Monday, January 25, 2010

Seedhi Baat / Aajtak, January 24, 2010

CWG on time, assures Kalmadi

Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi on the show Seedhi Baat says that the Commonwealth Games will be organised properly and on time.
Part 2 ; Part 3 ; Part 4

Power & Politics / Mail Today, January 25, 2010

WHEN the going gets tough, the tough get going, goes the saying. The UPA government seems to have total and implicit faith in this adage. The appointment of the former national security advisor MK Narayanan as the new Governor of West Bengal, coming so soon after Naraian Dutt Tewari was summarily packed off from Hyderabad for indulging in activities not generally associated with occupants of Raj Bhavans— least of all 86 year olds— leads me to just one conclusion.

This government is not going to allow governors to treat the Raj Bhavans as farmhouses in the city centre for fun and frolic and rest and recreation. For a change, it is telling them: take your jobs seriously, or here is the pink slip. In these columns a couple of weeks ago, I had written about how successive governments at the Centre had reserved the gubernatorial jobs for over- the- hill politicians who remained content being mere rubber stamps or agents of the ruling party at the Centre.
In the last fortnight, the government appointed or transferred eight governors. Four of them took the oath of office on Friday and the rest are scheduled to do so soon after the Republic Day formalities are done with. Of the 28 incumbents, politicians with 16, not surprisingly form the majority. There are four retired IAS officers: former home secretary NN Vohra in Srinagar, retired Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt in Chattisgarh, former civil aviation secretary SS Sidhu in Goa, and former Home Secretary BP Singh in Sikkim. Two more are former army men: Retd General JJ Singh and retd Lt Gen MM Lakhera. The rest are, you may have guessed, all retired police officers.

Never in history have six ex- police officers occupied the post of governors at the same time. And the fact that all six, whose efficiency is beyond question and integrity beyond reproach, are in charge of sensitive states is probably an indication that the government truly believes that when the going gets tough, you really have to get the tough going. Narayanan, an IPS officer, former chief of the Intelligence Bureau and the NSA, is now in West Bengal where Mamata Banerjee is not the only threat to law and order. When the Telangana strife began, the centre showed the door to ND Tiwari and asked ESL Narasimhan, then governor of Chattisgarh, to hold concurrent charge of Andhra Pradesh.
Narasimhan now has been confirmed as the governor of the state, his old post in Raipur going to retired IAS officer Shekhar Dutt. Narasimhan is a 1968 batch IPS officer and, hailing as he does, from the Andhra cadre, there is no one better suited than him to understand, evaluate and tackle the situation in the state which, if handled without some amount of Narasimhan deftness, could turn into an inferno.

Ex Army man JJ Singh was Director General at the Military Operations Directorate. The Chinese fear none, but it still makes sense to have him as the governor of Arunachal Pradesh where Beijing loves to poke its nose. Nikhil Kumar, Gurbachan Jagat and RS Mooshahary have all had distinguished careers in police forces in different states and are posted in similarly crucial North east stations while the services of BL Joshi, who joined the police in 1957 and has had long stints working with Interpol, Narcotics and Internal Security is just what lawless Uttar Pradesh needs.

These are proven people in sensitive posts. Take them away and who are you left with? The old style politicians whose utility dates in that rough and tumble world is long expired and who are now being used as agents and political rubber stamps in states where the threat is not to the centre, but the ruling party at the centre. This is not to suggest that none of the 16 political appointees deserve to be in their Raj Bhavans. They were all posted as governors because they had reached the sunset of their political careers. As career politicians, they can at best play backroom politics to aid their benefactors at the centre. It is challenge that bring out the best in man. And as these increase by the day, I believe that this government — and those that follow— will think of men and women with proven administrative skills for the Raj Bhavan jobs. Governors should be made of such mettle.

