by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group
Rahul to hold Open Darbars
The Congress president, Rahul Gandhi, may follow the foot steps of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv to directly connect with party workers and common man. It transpires that Rahul Gandhi's new team of advisers has impressed upon him to spend at least three days a week at the party headquarters 24 Akbar Road whenever in Delhi. While one day will be exclusively earmarked for party workers and common man, the second day will be to interact with office bearers and frontal organisations. The leaders from states will also be given fixed day for interaction with the Congress president. It will be like an Rahul's “open darbar”. The big drawback in the Congress leadership for long had been that neither Sonia Gandhi and nor Dr Manmohan Singh hold such “Open Darbars” for security reasons. But Rahul Gandhi has decided to disregard these concerns expressed by the Special Protection Group (SPG) and conveyed that he would like to mingle with the people freely and hear them out. Rahul Gandhi wants to break the shackles of protocol and norms in the days to come. If sources are to be believed, he will start this practice from early next month.
Modi Govt. derails Rahul plan, issues eviction notice
Rahul Gandhi may be contemplating to hold “open Darbars” at 24 Akbar Road from February. But the Modi government has other plans in store and wants to oust the party from its 24 Akbar Road headquarters and other buildings within the next three months. The Cabinet Committee on Accommodation (CCA) has served the final notice to AICC to vacate government two bungalows and also 5 Raisina Road accommodation occupied by the Youth Congress. The notice also includes vacating a residential house in Chankyapuri. The AICC has been occupying these type VIII bungalows since 1976. The CCA's reminded that first notice was given in 2015 and several extensions have been given after the Supreme Court issued eviction orders to all political parties from the Lutyen's Bungalow Zone area. All National political parties including the Congress, BJP, BSP and others have been given alternative places to construct their own party headquarters. The Congress had also been allotted two-acre plot at Kotla Road and construction also began there. But the construction work is progressing at a snail pace. Now the Modi government is determined to oust the AICC at the earliest. The Congress has explained that the completion of building at Kotla Road will take one more year. The Urban Development Ministry is determined to get 26 Akbar Road bungalow given to Congress Deva Dal and 5 Raisina Road bungalow given to Indian Youth Congress vacated immediately and asked why hefty fine be not imposed for not vacating.. The Cabinet Committee on Accommodation consists of Union Ministers; Rajnath Singh Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari,Ananth Kumar and Hardeep Puri.
State-of-the-art BJP headquarters ready
Contrary to the AICC which ruled the country for ten consecutive years and failed to construct its headquarters, the BJP president, Amit Shah did a miracle of sort. He has finished the task in less than a year and the new party headquarters at the Deen Dayal Marg near Raouse Avenue is ready for occupation. Shah is determined to vacate the 11 Ashok Road headquarters any time in February when the PM inaugurates the 5-7 floor state-of-the-art building. The building will have 70 rooms-- 45 for leaders and 25 for workers. The 8000 sq meter building which smaller than what was allotted to the Congress, will have a library having 4000 e-books and 5000 on the shelf. A war room on the top floor will be fitted with satlites and connected to all district headquarters. Though a helipad is also being readied on top of the building. But there is nobody to confirm it. The building will have ten high speed lifts and an underground parking facility for 200 cars.
Padma awards; Modi style
Ever since Modi donned the Mantle, the Padma awards have undergone a sea-change. Gone are the days when Governors, Union Ministers and ruling party top leaders used to call the shots. Privately, all of them have been told not to send letters of recommendation favouring persons of their choice. A platform has been created on the website of the Union Home Ministry with detailed parameters to be followed. The names recommended by the high powered committee in this regard were lying on the Prime Minister's table when he left for Davos. Though he landed on January 23 evening, he found no time to look at the names. Reason is that PMO is scrutinizing through its own network these recommendations. If sources are to be believed, the PM did not heed to the recommendations of former President Pranab Mukherjee to award Padam Bhushan to a leading doctor with a private hospital. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Puducherry Governor Kiran Bedi and three other top Union Ministers also met the same fate. Realising that they face humiliation last year, hardly any senior minister has recommended Padma this year directly. By the way, any citizen is free to recommend anybody for Padma award through the MHA website.
Who is PM's most favourite bureaucrat?
If you think Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia is Modi's most favourite bureaucrat you may perhaps be wrong. Adhia is a Gujrati and Gujrat cadre IAS officer. But he would have been secretary in any case due to his seniority in the government. The favour will come when he dons the mantle of Cabinet Secretary. Its a different matter that even here, he will be senior-most secretary in the government. But the Prime Minister surprised the entire bureaucracy when another extension in service was given to Parameswaran Iyer, as Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. Iyer was brought from retirement and appointed full secretary for two years by Modi. This was unprecedented as retired bureaucrats are brought in service as advisers/consultants etc. It was expected that Iyer will retire after completing two years. But in another rare decision, Modi gave him one more extension until 30.04.2019.