Off the record

Off the record

Impressed Modi

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s stocks have gone up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his second budget, which followed the guidelines from the latter’s office to reflect the concerns of the average passenger. A former chartered accountant, Prabhu went through at least a 100 drafts before he finalised his budget speech.

A stickler for perfection, he and his small team went through each and every word. The team included officer on special duty Hanish Yadav, a former McKinsey partner. Modi made it a point to convey his appreciation to Prabhu for doing a “good job.”
Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi

Mum’s the word

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi surprised his party colleagues by not participating in the Lok Sabha debate on the twin issues concerning the crackdown in JNU and the death of HCU Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula. A day before the debate began, Gandhi had told reporters, “I will speak, but they will not let me speak. Because they are scared of what I will say.”

With his visits to Hyderabad and support to the JNU students, Gandhi had put the government on the defensive. But when it came to a showdown with the government inside Parliament, he chose not to engage. However, two days later, Gandhi made a sharp riposte at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his ‘Satyamev Jayate’ tweet after HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s fiery speech in Lok Sabha, asking him to hear the version of Vemula’s mother. However, some Congressmen are not amused that Gandhi was absent from Parliament when Irani spoke.
SI, New Delhi

No cheap food

During Parliament session, canteens on the premises always witness a huge crowd as staff, visitors and media personnel rush to have lunch or evening snacks. However, this time it wore a deserted look. The reason is simple: rise in the prices of food items. “Business has come down by 40% this time. We have even reduced the number of dishes due to poor response,” said a manager of a canteen. The canteen staff were also strict in dealing with customers, as the bosses has instructed not to give anything extra at free of cost, even additional sambar to customers.

After facing media fury that netas were enjoying food at subsidised prices, the Parliament Canteen Committee recently decided to increase the prices of all food items and run the canteen on non-profit, no-loss basis. Those MPs, who always said that they took the blame while others enjoyed cheap food all these years, may now be beaming.
Ajith Athrady, New Delhi

Still in the game

The BJP may have suspended Kirti Azad for raking up the DDCA scam but that has not decreased his popularity among party MPs. On the first day of the Budget session of Parliament, several BJP members were seen chatting with Azad who was seated next to party veteran L K Advani.

As Narendra Modi entered the Lok Sabha chamber, Azad got up to leave the front row seat, perhaps to avoid a run-in with the Prime Minister. However, Advani signalled Azad to stay put and the duo greeted Modi as he went about exchanging pleasantries with Lok Sabha members.
Sagar Kulkarni, New Delhi

Reminder to ‘Elders’

With some members failing to furnish details of their assets and liabilities, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat has shot off reminders directing them to file the details “without further delay.” According to the Rajya Sabha rules, all elected members have to declare details of their assets and liabilities – both in India and abroad – to the Rajya Sabha chairman within 90 days of their oath or affirmation. These lists are to be updated every year.

“Those members who have not submitted the information are, therefore, requested to furnish the same in the prescribed format without any further delay so as to comply with the law and the rules,” said an advisory to the members. Members have also been asked to declare pecuniary benefits they receive by virtue of remunerative directorship, regular remunerative activity, shareholding of controlling nature, paid consultancy and professional engagements to the Committee of Ethics.
SK, New Delhi