Off the record

Off the record

Costly sip

Having fresh cup of coffee as well as tea in the Parliament House will be a costly affair soon. Prices of both coffee and tea are set to go up with the Parliament’s Food Committee is expected to take up the proposal any time.

The Coffee Board, which runs coffee shop in Parliament, had submitted a proposal to increase the price to Rs 5 per cup from existing Rs 1.50, while the Tea Board submitted the proposals to increase the price to Rs 4 or Rs 5 from existing Re 1.

There is also a proposal to install six vending machines of each both coffee and tea in different places at the Parliament Complex.

Last month, food items prices at Parliament canteens have been increased and now the canteens are being run on no-loss, no profit basis. The rates have been hiked as there have been controversies from time to time over subsidised food being served in Parliament when there is so much inflation in open market.

An RTI query has revealed that the Parliament canteen facility got a total subsidy of
Rs 60.7 crore in the last five years.
Ajith Athrady, New Delhi

Rajkhowa absent

Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyothi Prasad Rajkhowa was absent at the fourth Governors Conference hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee in Rashtrapati Bhavan last week.

With the Supreme Court hearing a batch of petitions about Rajkhowa’s role in recommending the dismissal of the Congress ministry, his absence led to speculation among his gubernatorial colleagues. Rajkhowa stayed away apparently at the instance of Mukherjee who did not want to bring any focus on him when governors discussed their roles.

The Centre apparently agreed with the President’s office and wanted Rajkhowa to stay put in Itanagar to put the administration back on rails.

Insiders did not fail to recall that Mukherjee had affixed his signature on imposing Central rule in the North-Eastern state only after Home Minister Rajnath Singh did some explaining– on why New Delhi had to intervene following dissensions in the Congress party, which saw a huge standoff between Rajkhowa and deposed Chief Minister Nabam Tuki.
Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi

Open mind

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is counting on Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to nullify Bengal CPM’s bid to seek an alliance with her party to stave off a severe challenge from the Trinamool Congress.

Mamata’s reading is that Rahul Gandhi has an open mind about the issue but Sonia is not so keen for an open tie-up with the Marxists. Sonia would  like to go by views of senior Congress leader A K Antony. He has conveyed to her that the Kerala unit is dead against any understanding with the Reds that will cast shadow in God’s own country.

Mamata believes that, notwithstanding their political differences, Sonia still likes her and won’t want her to be pushed to the BJP’s side in the future.

Nevertheless, Mamata has sought to remind Bengal Congress leaders, who are also keen for an alliance with the CPM, that “the CPM called Rajiv Gandhi Bofors Gandhi. They called Indira Gandhi a dictator. Nobody can forget that 55,000 Congress workers were killed during the 34 years of Left rule.” This has led to a bigger question: is Mamata actually worried about Congress-Left alliance?
SI, New Delhi

Different strokes

The absence of electioneering by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for Congress nominee Md Shabbir during Harlakhi bypoll set the tongues wagging.

The grapevine was abuzz with the theory that Nitish had a soft corner for the NDA nominee Sudhanshu Kushwaha, who belonged to the same OBC group Kurmi-Kushwaha, which Nitish represents.

Sudhanshu, a political greenhorn, was in the fray as RLSP nominee. The bypoll was necessitated as his father Basant Kumar, who won the 2015 November Assembly poll as RLSP candidate, died a day before he was scheduled to be sworn in as an MLA.

To capitalize on sympathy wave, the BJP-led NDA fielded the late leader’s son for February 13 bypoll. The Congress, however, insists that there is an established norm where a PM or a CM normally do not campaign for bypolls.

The JD (U) leaders, on the other hand, argue that Nitish deliberately kept himself out of campaign as he wanted to judge how could the Congress fare in his absence.
Abhay Kumar, Patna

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