Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What is paralyzing the govt. !

Fly on the Wall
Assam is a typical example of  how functioning of the government has been paralyzed.  When Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi went public blasting the Centre for delay in deploying the army in troubled areas, the Centre did not censure him. But tried to pacify him. Why ? The armed forces deployment was sought on July 23. The local commander wanted written orders from Chief of the Army Staff who looked towards the Defence Ministry. Everybody wanted orders in writing, nothing oral about it. A K Antony, as usual, took his own sweet time as files kept juggling. Finally, when the forces were deployed, the damage was already done. The reason for delay was that various high courts and Supreme Court had passed certain orders relating to deployment of armed forces in the communal riots and they needed to be studied. Hence, the delay. Can anyone be held responsible ?

Anand Sharma is also up set ?

Why blame former Union Minister Virbhadra Singh for being angry with the party high command for being left out from the Congress screening committee of Himachal Pradesh. Even blue-eyed boy of the party Commerce, Industries and Textiles Minister Anand Sharma was up set. So miffed was Anand Sharma that he quietly left for London.  A word was also spread that he had been deputed on an official mission to London. But the fact is that he is equally peeved for being ignored. As chairman of the manifesto committee his role will be over immediately after it is released.  The past experience has been that once the screening committee clears the list of candidates,  it rarely undergoes a major change. The party high command’s problem is that if Raja and Anand are included in the screening committee, how could other senior leaders be left out.

Bihar, Bengal to felicitate President Pranab ?

The President, Pranab Mukherjee is extremely busy finalizing his tour program as invitations are pouring in.  Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar,  who had backed Mukherjee’s candidature,  wants him to visit Bihar first so that he is able to pay his respect to the first President Rajendra Prasad Memorial also. Mukherjee is also keen that a massive public function is held in his honour- as he is the first Bengali to be elected as President – by the Mamata Banerjee government.  Mukherjee himself is keen to play host to a grand Iftaar party at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. This will be his public function at the Rashtrapati Bhawan to be attended by numerous diplomats from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa.  Another invitation that has piqued Mukherjee’s interests is an invitation from London to attend the closing ceremony of the Olympics games and a gala dinner at the Buckingham Palace. No decision, however, has been taken so far.

First Yadav on Face Book, Twitter

Who says Yadavs are backwards and not familiar with technology ? NDA convener and JD (U) President Sharad Yadav is now a regular on Face Book and Twitter. He is amongst the first of the three Yadav leaders – Mulyam Singh and  Lalu Yadav to open a FB account. And quite regular too.

CBI on case closing spree

Before winding up after two years stint as CBI director and lodging FIRs and chargesheets against high and mighty, A P Singh is now taking a U-turn.  If the mandarins in CGO Complex are to be believed, the latest  beneficiary of CBI’s correct or soft approach will be Suresh Kalmadi. The CBI may close one case against him with regard to the Queen’ Baton. This was the first case registered against Kalmadi and company for favouring a London-based company.  Lately, the CBI decided to close several cases including Medical Council of India chief Ketan Desai and Dental Council Chief A K Kohli. Now the CBI is explaining that these persons were booked at the instance of the Heath Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.  The case against LIC chief has also been thrown into the dustbin. But the purpose of the government has been served as he was denied another 5-year term despite his excellent performance. The hi-fi case against Mayawati has been thrown out by Supreme Court itself after nine years.

New axis in the BJP emerging

A new axis in the BJP is clearly emerging. While one group is led by BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, Gujrat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and Chief Spokesman Ravi Shanker Prasad,  the other group comprises of L K Advani, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj,  Jaswant Singh and Ananth Kumar. Other senior leaders like Murli Manmohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha, Rajnath Singh keep moving as the issues come by.  The RSS has clearly signaled to Advani that it is with Narendra Modi irrespective some reservations about him. Jaitley is trying hard to keep the BJP’s Chief Ministers and local satraps with him and the trouble-shooter of the BJP.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pawar-Patel boycott UPA meet, A new crisis emerges

PM removes names of own Cabinet Ministers from his website
A big political crisis has engulfed the UPA today with Nationalist Congress Party leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel boycotting its meeting this evening at the Prime Minister’s residence to chose Vice Presidential candidate.