Snippets/ Mail Today, January 25, 2010

Mulayam’s support base set to shrink

MORE and more, the Samajwadi Party is beginning to look like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland . The leadership’s grin remains intact, but everything else has fallen apart or disappeared. The last couple of years have been forgettable for Mulayam Singh Yadav electorally and as the party now begins to resemble a family run fiefdom, the downhill slide has picked up speed. The death last week of the affable Janeswar Mishra, the Brahmin face of the SP, comes close on the heels of the palace coup in Etawah that saw the departure of Amar Singh. With both the Brahmin and Thakur leaders out of the party, its impact is being assessed. Now Mulayam has the daunting task of wooing or retaining the few Rajputs and Brahmins left in the SP. Amar’s departure just three days before the council elections created enough confusion among the higher and middle level leaders of the SP. The party had fielded only five candidates in 36 seats and managed to win just one.

Rajputs are particularly angry because Amar Singh was not only one among them but also the only leader with nationwide visibility that the party had; the rest were at best, constituency- level leaders who had no say in the party affairs. With his cross party friends and vast business and other contacts, Amar Singh had given the one- state party a reach beyond the borders of Uttar Pradesh.

During the Mulayam regime in 2003- 07 period, there were violent Yadav- Thakur clashes in eastern UP and when the police seemed to be working in tandem with the Yadavs, it was he who raised the issue with Mulayam and restored order. The SP currently has 14 Rajput MLAs in the assembly, three in the council and four Rajput MPs. Insiders tell me many of them are beginning to feel “ uncomfortable” in the SP as they fear they will be targeted for being “ Amar Singh's men”. With the SP firmly in the grip of Mulayam, brothers Shivpal and Ram Gopal and son Akhilesh, its next poll slogan may well be “ I Me, Mine”.

FOR years, Sharad Pawar’s reputation as one of the country’s efficient administrators has preceded him. But with prices going through the roof despite robust agricultural growth and record procurement, they are all targeting one man: the Agriculture Minister. His reputation as an efficient Minister now lies in tatters . But Pawar’s counter is this: “ I have been in politics for 50 years. This is the first time I have seen that price rise is being linked only to the Agriculture Ministry”.

He is intrigued why nobody is pointing fingers at the railway ministry which, because of fog over north India, has put restrictions on movement of goods trains because of which prices of everyday goods as well as materials like steel and cement have risen sharply.

Pawar feels that he is a victim of internal politics of the Congress which incidentally has not defended the minister on this issue. He is even upset about rumours over his health allegedly being promoted from certain Congress quarters. Recently, he excused himself from a cabinet meeting after his agenda was gone because of a bad toothache. That was enough for the rumours to swirl again. His followers want him to hit back, but the man swears by collective responsibility. So I know he won’t.

Why did Mamata miss the funeral?
MAMATA Banerjee’s penchant for theatricals is legendary but I am sure even the most ardent of her Trinamool supporters have been left red faced by her antics at the funeral of the Marxist veteran Jyoti Basu last week. A funeral is an occasion when even sworn enemies gather in silence and maybe keep a safe and dignified distance. Everyone knows that Mamata views a communist in the same manner that a bull looks at a red rag.

But someone ought to tell the lady that her responsibilities as a minister in the union government far outweigh the irresponsibility that come with being leader of the Trinamool Congress. Reports have it that she boycotted the funeral because she believed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was cosying up to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the man she hopes to replace at Writers Building after the assembly elections next year.
It was nothing of the sort. Protocol dictates that when the prime minister visits a state, the local chief minister must be present at all public functions. The two may have done nothing more than exchange pleasantries, but conspiracy buffs in the Trinamool seem to have convinced Mamata that they were hatching something. It now appears that the real reason was something else.

