Off the record

Fly, minister!

Union Minister of State for Skill Development Rajiv Pratap Rudy has never hidden his passion for flying Airbus. Till he was inducted into the government, Rudy was a captain with IndiGo on honorary basis, often surprising his colleagues by steering their flights. However, for any one to keep his licence "current," he has to fly a minimum number of hours in a year and a failure to do so would result in it getting lapsed.

Rudy, type-A rated Airbus A320 pilot,  is now keen to resume flying but cannot be in the cockpits of private airliners. A proposal is being worked out, which may see Rudy donning the commander's uniform for Air India. “It will not be at the cost of my work in the government,” Rudy promises. “It can only be with the limited purpose of keeping my flying licence alive,” he says, candidly.
Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi

BJP’s pain

There may be nothing in common between BJP MPs Shatrughan Sinha and Varun Gandhi except that both the leaders believe that their party has not put them to good use nor given them ministerial responsibilities. They have both backed abolition of death penalty in open defiance of the BJP's line in the wake of hanging of Mumbai blast accused Yakub Memon. Gandhi has, however, been more circumspect in his views on the BJP leadership.
On the other hand, Sinha has not minced words on how he feels being left out in the current dispensation of the BJP. Sinha has backed Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ahead of the state polls. But neither Prime Minister Narendra Modi nor BJP chief Amit Shah are in a mood to act against them now. "As a Bihari babu, if I don't praise Nitish Kumar as Bihar CM, who else will," Sinha says even as there are many red faces in the BJP.
SI, New Delhi


“Grow money”

Short of funds to pay the compensation to the farmers for their acquired land and frustrated over repeated agitations, Uttar Pradesh officials seem to have devised a novel but ridiculous plan to pacify the farmers. They are now asking the farmers to “grow money” on their remaining lands. It would not only make them rich but also enable the officials to pay compensation to the farmers elsewhere.

Recently, a senior government official in UP's Shahjahanpur district clearly told the agitating farmers to do so. ``You (farmers) either grow money on your soil or do something so that it rains money from the skies'', the official told the stunned farmers. A video showing the official making the remark went viral on the social media. The farmers' organisations are now contemplating a bigger agitation on the issue.
Sanjay Pandey, Lucknow

Good augury

Swift turn of events last week in the Supreme Court showed how robust our institution is. It was very reassuring to see that the doors of the top court can be knocked at any hour and our judges are ready to give hearing when it comes to be question of life and death.

Two different benches took up Yakub case but there was marked difference in their approaches. A clear disagreement in judges was perceptible when the two-judge bench heard his counsel. This ultimately resulted in split verdict. All eyes next day were set on hearing before three-judge bench. The new, larger bench was headed by Justice Dipak Misra known for his literary references and sharp quotes. Contrary to belief, this bench maintained almost complete silence during the hearing, giving sufficient indication for lawyers and visitors of the fate that awaited 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict.
Ashish Tripathi, New Delhi


“No work, no pay”

Although Union Minister Mahesh Sharma has retracted from his recent statement in Varanasi that there were suggestions within the government to bring in “no work, no pay” system for the MPs, his message seems to have reached to those it was meant for.
Congress MP Jairam Ramesh on Sunday categorically rejected the minister’s view that parliamentarians were not working, insisting that the Congress MPs are “working hard”.  "We have standing committee meetings. I have a select committee meeting on land bill on Monday and another on health. So, how can you say MPs are not working?," Ramesh asked. For now, MPs can take a sigh of relief, as Union Minister of State Nirmala Sitharaman later in the day said there was "no such matter" before the government as of now.
Prakash Kumar, New Delhi

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