The Winter Session of Parliament is about to commence but Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has not been able to make some key appointments to his staff. Individuals with a Sangh background who were part of Sumitra Mahajan’s establishment are lobbying hard to get a new lease of life in office. Mr Birla reportedly has his own set of favourites from Rajasthan but the ‘political clearance’ has not arrived. An agonising wait continues.
A move is afoot to merge Lok Sabha TV and Rajya Sabha TV. Many contractual staffers face an uncertain future beyond January 2020. Apparently, the government finds separate Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha TV entities extravagant and useless when Doordarshan is doing a much better job. There is also a view that Lok Sabha TV has been occupying too much of space inside the Parliament House premises.
The Maharashtra impasse has brought into focus the Uttarakhand politician Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, who is occupying the Raj Bhavan at Malabar Hill in Mumbai. If the state heads for President’s Rule, Koshiyari will become the third Uttarakhandi to be directly ruling a state. While Trivendra Singh Rawat is chief minister of Uttarakhand, his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Yogi Adityanath or Ajay Mohan Bisht too hails from Pauri Garhwal.
No peacemakers please
The titanic battle of supremacy between Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath, Digvijaya Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia has gotten a twist. Congress president Sonia Gandhi has deputed Shivraj Patil and Meira Kumar to act as peacemakers. Now, the warring factions of the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) are dreading the Patil-Kumar duo, known to hold court and speak at length, resulting in nothing. Some well-meaning persons in the state Congress want the Nath-Singh-Scindia trio to patch up informally and quickly.
How Ranga died
A new book on Tihar Jail has shocking details of how the premier prison in the national capital has been functioning. In Black Warrant (Roli Books), narrator Sunil Gupta, Tihar jailer, has given a graphic account of the January 31, 1982, hanging of two dreaded criminals — Ranga-Billa who had kidnapped, raped and murdered 16-year-old Geeta Chopra and her younger brother Sanjay in New Delhi. Incredible as it may sound, Gupta told co-author Sunetra Choudhury how Ranga had actually survived hanging at Tihar. A constable was asked to jump into the well of “Phansi Kothi” to pull the condemned prisoner's legs till Ranga’s life was pulled out of him, reveals Gupta. Sunetra, an award-winning author-journalist-TV news anchor, has provided an effective voice to Gupta’s dark world of incarceration.
Freedom to Fadnavis rued
The Maharashtra political stalemate has brought into focus some lesser-known details of the BJP’s functioning. It was assumed that BJP chief Amit Shah, considered a modern-day Chanakya, has a Midas touch. However, little birdie from Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg in New Delhi now says he was misled by the state unit on selection of some candidates, as well as the politics behind the Shiv Sena fielding Aaditya Thackeray. So, when it came to government formation the central BJP leadership gave a “free hand” to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis (who resigned on Friday) instead of taking direct charge. Till the time of writing, it had not worked.