Rumours doing the rounds suggest Mamata wanted to accompany Sonia Gandhi in her car for the funeral but the elite Special Protection Group would have nothing of it. Mamata is then said to have demanded that she be allowed to travel in one of the many cars that formed the SPG convoy but was politely told by an officer that the rulebook did not allow such free rides. She is then said to have had a running verbal feud with the leader of the commando group before finally walking away in a huff, but not before accusing the SPG of trying to keep her away from Sonia. In the months to come, Mamata can be expected to spin many such conspiracy theories that will fascinate Bengalis, at least until the assembly elections next year.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Power & Politics / Mail Today, January 18, 2010

SOMEONE once said that Ministers of State were “ nobodies” because their only job was to reply to questions in Parliament that did not call for a verbal answer: the “ unstarred” questions which are on paper and whose answers also come written and are merely placed on the table of the house. In the good old days of single party governance and rule by a supreme leader, junior ministers, as they are called, were handed these jobs with a that’s- all- you- deserve attitude.

Most of them took the jobs and spent the next five years doing nothing. There were exceptions of course: as minister of state for Internal Security in the Narasimha Rao government, Rajesh Pilot was the de facto Home Minister and an effective one at that.
Madhavrao Scindia did such an excellent job as junior minister in Railways that his elevation to cabinet status was just a matter of time and he later went on to do commendable work in the Civil Aviation and Communication portfolios. The same alas cannot be said of the sons of these two Congress stars who sadly are no more with us. Sachin Pilot is MoS in the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and Jyotidaritya Scindia is the MoS for Commerce and Industry. Both are incredibly gifted young men but unfortunately they are not being used to their full potential.
Sachin and Scindia are just two of the 38 ministers of state, almost all of whom feel they are being shortchanged or not used properly by the prime minister. The Manmohan Singh council of ministers is 78 strong, the largest in the country’s history. There are 33 cabinet ministers including the prime minister; seven MOS hold independent charge who pretty much function as full fledged cabinet ministers and are more or less free to dictate policy in the manner they deem fit. But for the 38 ministers of state, work mostly revolves around inaugurating a youth festival that the senior minister doesn’t have time for, or to be the minister in waiting when the president of Burkina Faso or some such place is on a state visit. This can be frustrating and the juniors have for long jostled for more but forever have been denied.

The problem is confounded in a multi party alliance like the UPA where ministers belong to different parties and the senior has such a vice like grip on the entire ministry that his junior may as well stay back at his palatial bungalow ( yes, they have that at least) in Lutyens Delhi and assist the wife in tending to the kitchen garden. That is why a lot of juniors are pinning much hope on the meeting that Manmohan Singh has convened on January 19 where all 38 junior ministers and seven ministers with independent charge have been invited. This is the first such meet- Sachin Pilot ing during UPA II and I have no doubt that some of the more ebullient juniors will have a lot to tell Manmohan Singh. Don’t be surprised if some of the seniors have already asked their secretaries to invent perfect alibis to deflect all charges and accusations.

But what happens between the two sides is less important than the collapse of some fundamentals that have brought things to such a pass. There is the collapse of collective responsibility and the blame belongs to both. At one end, a Shashi Tharoor comes along and tweets his way through office, making statements that go against established policies. On the other hand, there are ministers with nothing to say. There are ministries in which virtually no work gets done because the senior ministers are mostly absent, politicking in their home states, yet do not hand over even the smallest of responsibilities to their juniors. In this, the DMK and the Trinamool ministers are the worst offenders. Ministerial truancy has attained such heights that only 13 of the 33 senior ministers attended the last Cabinet meeting convened by the prime minister. And if ministers are truant, can MPs be expected to be any different?
That explains why during the last session of Parliament, the Lok Sabha had to be adjourned twice for lack of quorum. There is a lesson in this. Give the committed and efficient junior ministers their due. Make the likes of Sachin and Scindia cabinet ministers. Give them complete charge of their departments. They will deliver. And inspire their seniors and fellow MPs to work harder and similarly deliver.

Snippets /Mail Today, January 18, 2010

Gadkari’s wings could be clipped next month
NITIN Gadkari’s stint as the BJP president is less than a month old, but there are already indications that things are not going exactly to the plan. The new chief had promised that his priority was to bring the BJP to a stage where it would once again be seen as a threat to the ruling Congress, but from what’s going on within the party, it appears that Gadkari will, like his predecessor Rajnath Singh, be busy fobbing off enemies within leaving him little time to take on the Congress. Though settled in office, Gadkari still has not been able to name his team of office bearers.

