|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Virendra Kapoor | June 09, 2003
Having lived in New Delhi for much of his life, you would trust Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to find his way home on his own.
Or rather, you would expect his personal staff to accomplish that feat without too much trouble, right?
Why, then, do his ministers, head of armed forces, senior bureaucrats, police officials, et al rush to the airport to 'receive' him whenever he flies in from abroad?
For that matter, why do they queue up to see him off when he embarks on a foreign jaunt?
Guess some things don't change. Under the British, whenever a viceroy left or arrived in India, it was customary for senior administrators, including rajas and maharajas, to pay their respects. The age of the viceroy is long gone, but we still continue the tradition.
Thus, we had every minister and official in town at the airport when Vajpayee returned from his recent jaunt.
Ironically, the Bharatiya Janata Party, to which the PM belongs body and soul, was the most vociferous in criticising Congress prime ministers, especially Indira Gandhi, for continuing this practice from the colonial era.
Mrs Gandhi, the BJP said then, was behaving like a 'maharani', who must be seen off and received by her faithful subjects!
To be fair to Mrs Gandhi, she issued a circular asking her ministerial colleagues to cut the airport tamasha. It was another matter that none of them took her to her word -- and a third that she wasn't really keen on their compliance on it.
Under the Vajpayee regime, too, a circular was issued -- a day before his return, detailing the date and time, and could they kindly make it convenient to receive him at the airport?
Spare a thought, Mr PM, for the taxpayers' money wasted and the inconvenience caused to the public, when VIPs tear along Delhi roads just to pranam you…
Now that the term of nominated Rajya Sabha members is coming to an end, lobbying is on for the new opportunities.
A well-known dancer is in the fray, furiously networking, to grab the seat Bollywood actress Shabana Azmi will vacate. The artiste, who had earlier managed a national award, is well versed in that fine art.
There is also keen competition between two journalists, one of them a columnist, and an editor to fill the seat being vacated by veteran columnist Kuldip Nayar.
Jaswant no like...
Finance Minister Jaswant Singh is extremely unhappy with his predecessor Yashwant Sinha's choice of bureaucrats -- and, so, has mercilessly weeded them out.
The last to go was G S Dutt, a 1973 Bihar cadre IAS officer, who was appointed joint secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs in 1999.
Dutt, it would appear, had been accommodated at Shatrughan Sinha's behest.
Meanwhile, a caste angle is seen in the appointment of Vineeta Rai, a 1968 Union Territory cadre officer, as revenue secretary in the finance ministry. Though an officer of unimpeachable integrity, Rai had no experience in an economic ministry.
Singh had brought her in as secretary, banking, much to the surprise of many. Now she has moved up further, and envious colleagues ascribe it to her Rajput lineage, which the minister shares.
If you walk, I will eat
Since Shekhar Gupta, the CEO-cum-editor-in-chief of The Indian Express, does the weekly programme Walk The Talk for the NDTV 24x7 news channel, Prabhu Chawla, India Today's editor, did not apparently want to be left behind.
He has re-christened his television programme on Aaj Tak, Seedhi Baat. It is now called Eat The Talk.
Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh