Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari (pictured) is suddenly the favourite politician of not just several Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members of Parliament but also those in the Opposition. On Thursday, Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha leader Derek O’Brien briefed the press on the reports of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Aviation, Culture, Tourism, Road Transport and Shipping. O’Brien, chairperson of the committee, criticised most other ministries but singled out Gadkari for praise. He also noted that the ministry officials had come armed with the relevant data when they appeared before the parliamentary panel, unlike representatives of other ministries. Opposition members have often praised Gadkari for never refusing any request about a highway in their constituency that needs to be repaired or widened.
Hard at work
As the Lok Sabha debated the Triple Talaq Bill on Thursday, several of its members appeared bleary-eyed. Most had returned to their constituencies during the long weekend break, and seemed to be recovering from the after-effects of having followed punishing schedules, visiting schools, colleges and community Christmas celebrations. As MPs held forth on the merits and demerits of the Bill, some members, particularly those from metros, south and eastern India, where Christmas is celebrated with gaiety, could be seen dozing off. MPs, including ministers in the Narendra Modi government, were also keen to know if December 31 and January 1 would be holidays for Parliament. Government sources said it was unlikely. This is a rare winter session where Parliament will be working on New Year’s Day. The winter session usually ends on December 23.
Media bashing, again
When Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Lok Sabha member Surendrajeet Singh Ahluwalia bumped into Congress President Rahul Gandhi outside Parliament recently, Gandhi, fresh from his party's success in three states, good humouredly invited Ahluwalia to rejoin the Congress. Although Ahuluwalia quickly made it clear that he had no plans to quit the BJP, he evinced surprise that his own party leadership had started doubting his allegiance, as some news reports suggested. Privately, Ahluwalia said he didn't care much about media reports about him, thanks to a lesson former President Giani Zail Singh taught him early in his career. Singh told Ahluwalia that when Indira Gandhi was prime minister, newspapers were full of reports on her. But after she died, her party had to spend money to get her name printed in the newspapers and that too only twice a year — on her birth anniversary and on the day she was killed.