And if amendments to the party constitution, recommended by the Bal Apte committee appointed by the outgoing chief Rajnath Singh are an indication, the prerogative to choose his team will no longer be his. If adopted, the amendments will drastically prune the president’s powers and ensure that Gadkari does not enjoy the undiluted powers that giants like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani did. The proposed amendments include handing over powers to the party’s central parliamentary board to overrule decisions made by the president and curb his powers to select his own team of office bearers and national executive.

And for the first time in its 28 year old history, the party has also proposed that procedures be put in place to remove the party chief midway through his term. The BJP national council meeting scheduled in Indore in February will discuss these and other amendments and if passed, Gadkari will come out of the council meeting a much sadder man than when he went in.

Needless to say, the cabal that has run the party for the last few years and dragged it down from its preeminent position will be very very relieved that their powers remain intact.

WE have seen politicians turned ministers pampering their constituencies. Long before Mamata Banerjee became Railway Minister and showered every possible gift on West Bengal, her many predecessors in Rail Bhavan located coach factories, sanctioned new lines and started new trains in their states and proved the adage that the heart is where the home is.
But SM Krishna and Prerneet Kaur, who also holds charge of passports, are taking pampering to new heights. Come February 1, those seeking passports from the regional offices in Bangalore and Chandigarh will no longer have to endure long waits to lay their hands on the document. They will get their passports within three days, thanks to the extra care that the minister for External Affairs and his deputy have for their own states. It’s a kind of super Tatkal scheme, except that you don’t have to pay the extra fee of Rs 1500 in addition to the passport charges of Rs 1000.

Which makes me wonder why Shashi Tharoor hasn’t joined the bandwagon. Despite having four offices, the queues outside passport centres in tiny Kerala are the longest. The minister should give it a thought. He is known to have his way and if he can assure Mallus who are forever queuing to go to Dubai— damn the recession— in 2014 he can ensure victory not only from cosmopolitan Trivandrum but even backward Malappuram.

M K Narayanan is the fall guy
AS National Security Advisor, MK Narayanan has been one of the most powerful persons in the UPA. So what is one to make of the sudden decision of the government to move him out to the Kolkata Raj Bhavan where Gopal Gandhi has put in his papers? The governor mansions across the country, as we well know, are exclusive retiring homes for the faithful and Narayanan, dependable and devoted as he was, had a lot left in him to serve the government in the demanding job as NSA.
Obviously, there are powerful lobbies who don’t share the prime minister’s views about Narayanan’s priorities as an officer. His drives for transparency in defence deals, seeking the sources of foreign investment have earned him the wrath of the powerful defence, corporate and foreign lobbies. Diplomats have never tried to hide their animosity towards him. And that’s what leads me to believe that his transfer is only the first in a series of shakeups that will take place in the next few months. Someone— and it’s not the prime minister— is chanting the mantra ‘ perform or perish’.
South Block is crammed with too many post- retirement appointees and a few who have been given service extensions. After more than seven months of UPA II, many of them are yet to justify their continued stay in office. Food prices are zooming upwards and we have one of the prime minister’s closest economic advisors comforting us every fortnight that everything will be fine within the next. The reality is different because by the next fortnight, prices have gone through the roof, yet with barefaced cheek, they assure us yet again that one more fortnight is all it will take for normalcy.

It’s the same set of people who wax eloquent from high tables in foreign capitals about 8 percent growth when the Right to Food Act and the Right to Education Act cannot be implemented because there is no money in the treasury. Yet, they are on the lookout for fall guys. They found one in Narayanan. I see a purge happening in the near future.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Power & Politics/ Mail Today, January 11, 2010

I ’ LL PUT it as diplomatically as possible. At the best of times, our foreign office has been a bundle of contradictions. Warring ministers, mandarins working at cross purposes and lesser minions have carried on their many private battles for so long that disorder and chaos have become the hallmark of South Block. And now, us confused desis are confounded by the contradictory statements emanating from the ministry of external affairs. For once, Shashi Tharoor is absolved of any misdemeanour though he continues to keep the twittering classes engrossed with daily 140 character outpourings.

