CONGRESS’ LOSS IS SP’s GAIN
When former Congress leader Beni Prasad Verma returned to his parent Samajwadi Party last week, the Congress heaved a sigh of relief.
Mr Verma, known for his mercurial temperament and statements, had invariably caused a great deal of discomfort to Congress leaders. His war with fellow MP P.L. Punia had acquired legendary proportions. A senior Congressman quipped: “We wish that the SP gains all that we have lost, but in the changed nature of the Samajwadis, we are eager to see how Mr Verma fits in.”
Incidentally, Mr Verma, who is a Kurmi, was being wooed by his former friend Mulayam Singh Yadav to counter the campaign of fellow Kurmi leader and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar in eastern Uttar Pradesh. The two leaders frequently conversed over the phone and the bitterness began to dissolve in the past few weeks.
However, there is an air of discomfort in Samajwadi Party circles after Mr Verma’s return, because his hostility with another former SP leader, Amar Singh, had led to his exit from the party.
Mr Singh is also back in favour with the SP leadership and it now remains to be seen how the Yadav clan manages the two foes. Apparently, it will take more than just an effort to manage the new equations that are emerging within the SP — more so, since the younger generation has taken over the party’s reins.
A positive story, please A new terminology — positive investigative reporting — has been added to the dictionary of journalism, thanks to Ajay Chandrakar, the controversial panchayati raj minister of Chhattisgarh.
The minister, whose rough tongue has embarrassed the Raman Singh government umpteen times in the past several months, has found the media the scapegoat for his “negative public image”.
The minister has been hogging the limelight only for the wrong reasons. A few months ago, he had been accused of using abusive language against some women officers in his department. A few days later, the Opposition Congress cried foul over the minister’s alleged inappropriate behaviour with a woman at a government function. Recently, he was alleged to have threatened to take stringent action against a forest officer if the latter failed to arrange a garland and bouquet for him at a government programme in Koriya district.
Frustrated by the media coverage, Mr Chandrakar is said to have thrown his hands in the air, saying, “Why can’t the media see the good work done by me ”
One of his close aides even suggested that the media report the good works done by him. “Why can’t the media do positive investigative reporting to highlight good works done by the government ” the aide observed.
But “positive investigative reporting” is a misnomer as there is no need to investigate the good work of the government. Is Mr Chandrakar listening
What’s new The agenda of Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal to accelerate industrial growth in the state has not gone down well with the Opposition parties.
During his recent visit to Shanghai, Mr Badal said an E-Cycle Valley would be developed in Ludhiana. He claimed he has studied the entire ecosystem necessary to come out with affordable electric cycles.
“I am confident this can be implemented at Cycle Valley in Ludhiana. The Punjab government will fast-track permissions and allot land to all the five promoters who have decided to set up manufacturing facilities, including four Chinese and one Taiwanese company,” said Mr Badal.
Aam Aadmi Party MP Bhagwant Mann, who is never short of words, was of a different opinion, as he quipped: “In the past as well, Sukhbir had planned some projects, like starting water buses and constructing roads that last for decades, but the reality is known to every Punjabi. Few years back, he had gone to China with an army of officers to learn how to use wheat straw to produce electricity, but the fact is that a mill owner near Khamanon was already producing electricity out of wheat straw.
Moreover, even Google or YouTube can teach you this technique. Then, what is the need for this show-off ”
“The actual thing is that none of the Akali leaders, including Sukhbir, can go to countries like Canada and America as the Punjabi community residing there doesn’t even want to see the Akalis, so Sukhbir satisfies himself by going to Korea, China and Japan,” added Mr Mann.
Some twist in the Punjab investment story, we say!
TEST OF A LOYALIST Recently, veteran Bharatiya Janata Party MP Bhola Singh, known for his flowing Hindi oratory, asked Union minister of state for petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan a pointed question.
Mr Singh asked what was the “majboori” of the government that prevented it from adopting an aggressive approach against Reliance Industries, which is involved in various arbitration cases with the Centre
Mr Pradhan, a known Narendra Modi loyalist, tried to reassure Mr Singh saying that there was no “majboori” as the nation is being led by Mr Modi.
The witty MP immediately shot back by saying it’s fine that Mr Modi is the Prime Minister, but you too are Dharmendra and to top that, also a Pradhan (head of department in Hindi), so you too should be proactive.
The repartee left the minister shaking his head in embarrassment and left the entire Lok Sabha in peals of laughter.
A PR triumph On the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, on May 9, Union minister for petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan tried to ensure that the BJP’s erstwhile ally and current Enemy No. 1, Biju Janata Dal, the ruling party in Orissa, does not get away with all the publicity in the state media.
Normally on Akshaya Tritiya, Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik participates in a state function organised in a selected paddy field where he customarily tills the land with a traditional bullock plough and sows the seeds. This ceremony hogs the limelight and occupies prominent space on the front page of most newspapers the next day.
But this year, Mr Pradhan organised a similar function at Kandarpur in Orissa’s Cuttack district and invited Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh to observe the Akshaya Tritiya customs, just like Mr Patnaik. The BJP’s Akshaya Tritiya function was preceded by high-voltage public relations activities, resulting in both electronic and print media giving equal importance to the event.
Struck by the Union minister’s master publicity stroke, the BJD accused the BJP of imitating it for political mileage. The Union minister retorted saying, “We will not be surprised if the BJD one day claims that the world famous Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath was also the party’s preserve.”
While the BJD didn’t reply, Mr Pradhan appeared happy at his PR triumph over the BJD.
TENDULKAR GIVES DARSHAN Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar’s absence from the Rajya Sabha has been a cause of concern and heartburn for many MPs in the House. In fact, the matter has been taken up repeatedly over the past few sessions.
However, during the last week of the recently-concluded Budget Session of Parliament, Tendulkar was spotted attending the proceedings of the House on May 9 and 10 — a rare sight ever since he has been nominated to the Upper House.
Interestingly, his wife, Anjali, too, was in town and had reportedly visited a suburb of the national capital ostensibly to get the documentation work of a property completed.