At an event to mark the financial closure of the first bundle of TOT (toll-operate-transfer) projects under the road monetisation scheme that was awarded to a joint venture of Macquarie and Ashoka Buildcon in March, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari proved once again why he is considered a master of wordplay. He said his ministry was upbeat about the prospects of the “bundle” project and warned his guests not to consider his estimation as “bandal”, a Hindi slang for bluff. He said, “These projects are a real bundle of road contracts and not the Hindi version of bandal”. His international guests might have just missed the pun as was apparent from their expression of bewilderment.
From PM ‘Jaa’ to PM ‘Jay’
In his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi (pictured) had spoken in some detail about the benefits of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyaan that would accrue to the poor. In a curious turn of events, the Modi government has stopped using this name for its ambitious health insurance scheme, Ayushman Bharat. Health Minister J P Nadda launched the logo under the programme, which has now been suitably renamed Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana. Sources said the change had to do with the acronyms of the two schemes. The acronym of PM Jan Arogya Abhiyaan was “PMJAA”, and the Hindi translation would be “PM go”, while the acronym of the changed PM Jan Arogya Yojana is “PMJAY”, meaning “victory to the PM”.
The other GST
Have you heard about the other GST? On Tuesday, Bihar's ruling Janata Dal United went all out against leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly, Tejashwi Prasad, and alleged that Rashtriya Janata Dal founder Lalu Prasad's son had seen GST (gunda service tax) in his childhood “when his parents ruled the state and inflicted Jungle Raj on Bihar”. Among other things they also alleged that Tejashwi had taken a supari (contract money) to defame Bihar, as “he was in pain after losing power”. The “GST” allegation was in response to Tejashwi's frequent complain that there were two taxes in Bihar — income tax and “RCP tax”, a reference to JDU's Rajya Sabha MP Ram Chandra Prasad Sinha.