After its resounding success in Delhi elections, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has set its eyes on the national elections. AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal (few remember he is a former babu) now wants “like-minded” people to join the party from across the country to attain this objective. Though still a fledgling idea, among the “like-minded” people Kejriwal has urged to join his cause are Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka, who has recently been chargesheeted by his Government and who came into the public eye for allegedly exposing land scams, and UP IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal, who battled the sand mafia and was suspended by the state government for her efforts. Though the babus name-checked by Kejriwal haven’t responded to his offer, the AAP offer does seem to be a tantalising opportunity for alternate employment for those beleaguered babus. Even if Khemka and Nagpal don’t accept the offer, it could be quite tempting for other babus hoping to escape the system. And one of them has even met Arvind. Now guess on!
Shake-up At MEA
Three months after taking over, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh seems to have hit her stride at the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) by initiating a series of organisational changes. The most significant change is the creation of a new division within MEA, headed by 1988-batch IFS officer Suchitra Durai, to oversee the Indian Ocean region. Similarly Bangladesh and Myanmar are the key to India’s Southeast Asia policy and will have a division to focus on them, to be headed by Sripriya Ranganathan. Apparently Ms Singh feels the need to create many more divisions to deal with South East Asia, but she is hampered by a paucity of IFS officers, especially those at the under secretary and director levels. At the same time Ms Singh has taken care to ensure more gender balance by appointing women IFS officers to head the various territorial divisions in MEA. Besides the above mentioned, she has named Mukta Tomar and Riva Ganguly Das to head the consular and Latin America divisions.
By returning the controversial plot of land in Mumbai to the Maharashtra Government, Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla hopes he has nipped a growing controversy in the bud. The upshot in our scam-tainted times (and it being election time) is that the political class is increasingly wary of anything that spells controversy. Certainly, sources say, a huge sigh of relief went around in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) when officials received Shukla’s letter addressed to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, urging him to repossess the land. The land deal had led to heated discussions in the Maharashtra Assembly, with rumours about how babus had been pressurised to clear the files during former Chief Minister and Chavan’s Congress party colleague Vilasrao Deshmukh’s tenure. Though CMO officials are relieved it remains to be seen the chapter has been closed on this particular episode.