The boycott of the NCP leaders shocked political circles as Pawar had lately being considered as the new trouble-shooter of the UPA after Pranab Mukherjee’s elevation as Presidential candidate.

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel stay put in Mumbai today. Efforts to contact Sharad Pawar yielded no results. But Praful Patel confirmed that he did not attend the meeting due to “pre-occupation.”  When asked why Pawar did not attend, he declined to say anything.

Sources say that Pawar is extremely unhappy with the UPA leadership over the question of who should be Number two in the government. While his name appeared immediately after the Prime Minister’s name in the official website of the PMO after Pranab Mukherjee demitted office on June 26 as Finance Minister, later Defence Minister A K Antony set next to the PM at the Cabinet meeting.

Suddenly, the list of Cabinet Ministers vanished from the PM’s own website. “The PM himself removed the list from his website of Cabinet Ministers. Surely, he may be re-assessing the order in which names are to be listed,” said a senior minister close to the developments.

But the crisis is far from over. While the boycott of Pawar is understood to be not linked to the issue of Dr Hamid Ansari being given the second term.
The crisis is really bigger for the UPA on the issue of hierarchy.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Honey-trapped son causes flutter in Himachal Congress

After the exit of Virbhadra Singh from the Union Cabinet on the "bribery CD" charge, it is another incident that is giving sleepless nights to the beleaguered Congress leadership in himachal pradesh. The latest  "honeytrap" case involving a lieutenant colonel of Indian armed forces with a bangladeshi has rocked the hilly state.

Reason: the young Lieutenant colonel is the son of Dr D R Shandil who is a senior himachal Pradesh Congress leader. He is a former Member of the Lok Sabha from Shimla and was inducted  to the Congress working committee also.

The party leaders are aghast at the turn of events and down-playing the incident saying that it is not a case of espionage for pakistan or its agency ISI. At best its a case of interacting with a Bangladeshi woman on the Face Book. But lips of everybody are sealed.

Efforts to contact Dr Shandil on his mobile and land line numbers in Delhi ended in vein. But he neither picked his mobile and nobody answered his residence line either. The official website of the AICC reveals that Dr Shandil stays at Poorvanchal in JNU campus.

Dr Shandil joined the Congress after remaining with the BJP and later joined Sukh Ram's Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC). He was made a full member of the CWC. Obviously, the party high command wanted to cut Virbhadra singh to size and promoted Shandil. But both are in the woods, at least for now. If Singh is cooling his heels out of the Cabinet due to the charges against him framed by the trial court, Shandil is at the receiving end due to the activities of his son under the top army brass.

PM moving to reverse Pranab's policy

Finally, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh made his first move to reverse the policy enunciated by his predecessor in the finance ministry, Pranab Mukherjee, with regard to General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR).

The PM, as a prelude, set up a 4-member expert panel which will submit its report by September 30. The GAAR introduced by Pranab Mukherjee in his 2012 Budget had made FIIs and investors to flee India.

This single provision brought down the markets and caused panic. Investors world over and India watchers were waiting for some relief on this account. Finally, the PMO made the first formal announcement putting the uncertainty at rest. The panel will be headed by tax expert Parthasarathi Shome.

N. Rangachary, former IRDA chairman; Sunil Gupta, joint secretary, tax policy and legislation, department of revenue, and NIPFP professor Ajay Shah will be the other members of the committee, said a release from the Prime Minister's Office.
The committee will have time till end-July to receive comments from stakeholders and the general public, and will have until August 31 to rework the guidelines based on these recommendations and submit a second draft, the release said.

"While these steps (the draft guidelines released last month) are good in themselves, a need was felt for far more widespread consultations. There is a need to have greater clarity on many other fronts. With this in view, the Prime Minister has constituted this expert committee which will bring transparency and a high degree of technical expertise to the consultation process," the release added.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mamata throws a spanner again

After attempting to block Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature for the post of President, TMC leader  Mamata Banerjee has thrown a spanner in the smooth sailing of Dr Hamid Ansari to be re-elected as Vice President.

