Saturday, June 28, 2008

Panchayati Raj/Power&Politics/Mail Today-June 23,2008

WHEN IS more less merrier? When it involves Mani Shankar Aiyer. The ebullient Panchayati Raj Minister has already lost the coveted Sports and Youth Affairs portfolio for speaking his mind about the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, atrait which has earned him enough enemies. They rejoiced at what was perceived as his downgrading, but are obviously dismayed over his appointment to the power Congress Election Committee headed by AK Antony, aclear indication that at 10 Janpath, Mani still matters. So efforts are on to cut him to size. The latest is the Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC). It was set up in 2005, after agap of 40 years with Congress General Secretary Veerappa Moily as its head to look into, among other things, strengthening the financial management system. Its reports are submitted in phases and one more will soon be handed to the government. One of the recommendations pertains to cutting down the number of government departments from 400 to 395 or thereabouts. Among the causalities could be the Department for the Development of North East Region (DONER), and Mani is the minister. Mani says the ARC did not consult him even once while coming to its conclusions while those close to him accuse ARC Chief of backstabbing. Moily is perfectly placed to do that. His office in Vigyan Bhavan, that shunting yard for countless commissions and useless ministries, is right behind Mani’s.

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