A Fulbright scholar, former chief minister and governor, S. M. Krishna is probably more qualified than anyone else in the current UPA dispensation to head the sensitive external affairs ministry. But perhaps, caught short of breath after another round of sparring over visa norms with his much younger ministerial colleague, the 78- year- old’s reflexes seem to be failing him. The official dithering that followed the killing of a 21- year- old Delhi boy in Melbourne led to much hype being built in the media, especially in TV studios where one anchor just stopped short of suggesting that India should dispatch the INS Viraat to the southern ocean to teach the Aussies a lesson.

For a full two days after young Nitin Garg was fatally stabbed, the minister’s sole response to persistent questioning was “ I can comment only after getting first hand information from our high commissioner”. In New Delhi’s refusal to comment, the Australians saw an opportunity. Its officials were so much in denial that they had the word “ insensitivity” written all over their faces.

Foreign minister Simon Crean said “ such incidents happen not only in Melbourne but in Mumbai and Delhi too”. God forbid such a thing happening, but if an Australian girl gets mugged or worse on the beaches of Goa, will Krishna turn around and tell Crean that “ such incidents happen on Bondi Beach also”. No.

The Australian high commissioner in New Delhi, the Indianorigin Peter Varghese’s credentials as a diplomat should be questioned for his public display of impotence for saying that his government “ will not be able to give any guarantee that such crimes can be stopped”. Perhaps the most sensible statement to emerge out of this dirty and continuing tit- for- tat came from our foreign minister. “ One can understand Indian students going to Australia at the university level, at the IIT level or other institutions of excellence, but when I went there I was shocked to see so many students attending courses in hairstyling and doing facials”. A friend of mine who did a stint at our mission in Canberra some time back told me precisely this a few months ago when the attacks on Indians first began.
According to him, four out of five Indian students pay through their noses and go through immigration agents to get into courses which have absolutely no value in India which makes it imperative that they work hard doing extra hours to recover the huge amounts they spent.
Besides, foreign students pay nearly four times the fees that locals pay, are denied the concessions that Australian students get on trains, trams, buses and for other public utilities. Indian students Down Under are promised fabulous job opportunities by their agents back home, but they arrive in Australia and find it tough to get even a part- time job that would take care of fees and rent. Even the fate of some who get into elite institutions is no different. He has seen Indian girls pursuing masters from the University of Technology doing catering jobs in the suburbs, while girls from some of the South- East Asian countries choose to make money working in brothels and massage parlours.

For decades, the best and the brightest from India went to America in search of a better future. Today, the three million Americans of Indian origin not only have the highest education levels but also the highest annual median earnings among all nationalities. You can’t expect a country that until as recently as three decades ago practised the White Australia Policy, fearing that non- whites would swarm the place and take all their jobs, to be equally welcoming.

Minister Krishna’s advice to parents whose children were eager to go abroad was: be discriminating in the courses you choose. My advice to the young ones is: there are enough colleges here where you can get a good degree even as you join the radicals in shouting down the US of A. But if you have to go abroad, call Uncle Sam. He will look after you well.

Seedhi Baat/ Aajtak, January 10, 2010

'Raju, Vidhu & I are real idiots'

Actor Aamir Khan on the show Seedhi Baat says that the message behind 3 Idiots, his life philosophy and why he likes to make theme-based movies.
Part 2


Snippets / Mail Today, January 11, 2010

Getting a measure of the J& K issue
LIKE MOST politicians, P. Chidambaram loves to talk, but it must be said to the home minister’s credit that he is a rare politician whose actions speak louder than his words. He speaks tough, acts even tougher and it came as no surprise that after he replaced the narcissistic Shivraj Patil in North Block in the aftermath of 26/ 11, the country saw no terror attacks on its soil for nearly 13 months.

