Uttarakhand is reeling with one of its worst natural disasters in recent years, but Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna is all set to embark on a pre-planned trip to Switzerland from next week. Bahuguna’s office, as is the normal practice, had sought political clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs for the trip on which his wife and some officials are to accompany him. The MEA officials dealing with the request were expecting that Bahuguna might cancel the trip in view of the disaster in his state. But when no communication was received from his office, the MEA, on Wednesday, informed the state’s resident commissioner in Delhi that it had no objection to the trip.
IAS and IPS officers who pull out all stops to get a posting in Delhi have a fresh hurdle. The government recently clarified that their tenure as private secretary or OSD to a minister would not be counted against their ‘cooling off’ period, or the mandatory stint in the state cadre after a deputation at the Centre. So, if their tenure with any minister comes to an end for whatever reason, they would have to go back to their states to complete their cooling off period. In fact, their cooling off will start afresh, since their tenure with a minister would be based in Delhi. The government has also directed the cadre controlling authorities of the All India Services to take a written consent from these officers to this effect before making their appointment in the personal staff of the ministers.
The Congress workers steadfastly subscribe to the party slogan ‘Congress ka haath aam aadmi ke saath’. But a section of party MPs in Uttar Pradesh is said to be wondering as to how this translates into ‘Rahul ka haath Beni babu ke saath’, in a reference to Rahul Gandhi’s continued confidence in Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma, who has been unable to deliver anything to the party from UP but still managed to retain his place in the revamped Congress Working Committee. The MPs fear that Verma might be asked to lead the party’s campaign