Off the record

Agatha’s hunt for office ends

Agatha Sangma was the centre of attraction at Rashtrapati Bhavan on May 26, when she took oath as a Minister of State (MoS) — becoming the youngest member of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s team.

The daughter of former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma, she was later given the portfolio of rural development.

Immediately after being sworn in, the 28-year-old minister had to fly back to her hometown Tura in Meghalaya for her brother’s wedding ceremony.

After returning to the Capital, a few days later, she was keen to start her new innings as the MoS at Krishi Bhavan. But she was asked to wait for sometime as the officials in the ministry could not provide her with a room.

“The ministry of rural development had only two MoS during the tenure of the last government. So there are only two rooms for MoSs. But now, that there are three, the officials are yet to get another room for me,” she told journalists, recently outside Parliament.

The other two MoSs in the ministry, Sisir Adhikary and Pradeep Jain, had occupied the available rooms with the ministry while Agatha was away.

Minister for Rural Development C P Joshi, who intervened later, asked the officials to get a room for Agatha immediately. Finally, a room has been allotted to her. The room is now being decked up and she might start attending office this week.

Anirban Bhaumik, New Delhi

Moily’s true colour

Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily showed his true colour after becoming a member of the Union Cabinet. After assuming office at Shastri Bhawan on May 29, he refused not to speak in not just Hindi but also in any other regional language — including Kannada.
After the press conference, a Kannada TV channel crew rushed to for a repeat of the contents in Kannada for viewers in Karnataka. The former Karnataka chief minister refused to oblige the journalist with a polite ‘No’.

He reasoned, “Once I speak in Kannada, others will request me to speak in other languages too.’’

But throughout his press meet, Moily uttered ‘aam admi’ several times — referring to common people — and spoke about reaching out to them with easy access to the judiciary.

Hindi and regional channels were disheartened at the refusal. A cameraman of a Hindi channel was heard saying: “Na Hindi mein bole, na chai pilaye (Neither spoke in Hindi, nor he treated us with tea).’’

Pratap Patnaik, New Delhi

Didi’s big house

After warming hearts with her good Samaritan acts like offering first aid to an injured stranger on the road, Didi is all set for a house warming.

After quite a few nudges from Congress high command and her own party colleagues, Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee has finally agreed to move to Lutyen’s Bungalow which is befitting to her present stature as a member of the Union Cabinet.

Mamata, known for her simple lifestyle, was not too keen to move out of her current home — a fourth-floor flat in the MP’s Apartment in Baba Kharak Singh Marg.

MPs from her party pleaded with her to agree for a new address as it would not look good if they opted for sprawling bungalows when their leader had to squeeze in the not-so-huge accommodation.

She had refused to move to a minister’s accommodation when she took over the Railways portfolio during the NDA regime too.

However, with the change in the number of MPs, Didi has also changed.

Shruba Mukherjee, New Delhi

New cadre is in

During the previous dispensation of the UPA, it was Kerala cadre IAS officials or Malayalam speaking babus who got maximum benefit in getting key postings. Which cadre officers will rule the roost in the new government? Will it be Andhra Pradesh?
Top three vacant posts were filled recently — Election Commissioner, Chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, and Secretary to ministry of power. All of them have gone to Andhra cadre IAS officers.

Grapevine has it that the babus, eyeing plum postings, are running behind Andhra Pradesh Congress MPs to seek their ‘blessing’.

Ajith Athrady, New Delhi

Outstanding

At times, decorum prevents one from reacting naturally to a situation.
At a function organised by the Khadri Shamanna Smaraka Trust, recently, many journalists, litterateurs and musicians were present. It was a wonderful moment to see noted personalities under one roof.

Noted music director and singer C Aswath was asked to sing at the beginning of the programme. The audience were just beginning to enjoy his songs, when the mike went off. Immediately, it started to work again. The singer too was wondering. He checked the mike and continued to sing.

After sometime the mike gave a big noise and stopped working again. There was pin drop silence. Suddenly, a little boy started to laugh loudly in a mocking manner. The audience were in a fix. They had to hide their face in shame as the mockery would amount to an insult to the well-known musician. The audience did not know how to react.
Then Aswath started to sing without the mike, making the audience to sit up and listen. At the end, there was an applause for the true spirit of the great artiste.

Poornima Nataraj, Bangalore

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