Ansari’s name emerged during the discussions that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had with CPM leader Prakash Karat and former PM H D Deve Gowda. The allies of the Congress in the UPA and outside are also seen inclined to support Ansari.
But Mamata banerjee threw a spanner by stating the Gopal Krishan Gandhi, a grandson of the Mahatma Gandhi be fielded by the UPA for the post. He was appointed as governor of West Bengal at the behest of the Left parties. But he chose to lent his support to Mamata banerjee during the Singur agitation.

Alternatively, Mamata banerjee wanted Krishna Bose as VP who is also a close relative of late Subhash Chandra Bose.
Surprisingly, Mamata’s ally Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party did not react to her suggestion so far. But Mamata’s suggestion to make Gandhi as VP is bound to create a big political turmoil as the Left, the BJP, NDA and large sections of non-UPA parties may support him too.

Reports said Mamata is not happy with the way Ansari for the partisan role played by him as Rajya Sabha Chairman during the Lokpal debate late last year. Even the Samajwadi Party is upset with him as he had signed the motion to suspend its MPs when they created a ruckus on the Women’s reservations Bill. It was Arun Jaitley, Leader of the Opposition who opposed Hamid Ansari’s act saying that the chairman doesn’t have the power to do so. The motion has to be passed by the Rajya Sabha. The chairman can only suspend MPs. But no motion can be signed by him without the permission of the house. Ansari had to cut a sorry figure.

There is also confusion as to why PM chose to speak to Karat and Gowda while a formal discussion within the UPA ad its supporting parties on the issue is yet to take place.

Mamata’s proposal has come at a time when Pranab Mukherjee is working hard to get her support for the presidential poll.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

PM keeps 40 E-GoMs GoMs hanging, PMO Server down for 15 days

It may look bizarre. But true. The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's efforts to re-constitute almost 40 Empowered-Group of Ministers  (E-GoMs) and Group of Ministers (GoMs) after the departure of UPA's trouble-shooter Pranab Mukherjee has come a cropper. While a couple of Cabinet Committees headed by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh himself like the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs, Political Affairs and Security Affairs or Infrastructure are functional. But almost 40-odd E-GoMs and Goms are virtually defunct. The Cabinet Secretariat was quick enough to remove the entire list of these empowered group of ministers and GoMs from its website immediately after Pranab Mukherjee resigned on June 26.

Surprisingly, servers of the Cabinet Secretariat relating to this section are down and out of order since June 27. It is shocking that while every other link is functional, only three of these links are down.  

Discreet inquiries revealed that initially there was indecision whether the PM will keep the finance portfolio with himself and for how long. A senior Cabinet secretariat official admitted that the "server is partially down and the moment it is repaired, you can access the new list."
But it turned out to be the half-truth. While the entire website of the PMO and the Cabinet Secretariat are functioning, only three links are defunct. These three links deal with E-GoMs, GoMs and Cabinet Committees. When clincked the following messege came up, " Not Found. The requested URL /files/allocation/cabinet_committees.pdf was not found on this server."  Same message cropped up when you try for the list of E-GoMs and GoMs. It says, " Not Found. The requested URL /files/allocation/listofegoms.pdf was not found on this server."

Officials in the PMO maintained a complete silence on re-constituting these important committees handling important policy decisions and inter-ministerial issues.  Sources say that the Prime Minister is likely to divide the responsibility of heading these 40-odd powerful commitees among few chosen senior cabinet ministers in the absence of Pranab Mukherjee. Top sources in the UPA told that along with home minister P Chidambaram, defence minister A K antony, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, commerce minister anand sharma and telecom minister kapil sibal will be inducted to head some of them.

