by R Rajagopalan | 05:19 PM June 15, 2017

Capital Buzz: When AIADMK managed to keep the Election Commissioner out of his office

Capital Buzz: How AIADMK caused a logjam at EC office

It was a flurry of activities outside Nirvachan Sadan the headquarters of the Election Commission, which witnessed a major logjam, so much so that even the Chief Election Commissioner found it difficult to enter his own chambers.

What caused the congestion? Six lorries outside the Election Commission brought in six lakhs twenty thousand affidavits from both Sasikala faction of AIADMK and O Pannerselvam group.  And then the entire load was dumped at the EC reception.

Each affidavit contains at least three pages, which totals to around eighteen lakhs and sixty thousand pages. Interestingly, Nirvachan Sadan, which houses Election Commission does not have space to keep them.

The EC was given time until June 16 to submit, and that is why Dr V Maitreyan from OPS group and S Thambidurai deputy speaker of Lok Sabha from Edapaati side brought in the bundles in big lorries weighing two tonnes.

The Nirvachan Sadan car parking shed is now full of AIADMK affidavits. When this correspondent asked the Deputy Election Commissioner about the cross verification and inspection of these documents, they brushed it aside and said it was all a political drama for media attention.

General practice in the Election Commission is to keep these bundles for one year, and after that, they sell it to scrap. The amount accrued in the disposal of these bundles will go to the Election Commission staff welfare fund. 

"This is just a political drama enacted by both groups, never has been such huge numbers of affidavits been filed with the EC" a source in Election Commission confirmed. 

The question here is why in this era of digitisation, has the EC not insist the two AIADMK factions submit their documents in pen drives or external drives. Why spend lakhs of rupees in photocopying, notary attestation and transportation cost, said Dr V Maitreyan, an MP from the OPS faction.

No favourites here, Modi gets cracking

Capital political circles are agog with whispers about sudden changes in the personal staff of senior union ministers. To the dig real story, this correspondent met several senior union ministers and understood the key issue, which so far has been missed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is adamant with his senior colleagues and has rejected their requests to extend the tenure of their Private Secretaries. Modi is clear. No Private Secretary to a Union Minister can hold office more than five years. 

In some cases, the BJP Ministers are keeping Private Secretaries of their choice for more than five years. They are Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Smriti Irani, Ravi Shankar Prasad and the list of names get lengthier. 

With Prime Minister's rejection of the extension of tenure to the Private Secretaries to these Ministers,  several IAS, IPS and IRS officers now had to be transferred to other departments. 

Simanchal Dash, an Indian Revenue Service officer, has been with Finance Minister for more than five years and is a close confidant of Arun Jaitley.  Similarly, Rajnath Singh also has an officer from Indian Police Service.

Early this week, obeying the instructions of the PMO, Arun Jaitley has got a new Private Secretary Saurav Shukla, an Indian Audit and Accounts Service official to replace Simanchal Dash.  Word has it that a special post of Officer on Special Duty has been created in Central Board of Direct Taxes for Simanchal Dash. 

Similarly, Smriti Irani is likely to get a new Private Secretary by the end of this month.



Why so silent, Mamata Banerjee

Gossip circuit in the capital is full of stories on Mamta Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal. The buzz is around on why she suddenly has gone so silent? Ever since her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, the West Bengal leader has gone silent.

Did she get an alert or some hint from Finance Ministry on the money laundering case involving a close relative? Rumour has it that a senior Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP allegedly had a two-hour-long dinner meeting with the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, to soften the centre's aggression on the relative of Mamta Banerjee. Both Trinamool Congress or from North Block are maintaining a stony silence.

But something certainly has transpired, that shut down the noises and sound bytes from Kolkata. This silence could be broken only by an arrest by the Enforcement Directorate of two MPs of Trinamool Congress on PMLA and FERA cases.

Whatever said and done, till presidential polls, say July 25, things will not be moving forward, must have been the one line, word of assurance from the Central Government to Trinamool Congress. 

Like AIADMK which is now bending its knees and prostrating before the Central leadership, a scene might also emerge to woo Mamta Banerjee. 

This strategy will also be gainful for the split in the main opposition camp. Like Nitish Kumar has kept away from Lalu Prasad, Mamta Banerjee will distance from CPM-controlled Congress. 

This is the hot and sour buzz being heard in the upper echelons of North Block. Watch this space for more updates.


(R Rajagopalan is a senior journalist based in New Delhi. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect those of Asianet Newsable. )

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