It was he, in cahoots with defence minister A. K. Antony who began the scaling down of the army’s presence in Kashmir where almost 30,000 troops have been pulled out over the past few months and more are being gradually withdrawn to enable the state police to take over the task of manning law and order. The long tranquil spell was broken after the two- day- long fidayeen attack in Srinagar last week and the questions now being asked are: have the terrorists begun regrouping? If so, will the government continue with the withdrawal of the forces? True, the terrorists cocked a snook at the Centre’s scaling down policy with their brazen attack, but if Chidambaram’s response is any indication, troop withdrawals will go on as scheduled.
National security adviser M. K. Narayanan too appears confident that the process of troop reduction can and will continue. And Chidambaram’s statement, issued last Friday, should end all speculation about any possible policy reversal. “ The alert J& K Police… neutralised the militants without suffering any casualties and evacuated 600 citizens to safety.

It is noteworthy that the state police and the CRPF conducted the operation without calling upon the National Security Guards or the Army Special Forces”. Chidambaram seems to subscribe to the view that, bereft of the popular support they once had, the terrorists will pop up once a while just to remind everyone that they are not finished yet.

Government wants to teach old dogs some new tricks
IF THE UPA government has its way, bureaucrats across the country will be encouraged to get back to the classrooms and learn a whole lot of new skills. This is part of the prime minister’s plans to bring babudom more in tune with the government’s policies vis- a- vis the internal situation in the country as well as global trends. As a first step, cabinet secretary K. M. Chandrashekhar has invited chief secretaries of all states for a two- day conference to which all union ministers have also been invited.

A senior bureaucrat admits that in the federal set up that we have in place, state governments should be more concerned about local issues, but emphasised that in a fast changing world, it as imperative that the states also have a vision that encompasses national as well as international issues. The conference scheduled for February 1 and 2 will be a first of sorts in many respects.

Apart from the mandatory speeches by the prime minister and the Cab Sec, there will be presentations by the chiefs of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Defence Research and Development Organisation and other scientific institutions on latest trends in technology that could be of use to specific states; an address by foreign secretary Nirupama Rao on “ Emerging Global Challenges and Opportunities”, a presentation of International Trade Outlook by commerce secretary Nandan Nilekani will brief the officers on the Unique Identity Card mission and Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh will present a paper on climate change.
Given the security environment across the country where no state, big or small is left untouched by agents of terror, it is not surprising that the government believes that babus from the states should also be given lessons on key security concerns.

For the first time ever, the army, air force and naval chiefs will directly address state- level bureaucrats on the security environment and the role that the state governments must necessarily play to supplement the Centre’s efforts. Hopefully, the back- to- the basics approach will yield dividends.

DELHIITES have in recent times seen the high- tech low- floor buses periodically go up in flames in many parts of the city and chief minister Sheila Dikshit has asked the manufacturers to rectify the faults or be ready to pay heavy damages. Something similar is happening in Tamil Nadu, the difference being that the private vehicles that are turning into fireballs are all owned by politicians, belonging to the AIADMK, the Congress, the CPI and the CPM. Last week, the AIADMK’s Rajya Sabha MP V. Maitreyan lodged a police complaint after his car was found burnt long past midnight. After an inquiry that lasted exactly two days, the state police submitted a report that put the blame on a battery short circuit.

