With the Congress adopting a proactive posture in Uttar Pradesh and Rahul Gandhi repeatedly taking potshots at Mulayam Singh Yadav and his government, the Rambler feels that party president Sonia Gandhi has decided to open a separate party office in Rae Bareilly. The party workers have started discussing that it will be the new headquarters of the Congress in the state.
It seems that the issue of expansion of Central Ministry has been put on the backburner although the aspirants are still day-dreaming. One group of Congress is opposing the inclusion of 10 Janpath blue-eyed boy, Satish Sharma into the cabinet as it would give him direct entry into the list of the (in)famous tainted ministers. Sharma, who is expecting Petroleum Ministry, has some cases pending against him from the time of Narasimha Rao regime. After the exit of Sibu Soren from the cabinet, pending cases against Sharma would provide Opposition enough reason to raise the matter with renewed vigour.
After the endless list of tainted ministers, whom Rahul Gandhi defended in the name of coalition politics, now the Congress-led coalition government has the ignominy of appointing a tainted Governor in a north-eastern troubled state. Remember HDW in the regime of Rajiv Gandhi. S.S. Sidhu, a retired IAS officer, who was an accused in the Rs 420 crore HDW submarine deal kickback scam, has been appointed Governor of Manipur. Sidhu was let off the hook because of a technicality as HDW submarine case was closed down due to lack of cooperation from German and Swiss authorities.
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It is rumoured that former Congress PM, Narasimha Rao had advised to the present PM, Dr Manmohan Singh to also take command of party organisation. Recently, when asked whether the Prime Minister should also hold the post of the party president, he commented, ?There is no such principle and no harm in it either. I myself have discharged both the responsibilities simultaneously.?
The UPA government is truly trying its best to act contrary to the previous NDA government. It may be so in the case of ?saffronisation of textbooks? or in economic affairs.
On the economic front, the Prime Minister and Finance Minister are working overtime. It is a different issue that economic reforms and the CMP cannot co-exist. The inflation rate touched a three-year high of 7.5 per cent for the week ending July 24, 2004. Forex reserves are dipping.
It is high time for the reformists in the UPA to decide whether they want to spoil the economy or save the Left parties who are interested only in vote-bank politics. And it would be another hectic job for Dr Manmohan Singh to convince Sonia Gandhi on how to counter the USP of the NDA government: it provided a stable economy of low inflation and higher growth rate.
On the auspicious occasion of the August Kranti Day this year, the spokesman of the Congress Party, Abhishek Singhvi started his regular briefing with normal criticism of the BJP and Sangh Parivar for their ?Hindutva? agenda. Then Shri Singhvi spoke on the nationalistic and patriotic character of his party president, Sonia Gandhi, who interacted with hundreds of freedom fighters on August 9. Either the Congress spokesman forgot or knowingly missed to inform how Dr Manmohan Singh, the PM of the Congress Party, paid his tributes to the freedom fighters. When the press conference was over, media-persons found a middle-aged woman from Madhuban, Bihar, crying for help at the AICC. She wanted some help as she has been badly affected by the devastating floods in Bihar. She said that for eight days she had been visiting the AICC office but no one was there to help her. Everyone in the AICC office was making her run here and there without any help. Some journalists after inquiring from the hapless woman, commented that now the Congress Party was in power so everybody must be busy in running the government. Three cheers for women empowerment and August Kranti Day.
If more infants around the globe are given only mother'smilk and no food or formula until six months, at least 1.3 million lives could be saved annually. According to the United Nations Children'sFund (UNICEF) figures, more than 10 million children are dying annually from mainly preventable diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia and if every baby was exclusively breastfed for the first half year of life, an estimated 3,500 lives could be saved each day. Breastfeeding is ?the most natural act of mother and for a newborn? but the practice has not been properly supported considering that it holds the key for children to develop in good health. Breastmilk contains all the nutrients, antibodies, hormones, immune factors and antioxidants that an infant needs to thrive during the first six months of life. It also protects babies from diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections while protecting their immune systems.
Home, Commerce and Petroleum and Natural Gas ministries have banned the entry of journalists unless the minister gives permission or invites the media. Some irate journalists questioned Abhishek Singhvi on the matter. When the media did not get any clue, they said that such things often happen in the Congress regime. It is learnt that the secretaries of the above ministries have been instructed not to interact with mediapersons regarding the departmental affairs. The Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Shri Mani Shanker Aiyer, is nowadays the most worried man as to how his department´s news leaked before things actually happened.
?Jakar so jao?.Jo dar gaya so mar gaya?, was the reaction of Lalu Prasad Yadav when a passenger inquired about steps being initiated to improve the situation in Bihar. This throwaway line, purportedly a serious answer to a desperate query, left the questioner dumfounded. On July 7, 2004, the Patna High Court observed: ?Bihar is burning, people are terrified. They are being abducted from their homes and extortion demands are being made from jails. Lawyers and judges are being assaulted in order to stop them from discharging their duty. A banana republic would not be worse as there is a total collapse of governance. It is a catastrophe, not an ordinary situation, calling for an unusual answer.?