Wrenching the Initiative
The Prime Minister wants government programmes and schemes to be launched post-Budget should be formulated through political initiative in adherence to the BJP 2014 manifesto. The direction from the PMO is that the programmes must stem from ministers, not from bureaucrats. The PM wants a functioning distinctive from the UPA’s, the officials have been told. The babus will just oversee the launches after fine-tuning the ministerial initiatives. A committee has been formed, which will monitor time-bound implementation of the progremmes, coordinate with states and remove bottlenecks. This is why a sizable contingent of state-level officials has been inducted in the major joint secretary level reshuffle.
Much is said about why President Pranab Mukherjee spoke three times on Indian core values, tolerance and diversity, and why Sonia Gandhi met him a day before the Congress submitted a memo to him on ‘growing intolerance’. Though the PM has a personal rapport with the President, the positioning for the next rashtrapati has begun. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan was seen as the prime candidate, but now Union minister Venkaiah Naidu’s name is doing the rounds. President Mukherjee still has two years to go, but in the BJP circle, the grapevine is that no one after Rajendra Prasad ever got a second term.
MDMK chief Vaiko has broken all ties with DMK and has declared he will never align with Karunanidhi’s party in the coming Tamil Nadu Assembly polls. But wherever he comes to Delhi, he stays at the MP quarters of DMK Rajya Sabha member K P Ramalingam. His recent visit was no exception, so much so that another MP from Tamil Nadu quipped, “Vaiko has cross party friendships, helping him switch sides ever so often.”
Zuma Zoomed In
The tussle between the BJP government and Opposition Congress became pronounced during the recent Indo-African summit. Seen as a major diplomatic coup for the Modi government, the summit has increased the domestic fault lines. Sonia Gandhi was not invited to the PM’s banquet for the African leaders, and she skipped the President’s banquet as well. This was after the MEA refused to let her meet South African President Jacob Zuma. But once Zuma got to know, he took a detour to 10 Japanth to meet her and former prime minister Manmohan Singh. The African National Congress and Indian National Congress have long political ties was the reason given.
Writer, academician and Dalit-right activist Kancha Ilaiah has a question: why only ban cow slaughter? Why not the buffalo? This, he feels, is racial discrimination. Cow is being protected because it is white and of Aryan origin, but the buffalo is neglected as it is black and of tribal origin.