Inside track

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Published: February 14, 2016 1:03:02 AM

The Simhasth Kumbh Mela close to Ujjain takes place every 12 years and is a much anticipated event. But one person not looking forward to the mela, to be held in April this year, is Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The rumour is that five state CMs lost their jobs after taking a holy dip at Simhasth. Chouhan, who is in his third term as chief minister, has organised prayers and yagnas to ward off any harmful influences to his continuing in office

Secrecy ensured

The drill to ensure the secrecy of the Budget for 2016-17 has been set in motion. North Block, home to the finance ministry, is being guarded like a fortress. Media and corporation liaison officers are banned entry, as is the aam janta.

You need a pass signed by a senior official, with signature and photo attached, to enter the building. A closed-circuit TV is fitted at the four entry and exit points, which are guarded by CRPF men who frisk all visitors. Scanners ensure that no one can bring in a pen drive or a Bluetooth device. Mobile phone jammers are in place. Computers are under constant surveillance by IB personnel. All Internet connections have been disconnected.

Of the 15 people working on the Budget, one does not know what the other is doing. Finance minister Arun Jaitley is the sole coordinator.

From February 22, there is a quarantine at the printing press where the Budget papers are printed.

No one is allowed to exit the building and highly confidential papers with last-minute tax proposals are handed over in a sealed trunk.

Sudden steep hike

There has been criticism for long at the extraordinarily low prices of food items at the canteen in Parliament House run by the Railways. The issue had even gone viral on the Internet. Now, the railway canteen has in one fell swoop practically doubled its prices. Vada has gone up from R4 to R11.25, fresh juice from R14 to R22.50, mutton cutlets from R29 to R39.38, a vegetarian thali from R18 to R34, curry rice from R10 to R25 and khichdi from R10 to R23.50.

While the MPs were targeted for getting the canteen food at highly subsidised rates, it is, in fact, the parliamentary secretarial staff who are the real sufferers. A majority of MPs generally go home for their meals or to a five-star hotel.

For PM’s eyes only

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi met party president Amit Shah’s team of BJP office-bearers on January 23, he asked them not to hold back from expressing any criticism.

Conscious that many are too intimidated to voice their feelings openly, Modi said that the office-bearers could make their complaints anonymously in a sealed cover and send it to him. One office-bearer wrote frankly that Modi should stop his foreign trips and concentrate on domestic matters.

CM’s fears

The Simhasth Kumbh Mela close to Ujjain takes place every 12 years and is a much anticipated event. But one person not looking forward to the mela, to be held in April this year, is Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

The rumour is that five state CMs lost their jobs after taking a holy dip at Simhasth. Political observers can cite at least three examples of leaders who faced setbacks to buttress the claim—Arjun Singh in 1980, Sunderlal Patwa in 1992 and Uma Bharti in 2004. Chouhan, who is in his third term as chief minister, is taking no chances. He has organised prayers and yagnas to ward off any harmful influences to his continuing in office.

No spare votes

CP Joshi, general secretary of the Congress and the party in-charge of Bihar, was confident that he would be elected to the Rajya Sabha from Bihar. He calculated that in addition to votes of the 27 Congress MLAs, he would also get the surplus votes of the JD(U), which has 71 MLAs. But in Nitish Kumar’s party, there are several claimants, including Sharad Yadav, KC Tyagi, RCP Singh and Pavan Verma for the Upper House. While Sharad Yadav as president of the JD(U) seems sure of his seat, Nitish wants to send at least one of the other three leaders to the Rajya Sabha.

Since the JD(U) has 31 surplus votes, he has worked out a deal with Lalu Prasad to get nine additional votes from the RJD.

Name dropping

Ever since Anandiben Patel became Gujarat’s chief minister, her two children, Anar and Sanjay, have been the focus of attention, with Patel’s detractors claiming that her children have benefited enormously from her position. Patel is separated from her husband Mafatlal Patel for many years. In fact, at one point, Mafatlal had joined the AAP, but he left it soon after. Recently, Sanjay, a real-estate broker, changed his name from Sanjay Mafatlal Patel to Shwetank Madhukar Patel.

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