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Modi, the juggler

Published : Jun 6, 2016, 6:45 am IST
Updated : Jun 6, 2016, 6:45 am IST

Please Don’t Compare As if subsidies, government accommodation, various perks and allowances were not enough, some of our MPs are pushing for a salary hike.

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 modi.jpg

Please Don’t Compare

As if subsidies, government accommodation, various perks and allowances were not enough, some of our MPs are pushing for a salary hike.

While the government is yet to take a call on a parliamentary panel report that recommends a hike in the salary of MPs, Rajya Sabha member Naresh Agrawal and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad are impatient. So much so that they have accused the government of not speaking on the issue due to media pressure.

“A parliamentary committee which decides on the salary and allowance of MPs had given a report which has been suppressed due to media pressure,” Mr Agrawal said.

“He is right... we are afraid of the media. One-fourth of the salary of the editors of electronic media would be sufficient,” said Mr Azad, backing Mr Agrawal.

MPs are entitled to Rs 50,000 per month as salary, Rs 45,000 as constituency allowance, Rs 15,000 as office expenses and Rs 30,000 for secretarial assistance. When Parliament is in session, they get a daily allowance of Rs 2,000. MPs are also reimbursed for 34 flight trips and unlimited rail and road travel for the year on official business.

However, it seems our MPs are not even aware of the plight of the average journalist, whose pay and perks is nowhere near the amount quoted above. And considering this it seems to be an unfair comparison.

LULL BEFORE THE STORM Sometimes, especially in politics, silence is more deafening than noise. A classic example of this is senior Samajwadi leader and UP minister Azam Khan.

Ever since his arch-rival Amar Singh was welcomed back into the party and given a Rajya Sabha ticket, Mr Khan has gone into silent mode.

After initially terming Mr Singh’s return as “unfortunate”, he has refused to comment on developments in the party. He has been staying in his constituency, Rampur, even though political circles are buzzing with activity in Lucknow.

Mr Khan did not attend the nominations of party candidates to the Rajya Sabha and Vidhan Parishad and then stayed away from a Cabinet meeting though the agenda included issues related to his urban development ministry.

Now he has quietly left for Germany, with officials in tow. Party insiders feel this is the proverbial lull before the storm, and when it comes, it is going to be rather deadly.

The healer PM Perhaps among current politicians in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi knows best how to appease sulking colleagues and punch rivals perfectly.

In his two meetings in February this year in Orissa’s Bargarh and Paradip, the BJP gave an impression that the party was promoting Union petroleum and natural gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan as its chief ministerial candidate in the state. At the Bargarh and Paradip meetings, Mr Pradhan was seen sitting close to Mr Modi and intermittently chatting with him, sending out a message to the gathering that he was close to him. On a few other occasions in New Delhi, Mr Pradhan also successfully projected himself as the PM’s blue-eyed boy.

Shocked, senior leaders like Union tribal affairs minister Jual Oram, Bijoy Mohapatra and Kanak Vardhan Singh Deo began sulking for quite some time.

On June 2, Mr Modi undertook a damage-control exercise at his Balasore public meeting. He described Mr Oram as a “messiah” of tribals and called Mr Mohapatra, Mr Singh Deo and Dilip Ray on to the stage.

Realising that their self-respect had been restored to some extent, Mr Oram, Mr Mohapatra and Mr Singh Deo beamed, as their followers applauded Mr Modi’s healing touch move.

Criticised for calling the BJP’s key enemy Orissa CM and BJD president Naveen Patnaik as “Mere Parama Mitra (my best friend)” and Sriman (virtuous) in the Rourkela and Paradip meetings, Mr Modi attacked the BJD government, saying the state had failed, as it was ruled by a non-BJP government and called for a change.

No more junkets! The PMO’s intervention in slashing the cash-strapped North Delhi Municipal Corporation’s proposed rates for using its land for providing services by any agency has shattered the dreams of many of its officers and leaders, who had been planning foreign junkets from the revenue it could have generated by implementing the original plan. The NDMC, which is not even in a position to generate its own salaries, had estimated that by charging `75,162 per sq. m. per year, it could have easily generated about `60,000 crore every year. But with the PMO’s intervention, it had to bring down its rate to `684 per sq. m. one-time charge. So what could have turned the civic agency into a cash-rich corporation finally works out to just 0.9 per cent of its expected target.

For the time being the officers and leaders planning to go for foreign junkets are now busy working on creative solutions that can help them not only to revive the financial health of the body, but also enable them to visit places like Switzerland, London, Paris, etc.

TRP-hungry media The battle for TRPs has always kept news channels on their tenterhooks. Be it an earthquake or a tsunami, the news channels are right at the spot to get you breaking news on any human tragedy.

The pressure of TRPs is so much on the channels that they now constantly monitor 24x7 forecasts of the meteorological department.

But the recent Met department forecast that heavy rainfall would lash Uttarakhand in the coming days disappointed all as some channels had even rushed their crews from Delhi to get the best footage.

But all that the news-hungry TV journos returned with were sweet memories they had recorded on their mobile sets of a selected few tourist destinations.

One TV journo who was called back from the state by his channel smilingly said that next time if he was assigned a similar assignment, he would definitely take his family along to enjoy a paid vocation.

Too much to tell The almost six-hour-long mega show aired live by Doordarshan on May 28 to celebrate the NDA government’s two years in office culminated with a half-an-hour speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

While the entire programme amply highlighted the various policy and people-centric initiatives of the government through discussions with almost all Cabinet ministers, Mr Modi emphasised the benefits of these schemes by giving examples of how actually they have benefited the common man and helped in combating corruption.

As the programme stretched till almost midnight, Mr Modi, perhaps mindful of the time, in a lighter vein added while wrapping up his speech, that considering the sheer volume of good work done by the government, the Doordarshan guys may have to record him for a week if he starts going into details of various initiatives of his government.

Bhaag, BJP, bhaag It had all started with BJP president Amit Shah’s maiden public rally in Kolkata way back in November 2014. Mr Shah had grandly declared that he had come to “uproot the Trinamul Congress from West Bengal”. Emboldened by a huge turnout, Mr Shah asked the people to give the BJP a chance because like the Left Front, the Mamata Banerjee too had betrayed its mandate.

It was BJP national secretary and observer for West Bengal Sidharth Nath Singh who set the tone for the BJP’s future campaign by coining the slogan: “Bhaag Madan bhaag... Bhaag Mukul bhaag... Bhaag Mamata bhaag ”

This slogan caught the imagination of BJP workers. The arrest of transport minister Madan Mitra in December 2014 in the multi-crore Saradha scam and the interrogation of TMC national general secretary Mukul Roy by the CBI on January 30, 2015, and his subsequent marginalisation, made the people believe that Mr Singh’s slogan might prove prophetic.

For the next one year, the slogan became Mr Singh’s signature tune. In every public meeting, he would say: “In 2016 it will be bhaag Mamata bhaag.” BJP leaders gleefully used it to mock and berate Ms Banerjee and her partymen. The Mamata camp was obviously furious over what it described as a disparaging political slogan. However, the situation totally changed on May 19 when the TMC won a landslide victory.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first to congratulate Ms Banerjee. On May 27, Union ministers Arun Jaitley, Babul Supriyo and P.A. Gajapathi Raju specially flew down to Kolkata to attend Ms Banerjee’s swearing-in. Relishing his party’s glorious triumph, TMC MP Sultan Ahmed wondered why Mr Singh, who was a regular visitor till a fortnight ago, had suddenly stopped coming to the city. “I am not sure whether I should say bhaag Sidharth bhaag or bhaag BJP bhaag,” Mr Ahmed quipped.