Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Snippets / Mail Today, June 28, 2010

These babus neither tire nor retire
LIKE old soldiers, retired bureaucrats don’t pass on, but unlike them, former babus don’t fade away. Many are getting resurrected as MPs, ministers or in some cases political advisers, cosying up to the powers that be, at the Centre or the states. Quite a few of them are turning out to be the cause of friction in the parties which adopted them and none more so than Pyari Mohan Mahapatra, the former IAS officer and now Rajya Sabha MP of the Biju Janata Dal ( BJD), and N. K. Singh , the former finance secretary whom Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar sent to the Upper House as a JD( U) MP.
Last year, Mahapatra, who is said to be Naveen Patnaik’s chief strategist, played a key role in pulling the BJD out of the NDA and, if the grapevine is to be believed, Singh is doing the same in Bihar. Reports suggest that Singh is the cause of the rift in the JD( U)- BJP tie up which is almost a decade- and- a- half old.

It is said that Singh, a networker par excellence who counts the Ambani brothers, Sunil Mittal, Praful Patel and the like among his close friends, is acting at the behest of a senior Congress minister who wants to bring the Congress and the JD( U) closer before the state assembly elections later this year.

If true, Mahapatra and Singh are merely following in the footsteps of their predecessors, some of whom have caused immense embarrassment to the parties that inducted them into politics.
Nitish Sengupta, a former revenue secretary, joined the Trinamool Congress in 1999 and successfully contested the Lok Sabha elections from Contai in West Bengal, but Mamata Banerjee had to show him the door after he tried to sabotage TC- BJP ties.

Among JD( U) and BJD cadres in Bihar and Orissa, there is immense resentment over the disruptive tendencies of these retirees and it will come as no surprise if both find their wings clipped in the not too distant future.
Get ready for Alagiri’s yankee- style makeover
HE WAS seen as someone who was in the cabinet only because his father, M. Karunanidhi’s clout in the UPA is second only to its chairperson Sonia Gandhi. He was mocked as an ignoramus who knew nothing about the important portfolios that he handled, fertilisers and chemicals, and for his inability to connect with anybody outside his Madurai constituency because he could understand no language other than his native Tamil.

His record of truancy in office and in cabinet meetings rivalled that of the temperamental Mamata Banerjee. But M. K. Alagiri, the eldest of the Tamil patriarch’s politically ambitious children is undergoing a sudden and rapid transformation that would make his critics blush if they had any shame.

He skipped the inauguration of the World Tamil Conference in Coimbatore last week, where he was to have inaugurated the book fair, and was the only DMK minister who attended the Empowered Group of Ministers meeting on Bhopal.

Papa Kalaignar has apparently told him that he must either take his duties as a minister seriously or stay away from politics altogether. The underlying message to Alagiri is that he will no more dabble in politics at the state level which is the domain of his younger brother, M. K. Stalin.

Last week, Alagiri sought and got permission from the Prime Minister’s Office for a fortnight’s leave to take his mother, Dayalu Ammal, to the US for medical treatment. Alagiri will be off in the first week of July and will return well before the Parliament’s monsoon session begins.
That will give him enough time to brush up on Rapid English Speaking lessons that he is said to be taking. When the session starts on July 26, we may be in a for a surprise: a dapper Alagiri, shedding his trademark mundu- shirt for a safari suit and replying to questions in Queen’s English.

THE second extension that K. M. Chandrashekhar got as cabinet secretary last month was said to be due to the need for continuity in view of the Commonwealth Games that Delhi is to host in October. But with tales of shady deals going on at the Organising Committee( OC), he is said to be having second thoughts on the extension. There is nothing that happens in the OC without someone being on the take and if a few upright ones decide to spill the beans, it would take nothing less than a joint parliamentary committee to unearth the magnitude of the plunder.

Recently, the CabSec himself had to intervene after the secretary in the ministry of sports accused the Delhi Police of forcibly taking away food packets meant for officials at the test events in archery, wrestling, boxing and tennis.

Special commissioner of the Delhi Police Neeraj Kumar was incensed. He refuted the charges saying the police had organised food for its force on duty at Rs 25 per packet and threw the ball right back at the OC by offering to pay the shortfall if the OC produced bills to show exactly how much it had paid the caterers.

This is just loose change. My hunch is that the gigantic scale of this ConWealth Games will emerge only after the event is over. A. Raja will then look like a saint.