Off the record

Firing a salvo

Ahead of key elections in Bihar, which may prove a hard test for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, veteran BJP leaders, who had kept silent after being sidelined since the last Lok Sabha polls, are hoping they will be back in the reckoning in the event of a setback for the BJP. Just as a victory in Bihar will strengthen Modi's hands, a defeat could fuel an outburst of pent-up resentment among party leaders against the party leadership. Already, patriarch L K Advani has used his Emergency interview to fire a salvo. Murli Manohar Joshi raised doubts about the efficacy of the Ganga cleanup project. Yashwant Sinha, whose son is a minister in the Modi government and has a lesser reason to grumble, says the “BJP leadership has declared all leaders above 75 as brain dead.”

Former Union minister Arun Shourie, who is bitter that he was not considered for a Cabinet berth, has commented that “In China, the president of the country would be appointed after closely watching him for nearly 45 years.” Sensing danger, party chief Amit Shah is said to be re-reading lessons he learnt in the Delhi polls for his strategy in Bihar.
Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi

Quick rebuttal

The office of President Pranab Mukherjee has denied the charges leveled against Omita Paul, President’s secretary, by Lalit Modi. The former IPL commissioner, in a tweet, had accused Paul of having connections with Vivek Nagpal, a businessman who is accused of being involved in appointments and elections to the BCCI.

In earlier tweets, Modi had targeted Mukherjee as finance minister for reportedly ordering an ED probe into his IPL deals in the aftermath of Shashi Tharoor’s ouster from the Union Cabinet in 2010. The President refrained from joining the issue with Modi. But when his aide’s name was dropped, Mukherjee wanted that the denial to be issued quickly before the media picked it up. Nagpal’s firm was under investigation by SEBI four years ago.
SI, New Delhi


Tit-for-tat

The NJAC hearing in the SC earlier this month saw lots of fireworks both from the side of the Constitution bench as well as attorney general and other senior counsel, defending or opposing the new law for appointment of judges in the apex court and High Courts. It is rather a rare sight for judges to hear open criticism of the collegium system, which helped them get elevated to the bench. The five judges bench also do not leave any opportunity to grill the counsel about the efficacy of the law, at times with ingenious ones.

On one such occasion, responding to the A-G Mukul Rohatgi’s contention that the new system would be broad-based with inclusion of members of civil society, women and members from SC/ST, the bench asked him why there is no provision for involving transgender in the six-member panel for selection of judges. On another opportunity, the bench again queried if foreigners could also be appo-inted in the category of emin-ent citizens, saying the government did not specify that he or she has to be an Indian citizen.
Ashish Tripathi, New Delhi


In the queue

The women officers in Gujarat bureaucracy are hoping that the Anandiben Patel government would finally accede to their demand and let them move to Delhi where their husbands are posted. This, despite the buzz that the government is in no mood to let any of its officers move to Delhi as it is facing shortage of IAS officers in the state.

Among the women IAS officers who are in the queue to fly off to Delhi include, Gujarat's chief electoral officer Anita Karwal, whose husband Atul Karwal, IPS, is deputed with the CRPF and Vatsala Vasudevan, whose husband and investigator in Sohrabuddin encounter case Rajnish Rai, IPS, is also posted with the CRPF. The other lady officer looking to move is Anju Sharma, CEO of Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority.
Sunil Raghu, Ahmedabad

Voluble leaders

Staunch in their opposition to the changes to the land acquisition bill, Congress leaders were expected to be vociferous in the meetings of the Joint Committee of Parliament. However, it is Trinamool Congress leaders Derek O’Brien and Kalyan Banerjee who are most vocal followed by some members of the BJP itself.

A senior Congress leader said they have not found it necessary to intervene as Banerjee is known to single-handedly dominate the meetings. Congress leaders Digvijaya Singh, Jairam Ramesh, Rajeev Satav and K V Thomas are members of the committee.
Sagar Kulkarni, New Delhi

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


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