What is Scindia waiting for?
It’s going to be one year since Jyotiraditya Scindia joined the BJP and won his Rajya Sabha nomination from there, but he is still to take up a government bungalow. His old house in Lutyens Delhi at 27 Safdarjung Road, a Type VIII bungalow, which the Scindias had been occupying since Madhavrao’s time, has since been allotted to someone else. Interestingly, Jyotiraditya was allotted a bungalow in Teen Murti Lane by the Cabinet Committee on Accommodation, but since he did not show much enthusiasm for it, this will probably be assigned to someone else. The key question of course is: what is Scindia waiting for?
The last word
The fourth and final book from late Pranab Mukherjee’s memoirs, titled The Presidential Years (published by Rupa) created quite a stir, not to mention a spat between his children. The reason for this was his criticism of the way the Congress party was being run, especially after he moved to the Rashtrapati Bhavan. As he writes: “Though I don’t subscribe to this view, I do believe that the party’s leadership lost political focus after my elevation as president. While Sonia Gandhi was unable to handle the affairs of the party, Dr Singh’s prolonged absence from the House put an end to any personal contact with other MPs.” But PranabDa spared no one, even PM Modi is singled out for his “autocratic” style of functioning, and states that while he was not in the know about demonetization, he supported the PM when informed of the move. But in the end he concludes that “one thing can be stated without fear of contradiction” is that the objectives stated by the government, to bring back black money etc “have not been met”. All in all, for a man who never went to bed without making notes in his diary, it is a record of his Presidential years, but what it lacks is a lot of the informal and behind the scenes workings that he must have been privy to.
70 years as a journalist
Prem Prakash, chairman of ANI, has come out with his memoirs, Reporting India by Penguin, based on a 70-year career that has seen him interacting with each and every Prime Minister India has had. The early years are particularly interesting, especially his interaction with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. He also captures the transition of an era from still cameras, to a time when news reels had to be sent out of India to be uploaded to the now and the bureaucracy involved. He writes about covering the liberations of Goa and Pondicherry, and the 1962 war. It’s an interesting read of a time gone by, and gives an insight into the nuts and bolts of covering news, the onset of TV in India as well as his interactions with various Prime Ministers. For instance, Rajiv Gandhi, being a tech geek was always full of questions about the camera being used, and how he once, when he interviewed Nehru, it was the latter who suggested that first he sit in front of the camera and ask his questions and then go behind the camera and shoot his answers.