Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Snippets/ Mail Today, March 01, 2010

Why can’t politicians tell the truth?
NOW here is something to ponder about. Telangana has been on the boil for over three months now. People are immolating themselves, MPs and MLAs are resigning en masse and the local administration is paralysed. As Telangana flared, noises began to emanate from places as far as Vidharba, Purvanchal, Mithilanchal and Saurashtra for separate states. To douse passions or to buy time, the Centre offered to set up a second States Reorganisation Commission.

Though the issue dominated the front pages, there was strangely no mention of it in President Pratibha Patil’s address to Parliament’s joint session. Why, she skipped any mention of the appointment of the B. N. Sri Krishna Commission.

This is strange because as far back as 2004, the then president APJ Abdul Kalam had made two references to Telangana in his address to Parliament. It appears that the government doesn’t quite believe in what it preaches.

But the Centre is not the only guilty party. Many regional leaders had demanded smaller states, including Mayawati. She claims to have written a letter to the PM “ urging him to give us clearance for creating independent states of Bundelkhand and Harit Pradesh out of a giant sized and unmanageable Uttar Pradesh”. But if what the junior minister for home affairs Ajay Maken told Parliament last week is anything to go by, it is difficult to believe who is telling the truth. He said “ as per records available, no political party or leaders have requested for setting up of the second States Reorganisation Commission. However, some representations have been received from individuals/ organisations. As of now, no decision has been taken in this respect.”. All of which just goes to show that our political class doesn’t bat an eyelid about fudging the truth.

RS re-election jitters for five top ministers in UPA govt
THERE’S more turbulence awaiting the Congress and things could slip from bad to worse in the coming months. Five senior and “ indispensable” ministers of the UPA government, all members of the Rajya Sabha, are due to retire within the next couple of months. The Congress will have to ensure their re- election, which looks easier said than done considering its frosty relations with some of the alliance partners. A. K. Antony, Ambika Soni, Anand Sharma, M. S. Gill and Jairam Ramesh are all high profile ministers as is B. K. Harikumar, a general secretary.

They are due to retire between April and June. Among them, Soni and Gill can hope to get elected from Punjab. Sharma will have to look outside his state because his party is at least 13 seats short to win the lone seat in Himachal. Antony can take the one seat available for the Congress- led UDF in Kerala, but there is a hitch. The Muslim League, the Congress’s local ally in the state, has held a Rajya Sabha seat uninterrupted since 1957. Its MP Abdul Wahab will retire in April along with Antony. As things stand now, Antony is the obvious choice.

But Muslim League leaders from Kerala are coming to meet Madam on Tuesday to remind her that the ML has stood by the Congress since 1957, even after the Babri Masjid demolition when everyone else deserted it. The ML argument is that since the Congress can dispatch candidates to other states, Antony should be asked to contest from elsewhere. But sources close to Antony say he will not relish the idea and will opt for ministerial renunciation rather than switch states. Will Madam heed the sentiments of the Muslim League? Ramesh is from Karnataka but he is a Rajya Sabha member from Andhra Pradesh and considering the sentiments of the Telangana brigade, the party is looking at all options. Last heard, it may even rope Chiranjeevi’s Praja Desam Party into the UPA to ensure that the environment minister gets to stay on in the job.

AS things stand now, the Commonwealth Games ( CWG) due to be held in New Delhi this October could shame India. Its successful conduct could also be held up as an exemplar of a shining India. For months now, as deadline after deadline passed by and work continued at snail’s pace, the odds were on India showing itself up as a sporting pariah to the world. There is some hope now. And it may have come about by default. Girish Chandra Chaturvedi, currently additional secretary financial services, is being appointed as chief executive officer of CWG. GC as he is affectionately known has completed a seven- year tenure at the Centre and was to have gone back to his parent cadre in Uttar Pradesh. But GC is some sort of a financial wizard, just the kind of chap that Mayawati may not want around. The feelings must have been mutual, because GC is known to have used the immense clout that a close relative enjoys with the powers- that- be to stall his possible transfer back to his home state. By the time the Games are over in October, GC would have been empanelled as secretary to the Government of India. He won’t then ever have to serve in Lucknow, Mayawati or no Mayawati.

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