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Is Congress unhappy with C P Joshi?

August 26, 2010 00:11 IST

In the last Cabinet meeting held a few days ago, there was a virtual face off between Union Human Research and Development Minister Kapil Sibal and Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister C P Joshi, with Joshi objecting to the setting up of an education tribunal being installed by Sibal.

Sources said that Kapil Sibal's view point was that if bodies like the AICTE and others had grievances and needed to approach some authority to resolve their problems, the tribunal would act in that direction and avoid the judicial route, as that is 'too time-consuming and non-productive.'

But Joshi said that having been a teacher (he was a professor), he felt it could not be done in this way and objected to the setting up of the tribunal.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is then learnt to have intervened and told Joshi that the Cabinet was going ahead with the bill, and whatever clarifications Joshi needed or any points to be sorted out, he should contact
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee who would explain them to him.

Later that same day Joshi had a meeting with Mukherjee in his office.

Sources in the HRD ministry state that part of Joshi's anger stems from the fact that he had been asking for an Indian Institute of Management to be set up in his constituency of Bhilwara, in Rajasthan, but it is learnt that according to the feasibility studies by the HRD ministry, it is not felt to be a suitable place.

Most MPs and ministers have been asking for big-ticket educational institutions to be set up in their constituencies, but HRD ministry officials say this is neither practical nor possible and that they cannot accommodate all the requests which come their way.

Joshi's meeting with Pranab Mukherjee also comes after his controversial remarks following Congress' poor show in the Rajasthan local bodies elections. Joshi, also the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committe president, said that price rise was responsible for the party's poor showing, particularly in urban areas where the people have been hit hard by surging inflation.

A senior Union minister said that the leadership has not taken Joshi's statement too well, since he appears to be forgetting for the moment
that he is also a senior Cabinet minister in the government and that
this kind of statement reflects poorly on not only the entire government but the Congress party as well.

A senior leader from Rajasthan said that since Joshi has two heavy duty portfolios, both of which have a wide canvas, he has not been able to focus on his role as the state PCC president, which also requires a great deal of time to be spent there.

On top of that, he is the president of the Rajasthan cricket association and needs to spend time focusing on cricketing affairs.

As if that is not enough, Joshi has also been made a member of the Congress party's screening committee for Bihar, of which Hari Prasad is the chairman This committee would be screening all the candidates for the upcoming assembly polls and shortlisting and recommending the names of the prospective candidates.

A senior AICC functionary said that the leadership is in the process of rationalising the dual responsibility given to leaders as many of them are doubling up in the organisation and the government, with the result that they have little time to do justice to their job.

In this context it would be fair to say that with the organizational elections underway in the Congress party, Rajasthan is likely to have a new PCC president if the leadership goes by the dictum of 'one man one post.'

Hectic lobbying is on in Rajasthan for the new president as both Joshi and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot are pushing for their own man for the plum post.

Relations between Joshi and Gehlot are known to be strained.

Image: Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister C P Joshi

Renu Mittal in New Delhi