Former Union minister EVKS Elangovan and CPI state secretary Tha Pandian were two other leaders whose cars mysteriously caught fire when no one was watching. The police were swift in conducting inquiries and even swifter in reaching conclusions: battery short circuit. Opposition leaders are now planning to petition governor S. S. Barnala to hold an impartial inquiry into these incidents, but bound as the governor is by the state government’s advice, his report may not differ much from that of the state police. Maitreyan at least has the satisfaction of the Rajya Sabha chairman — the country’s Vice- President — seeking a detailed report on the torching of the car of a member of the Upper House.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Power & Politics / Mail Today, January 04, 2010

THE job of governor has always been seen as a sinecure. Over- the- hill politicians who needed to be “ accommodated” were dispatched to Raj Bhavans across the country where at best, they were content being mere rubber stamps, at worst, agents for the ruling party at the Centre. Long before Narain Dutt Tiwari came along, most of us knew that the salubrious environments of the gubernatorial estates can make even workaholics lazy. Of course it was Tiwari who showed us how really laid- back the job was. When large parts of Andhra Pradesh burnt over Telangana, Tiwari was busy quelling the fire within his 86 year old frame.

Tiwari is the rule, but there are exceptions.
Years ago, there was Garry Saxena, the former RAW chief who had two stints as governor of the troubled Jammu and Kashmir in the 1990s. His role in reviving the government machinery when insurgency was at its peak in the state can’t be minimised. It is perhaps no coincidence that the most proactive governor now is another retired IPS officer, ESL Narasimhan, the former IB chief and governor of Chattisgarh. Last week, I had written about Narasimhan creating a history of sorts when he asked the Centre to restrain home minister P. Chidambaram from visiting the Naxal- hit districts of Chhattisgarh.

After Tiwari quit the Hyderabad Raj Bhavan in shame, Narasimhan was concurrently assigned the Hyderabad job and in less than a week, the results are there for all to see. Last week, the Centre summoned him to Delhi for consultations. This has raised eyebrows since, when a state government is in office, it is the chief minister that New Delhi interacts with. The call to Narasimhan is a sure sign that the Centre thinks he has started well. Repulsive as their efforts were, the TV channel that did a sting operation on Tiwari’s alleged romp may have done the people of Andhra Pradesh a favour by forcing him to quit.

There is no better replacement than Narasimhan who has got the confidence of 10 Janpath and shares a good rapport with the national security advisor M. K. Narayanan. Narasimhan got down to work right away, and spent New Year’s Eve not in Raipur but in Hyderabad. In less than a week that he has been in charge, the stand- in governor has initiated a series of measures that have raised confidence levels in the ruling establishment.

On his first day at work, he met with a cross section of the political leaders in Hyderabad. Shortly after he met the TRS’s Chandrasekhar Rao, Narasimhan spoke to Narayanan, the Prime Minister’s secretary TKA Nair and home secretary G. K. Pillai. The feed- ESL Narasimhan back from him was in line with the initiatives that the Centre had in mind for the state. As far as creation of the new Telangana state was concerned, his advice was that “ nothing need be done in a hurry”. Another document marked “ Top Secret” dispatched to New Delhi last Wednesday had detailed minutes of his interactions with leaders of 14 political parties in the state ranging from the Congress, the TDP, the Left and the BJP besides details of his meetings with chief minister K Rosiah and members of his cabinet. He made independent assessments of the likely impact that the impending bandh called by opposition parties would have on various parts of the state.

The Joint Director of IB posted in Hyderabad was asked to send twice daily reports on the law and order situation, especially the safety and security of the many central government installations spread across the state. His impeccable credentials as an officer give him the right to pick up his mobile phone and talk directly to the Home Minister and senior officials in the PMO as well as summon senior Central and state officials for discussions.

The lure of a long stint in the Raj Bhavan is too irresistible for politicians whose best days are behind them. Andhra Pradesh has shown that a governor’s job is not a time- pass occupation. In the few days he has been in charge, Narasimhan has already made a difference. There is a moral in this. If a pesky retired politician has to be accommodated, give him a PSU chairmanship or some such thing.

The company will already have been milked so dry, there will be nothing left to be lost.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Seedhi Baat / Aajtak, January 03, 2010

नहीं: गड़करी

आज तक के खास कार्यक्रम सीधी बात में भारतीय जनता पार्टी के नवनिर्वाचित अध्‍यक्ष नितिन गडकरी ने अपनी प्राथमिकताओं और अपनी सोच के बारे में बताया.