Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Snippets/ Mail Today, April 19, 2010

Now tatkal clearance for Games
IN THE old days when a telephone was a luxury and owning one involved a waiting period that often took years, you could opt for a Tatkal scheme and acquire a connection. Ditto for the railways where if you had to travel and didn’t have a reservation, you could opt for a ticket under the tatkal scheme. But ever heard of a tatkal clearance for the cause of sport? With the 19th Commonwealth Games now less than 200 days away, among the many things that cause headaches to cabinet secretary K. M. Chandrasekhar is the woeful shortage of accommodation for the thousands of visitors who are expected to visit the Capital for the 11- day event.

Delhi, rising India’s shining Capital, has fewer hotel rooms than many small cities in the US or Europe. The government came up with a scheme to bridge this shortage by offering fully furnished DDA flats at reasonable rates for visitors. Plans were afoot to offer about 2,700 such flats, but there were hitches. Green activists planned to petition the environment ministry against clearance for the flats. In Jairam Ramesh, they saw a friend who would sympathise with their cause and give the government a thumbs down.

Last week, the matter came up for discussion during a meeting of the standing committee of the CWG, chaired by the cabinet secretary. Faced with several imponderables, Chandrasekhar called Ramesh who promised to get back later in the day. The minister promptly reviewed the situation with the mandarins of his ministry and within hours called back the CabSec to assure him that clearance for the project had been okayed and the necessary notifications would soon be issued. Like everyone else, Chandrasekhar knows that Ramesh is a very efficient minister, but the minister’s lightning reflexes have now prompted the CabSec to rechristen Ramesh “ the Tatkal Minister”.

Nitish could mar prospects of BJP, Cong in Bihar
NITISH Kumar may have failed to get special status for his state from the Planning Commission, but during his tenure, the socialistturned- free- marketer chief minister has himself acquired a special political status in the state that goes to polls in a few months’ time. In the once lawless state, now there is more than a semblance of law and order. Yet, Nitish’s political arrogance and highly individualistic rule has not only created mayhem in his own party, the JD( U), but has paralysed the BJP, its ally.

On the eve of elections, the divide between the two is widening by the day and there is no clear agenda or chain of command to steer the NDA. While Nitish cocks a snook at his “ high command” in Delhi, the local BJP appears to be a house of cards which could collapse any moment. Five months after his appointment, BJP chief Nitin Gadkari has not chosen a state party president nor named a central leader to oversee the party’s election strategy. This is crucial, because the Bihar polls will be the first after Gadkari’s elevation and therefore could make or mar his own career.

The state BJP is being managed and manipulated by Friends Of Nitish Kumar ( FONK) based in Delhi and Patna. The Congress seems to be in a deeper crisis as state chief Anil Sharma is unable to carry the cadres with him. Jagdish Tytler, the AICC’s point man for Bihar, is spending sleepless nights in the heat and dust of the backward state, but his efforts may come to nought because the caste and community- ridden party consists of many invisible Nitish admirers.

Rahul Gandhi's resolve to revive the party in the state is unlikely to yield dividends unless he takes direct command. The only beneficiaries of the confusion are the regional satraps such as Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan. The fate of the two national parties will depend on how quickly their central leadership rids their respective parties of the virus called FONK.

THE CURRENT BJP leadership may believe that there is no matter of national importance more pressing than the shenanigans of Lalit Modi and Shashi Tharoor, but the parent RSS obviously thinks otherwise. A resolution passed by the Akhil Bharatiya Prathinidhi Sabha of the RSS, which met last fortnight, was as much an indictment of the Centre and the state government in Jammu & Kashmir for the drift in the state as of the BJP leaders for nitpicking over trivial issues. The resolution was passed just a few days before Manmohan Singh left for the United States where he had a scheduled meeting with his Pak counterpart.

In the past, before any such meeting, the BJP president or the Leader of the Opposition called on the Prime Minister to convey the Opposition’s mood on important bilateral issues. No such meeting was sought this time, which the RSS feels, is an indication that the BJP had got its priorities all wrong. The new party president who hasn’t allocated work responsibilities to his office bearers despite being at the helm for nearly six months now, is busy hiring second grade management doctors to cure the party’s ills. Nitin Gadkari came to office promising to take the BJP back to its roots. So far, he has nothing to show and time may not be on his side for long.

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