own bra-in while disposing off government files, it obviously made news.

Observers, however, are of the view that it was an attempt by the wily CM to kill two birds in one shot. His words were ai-med at some of the “powerful” bureaucrats to size and clip their wings, and indicating to them that they should remain within their limits. At the same time, he also gave a signal to some of his cabinet colleagues that they are inefficient, hence he depends more on officials.
S T Beuria, Bhubaneswar

Mufti’s ton

In the era of Bollywood sequels, the PDP-BJP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir has completed its 100-Days. Much like the horror films of 1990s, the survi-val of the Mufti Mohd Sayeed government is always under question because of the unlikely bedfellows sharing the gover-nment. One controversy or the other courts the government which took office on March 1.

From the release to re-arrest of separatist Masrat Aalam to the controversy surrounding construction of artificial lake in Jammu, the coalition partners have been at loggerheads, including Mufti hailing Pakistan’s role in his government formation. But then, the government tried its best to make some path-breaking developments. Leaving aside other issues, it prioritised the visit of film stars like Dilip Kumar and Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) where Team Mufti requested Bollywood to rediscover its love for film shooting in Kashmir. But then, 100-days are too short a period to assess a government. As SRK said in one of his films: “Picture abhi baaki hai!”
Zulfikar Majid, Srinagar

Waiting list

One year in power, discontent seems to brewing within a section of the BJP MPs. One such parliamentarian is Patna Sahib Lok Sabha member Shatrug-han Sinha who made a clean breast about how he had not been inducted into the Narendra Modi cabinet despite his “proven ability, capability and acceptability” within the BJP. The four-term MP, including two-term as RS member, was a cabinet minister in the Vajpayee government.
“Shatru was in the good boo-ks of Modi after he invited the PM for his son’s wedding but lost the race because of being too frank. Soon after Delhi poll rout, he had said: ‘Taali kaptan ko, toh gaali bhi kaptan ko (If bouquet for the captain, then brickbats too for him). This was not appreciated by PM,’” said a BJP MP. No wonder, Shatru is still waiting for his achche din.
Abhay Kumar, Patna

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