Off the record

Aid or raid?

Even as his troubles with Sasikala acquire new dimensions following her taking charge as the AIADMK general secretary, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Paneerselvam has advised the TN Bhavan officials in Delhi not to remove the portraits of Jayalalithaa or replace them with his picture. During his visit a few days ago to the capital, Paneerselvam also refused to stay in the CM’s suite in the Bhavan, preferring to stay in one of the rooms kept for ministers. He also did not use the elevator that was specially erected for Jayalalithaa’s use.

Incidentally, the income tax raid on chief secretary Ram Mohana Rao took place a day after Paneersevlam called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking Central aid for the cyclone-hit state. With many AIADMK tongues wagging about the timing of the raid, a political aide could not help wonder whether the CM asked for “aid” or “raid.” The action on Rao led to speculations about the I-T raid being targeted at those who are seen as very close to Sasikala, like mining baron Sekhar Reddy.
Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi

Stoic silence

Leaders across party lines are puzzled over the stoic silence maintained by Janata Dal (United) national president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on the issue of demonetisation. In the initial days of the note ban, Nitish had praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and asserted that the move would help strengthen economy. But when it started affecting the common man adversely, Nitish said he would review his stand after December 30, when the PM’s deadline ends.

Two days after the deadline, the ‘review’ is yet to come. Neither his alliance partners – the RJD and the Congress – nor the Opposition BJP can hazard a guess on which side of the fence Nitish is. Some believe that Nitish would avoid saying anything against Modi till January 5, the day when the PM will share dais with the Bihar CM on the occasion of Prakash Parv in Patna. Modi will address the gathering here on the occasion of the 350th birth anniversary of Tenth Sikh Guru Guru Gobind Singh. Till the Sikh fest is over, Nitish is unlikely to create any bad blood.
Abhay Kumar, Patna

The big miss

In what was a first, the Press Information Bureau (PIB) decided to compile Cabinet decisions of a year but what made it notable was the omission of a big announcement that rocked the country. The PIB went on a drive on New Year’s eve to publicise the decisions taken by the Modi government. It came up with two press releases — one on decisions taken since May 2014 when the NDA government took charge and another on decisions taken in 2016.

While the first one had over 33,900 words, the second release had around 11,000 words. However, those who compiled the list forgot to add a couple of decisions. Among them was the Cabinet move on demonetisation taken on Nov 8 and an ordinance to give legal backing to it. How it was omitted is now a million dollar question.
Shemin Joy, New Delhi

Foiled plans

Many big hotels in Chennai had organised New Year’s eve bash by offering attractive discounts to their customers. However, the effect of demonetisation persisted as many of the organisers could not sell the tickets. Some even had to cancel their programmes due to poor response. However, a leading resort hotel near the outskirts of the city issued many leftover tickets as complimentary to its staff to draw the crowd.

An auto driver who procured a couple of tickets for the New Year’s bash from his neighbour – who is a staff of that hotel – drove to the event with a friend in his own auto. When the hotel authorities refused to allow the auto inside the parking area, the angry driver tore the tickets and came back with his friend to the city to watch a movie on the New Year’s night.
R Sathyanarayana, Chennai

PM eligible

Infamous for courting controversies with his remarks, Uttar Pradesh minister and senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan, a well-known critic of PM Narendra Modi, thinks that he is the right person for the country’s top job as he possesses all the qualities required for a person at that position. These qualities, among others, included ”making tea.”

“I can not only make tea but also play drum,” he recently said at a function in his Assembly constituency of Rampur. “'I have more qualities that are required to be possessed by a prime minister,” he added. The sarcasm was clearly evident as he went on to declare that he would have Rs 25 lakh deposited into the bank accounts of every citizen of the country if he became the prime minister, which was again a barb aimed at PM Modi’s promise about bringing back black money stashed in Swiss banks.
Sanjay Pandey, Lucknow

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