Power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde is also slated to lead a few GoMs once he is made the Leader of the Lok Sabha in place of Pranab Mukherjee. . At present, he leads the GoM on power sector issues. Mukherjee headed 13 of the 27 GoMs and all 12 EGoMs. While GoM decisions needs ratification by Union cabinet, the EGoM is empowered to take a final call on its agenda.

With Sharad Pawar refusing to head the E-GoM on Spectrum pricing, is playing safe despite having an excellent rapport with Prime Minister and lately with the UPA chairperson Sonia gandhi as well, decisions on crucial issues are held up. Even Chidambaram accepted the spectrum assignment only as head of the Group of Ministers and not Empowered group of ministers. Now Chidambaram's decision will again go to the full Cabinet and he personally won't be held responsible for any lapses either.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ansari denied Second Term, Sonia begins hunt for new Vice President candidate

Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo and Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily have emerged front-runners for the post of Vice President of India. Though names of Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Governors Margret Alva and Shivraj Patil and senior congress leaders Saifuddin Soz and  Mohsina Kidwai are also being mentioned for the post.

But V Kishore Chandra Deo is a tribal and commands respect not only within the Congress but also amongst the entire political spectrum. Same goes with Veerappa Moily who hails from Karnataka and a backward. Moily’s name had figured even  during 2007 for the post. But Dr Hamid Ansari was brought in at the last minute as the Left parties insisted for him. 

It is almost certain that Dr Hamid Ansari will not be re-nominated for the post. There is also a likelihood that member of the minority community may not figure either due to other political compulsions. It is argued that with P A Sangma flaunting his tribal card in presidential campaign, Deo’s candidature may puncture it. A five time Lok Sabha MP Kishore Chandra Deo is understood to have also had a brief meeting with Sonia Gandhi recently.

But no one is sure what Sonia Gandhi would do.  Highly placed sources in the Congress say that Sonia Gandhi will discuss the issue with senior leaders once the Election Commission issues a formal notification.

The UPA is in a far more comfortable position in the vice presidential poll as it has clear majority in the electoral college comprising of  790 MPs of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The UPA’s combined strength in both houses will touch 400 mark and with SP, BSP and other non-NDA parties supporting, its nominee will get more than 460 votes.  The Congress managers are of the firm view that even Trinamool Congress will remain part of the UPA in the President’s and Vice Presidential election irrespective of the political differences.

 The Vice Presidential election is due on August 7. The last date of nomination has been fixed for July 20 and voting will be on August 7.   
The Vice-Presidential election requires 20 MPs as proposers and an equal number as seconders. The Electoral College for the present election of the Vice-President consists of  245 from the Rajya Sabha including 12 nominated and 545 from the Lok Sabha including two nominated.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

What`s common between Mukesh Ambani & Anil

A coup to make Pranab as PM foiled 
Fly on the Wall

What is common between Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani, the two estranged industrialist brothers ? It is no secret that both continue to have strained relations despite a truce and division of assets and businesses. Both do not run down each other particularly after the Radia Tape controversy as the country bore the brunt of it and economy suffered.
Insiders say its former Finance Minister and President hopeful Pranab Mukherjee who is loved and respected by both the brothers. Both are working hard to fulfill his political ambitions. The difference is that Anil Ambani wanted to see him as the Prime Minister of India in June 2012 itself while the elder brother Mukesh was contended with Mukherjee becoming President of India.
Fly learns that it was Anil Ambani  who coaxed Mulayam Singh Yadav to convince that  Mamata Banerjee  suggest Manmohan Singh for the President’s post.  Anil Ambani’s game was to make Manmohan as president and install Pranab as PM. Neither the Congress nor Sonia Gandhi had any clue of this gameplan. When this was out through the Mamata-Mulayam meet, Sonia was in rage. Mulayam Singh was invited to 10 Janpath the same night through  Anil Ambani. He even accompanied Mulayam Singh at 10 Janpath and kept sitting in the ante room. It was at this meeting that Mulayam Singh dumped Mamata Banerjee and supported Pranab Mukherjee as President. The junior Ambani’s game plan was grounded though it did take off and it was his master-stroke.