Suresh Prabhu needs to cut bureaucracy to size
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is finding it difficult to push ahead aggressively with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India plan, apparently due to the veritable stranglehold that existing coach suppliers have over the way policy is made and decisions taken by the Indian Railways. Sources say that Prabhu needs to exercise his authority over Railway Board chairman A.K. Mittal as the Board seems to be largely influenced by the “wishes” of major vendors more than the minister himself. MNCs with modern technology can hardly hope to enter the Indian market due to the seeming influence that existing suppliers exert over policy through the “entrenched bureaucracy” at Rail Bhawan and Prabhu needs to break this “cosy camaraderie”.
‘Zia’s urine talk made Morarji Desai reveal secrets’
Pakistan’s military dictator General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq sweet-talked the then Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai into revealing what India knew about its neighbour’s bomb making facility in Kahuta, information that had been collected by India’s intelligence agency, Research & Analysis Wing (RAW). This has been alleged by Prabhu Dayal, a former Indian diplomat in Karachi, in his book Karachi Halwa. Dayal claims that Morarji Desai was the only Indian leader who could be won over completely by Zia. Both Morarji Desai and Zia had a strong dislike for Indira Gandhi and this fact drew them closer. Zia would often telephone Desai and flatter him by calling him his “elder brother” and gave Desai the impression that he was keen on practising “urine therapy”, knowing that Desai was a keen practitioner.
This frequent “urine talk” completely won over Desai, who revealed to Zia information India had about Kahuta. Dayal claims that Desai had a pathological hatred for RAW, which he saw as an agency created by Indira Gandhi to be used against opposition parties. On getting the crucial information from Desai, Zia immediately took action to make Kahuta impregnable to foreign attacks and destroyed the RAW network in Pakistan. Dayal also claims that Desai refused to grant refuelling permission to the aircraft the Israelis were going to use to bomb Kahuta. Subsequently, Zia nominated Desai for Pakistan’s highest civilian award, the Nishan-e-Pakistan, which was given to Desai in 1990, after Zia was killed in a plane crash on 17 August 1988.
PM means business
That Prime Minister Narendra Modi won’t accept excuses for tardy implementation of government initiatives was evident from the dressing down that Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha received at a Cabinet meeting. As the PM was talking about the need to spread awareness about the government’s initiatives, Sinha said that since schemes took time to be implemented after plans were finalised, aggressive campaigns on government projects became difficult at times. The PM cut Sinha short, saying that it was because of such “negative mindset” that government campaigns became lacklustre.
Centre dropped Gujarat terror Bill?
Contrary to reports that President Pranab Mukherjee had returned the controversial Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill, it was the Central government that decided to withdraw the Bill due to some “extreme provisions” in it. If the buzz is to be believed, the decision to withdraw it was taken at the highest level in the government.
Caste leaders sought for Congress posts in U.P.
The “Sadbhavna Mission”, a group that some Uttar Pradesh Congress leaders have formed, wants to build pressure on the high command for a leadership change in the party in the caste-driven state, among other objectives, including establishing communal harmony and instilling goodwill for the party among workers. The group, led by four caste leaders of the party, has already held several meetings in different parts of the state, such as, Lucknow, Moradabad, Kanpur and Bijnor. The last meeting of the group was in Delhi early this week. At the meeting in Delhi, the group discussed the political situation in the state, and dwelt on the need to put pressure on Rahul Gandhi to drop PCC chief Nirmal Khatri, CLP leader Pradeep Mathur and AICC general secretary in-charge of UP Madhusudan Mistry, due to the caste factor that dominates in the state.
The meeting discussed that none of these three Congress leaders were caste leaders of any real relevance. While the PCC chief is a Khatri, Mathur is a Kayastha and has no “influence” on the demographic equations in the state. As for Mistry, he is an OBC from Gujarat. The group’s meeting in Delhi discussed the need to have a caste leader in all the three posts, as “only a caste leader can counter caste leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati”.
Rahul ‘let out’ Mamata’s secret
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is upset with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for “unethically making public” what was a private conversation between the two. Rahul took West Bengal PCC leaders by surprise at a meeting with them early this week when he revealed that he had had “secret talks” with Mamata at Nitish Kumar’s swearing-in ceremony. Rahul said that Mamata had warned him against having any alliance with the Left parties. This revelation came even as a majority of the PCC leaders wanted the Congress to go with the Left; two wanted the party to go it alone; and only Manas Bhuiyan, a former PCC chief, wanted Rahul to go with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.