Capital Buzz


When the PM’s silence spoke volumes

Support TwoCircles

New Delhi : At a Rashtrapati Bhavan event, Sports Minister M S Gill remonstrated to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about how, contrary to the “negative media campaign”, chefs de mission of various countries were praising the facilities at the Commonwealth Games and had no complaints about anything. The prime minister gave a patient ear to Gill and, after he finished speaking, quietly turned away – without a comment.

A man of few words, the prime minister’s silence was a testament to his disapproval of the way things had been handled by people who had been entrusted with the responsibility to deliver the Games for India and had instead brought the country considerable bad publicity and a tarnished international image.


The meticulous PM

The cares of office and age may be beginning to show on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who turned 78 on Sep 26, but it has not diminished his energy for hard work and his mental sharpness.

A cabinet minister was recently saying admiringly how Manmohan Singh manages to read all notes sent up to the cabinet secretary, sometimes even before his principal secretary has seen them, and remembers to bring up those points at his conversation with the minister, and the meticulous notings he has made in the files about the subject.

A veteran of the Prime Minister’s Office, who has worked under many prime ministers, even remarked how the lights in the prime minister’s private study are the last to go off and the first to come on at the crack of dawn, making him perhaps one of the most “hard-working prime ministers in recent times”. Prime ministerial aides now force him to take a 45-minute catnap in the afternoon as a break from his punishing daily routine.


Burning the midnight oil

With the Ayodhya verdict and the Commonwealth Games this week, officials at the home ministry were a harried lot, especially with Home Minister P. Chidambaram known to be a very conscientious worker.

The ministry located in North Block was the venue for two intensive meetings presided over by the minister – one on the Ayodhya verdict and another on the Games. Twenty-four-hour control rooms have been monitoring the developments in the country.

Several key ministry officials have been pulling long days, often staying in office for 16 hours at a stretch. “East or west, home (ministry) may not be the best any more,” quipped a senior official.


Mozambique impressed by India’s woman power

A high-power delegation from Mozambique visiting India was more than impressed with India’s rising woman power – a woman president, who hosted President Armando Guebuza to a gala dinner complete with serenading bagpipes at Rashtrapati Bhavan, a woman speaker, a woman head of the ruling coalition and also a woman leader of the opposition.

“Do you have more women than men in your country,” a foreign ministry official from the visiting delegation asked in wonder when he learnt of the woman power parade.

Interestingly, Mozambique, a southeast African country, is seeking help in human resource development from India to upgrade skills of its professionals.


Singhvi faces fire from Kerala Congress

After forcing Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi to withdraw from a case in which he was defending a lottery distributor, Congress leaders in Kerala are now pressing for further action against the Supreme Court lawyer for putting the state party in difficulties ahead of local body elections.

The state Congress unit had made a big political issue out of the alleged link between the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leaders and the lottery distributor. It is learnt that Singhvi withdrew from the case after the Congress high command’s intervention. The state Congress leaders say disciplinary action must be taken against Singhvi.

“If the party fails to perform well in the local body elections, Singhvi will be held as responsible for it,” said a senior state Congress leader.


Fernandes spelled out

The Janata Dal-United (JD-U) might have denied its veteran leader George Fernandes a seat in the last Lok Sabha polls in 2009, but it has been kind enough to display his photograph among “Our Leaders” in its recently re-launched party website. But his name is grossly mis-spelt as “Jeorge Fernandis” ( as pronounced in Hindi.)

The ailing Fernandes, who had once worked as a proof-reader in The Times of India, Mumbai, is in no condition to do the spell check either!


A snap with Pretty Woman

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh’s secret heartfelt wish – a photo session with Hollywood ‘pretty woman’ Julia Roberts. Ramesh who was in the US to attend a conference last week met Hollywood heart-throb Leonardo Di Caprio on the sidelines of the function and their smiling photos were splashed across Indian newspapers.

Back in India, when reporters congratulated him on his brush with Hollywood glamour, Ramesh retorted, “I would have loved to be clicked with Julia Roberts.”