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The Smriti Irani headed Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has been in the eye of a storm over its circular on “fake news” and attempt to regulate online news. On Tuesday, there was a buzz in the corridors of the ministry at Shastri Bhavan about a new Twitter handle, “I&B reporters Association@Ib_reporters”. The handle tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that Press Information Bureau principal director general Frank Noronha and secretary in the ministry N K Sinha have been asked to clarify their position on reports published on the “fake news” issue, as also on another report that journalists would be issued radio frequency identification cards to track their movements. According to sources, Irani’s office has asked Noronha and Sinha to explain their role in the two issues. If officials in the ministry said a scribe was behind the handle, reporters covering the beat pointed to the numerous spelling mistakes to claim that it wouldn’t be a journalist, and it could be a junior officer close to the powers that be. Noronha refused to comment. He retires this month.
A top Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader on Tuesday was asked if he believed Lok Janshakti Party chief and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who is part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), would continue to stay. Jocularly, the leader responded with a slogan that Paswan’s supporters raise for their leader at his meetings: “Goonje dharti aasman, Ram Vilas Paswan”, or the earth and the sky rumble with Paswan’s name. As the gathering at the BJP headquarters broke into laughter, the BJP leader shrugged his shoulders to say how one can never be sure with Paswan. He also seemed to have similar doubts about Rashtriya Lok Samata Party leader and Union minister Upendra Kushwaha’s continuance in the NDA.
Tej scores Dalit points
Former health minister of Bihar Tej Pratap Yadav celebrated his 29th birthday on Monday with 29 children from the Dalit-tola in Patna’s Yarpur. He shared his birthday cake with the children and distributed chocolates and clothes among them. He also met a few Dalit families. His last birthday was absolutely different. The Rashtriya Janata Dal leader had celebrated his birthday at his Deshratna Marg bungalow with father and party founder Lalu Prasad, mother Rabri Devi and elder sister Misa Bharti amid much fanfare. The news of the CBI filing a charge sheet against his parents and brother Tejashwi in the land-for-hotels case later that day must have dampened the festivities.