Less than two weeks within assuming office, Narendra Modi seems to be working overtime to bring in a new culture of work ethics in the government. From asking bureaucrats to keep desk clean to forbidding MP’s from touching his feet, new PM looks determined to shake up the old order.
Today BJP MP Sumitra Mahajan was formally elected as the speaker of the 16th LokSabha. Modi did wordplay (Typical habit of Twitter junkie!) by saying he hopes Speaker can ensure all MP’s remain “su- mitra” (good friends) with each other. Other political parties too reposed their full faith in Mahajan, a parliamentarian of 8 terms.
Mahajan however refused to comment whether she will confer the status of the Leader of the Opposition to the Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge. Normally the post of the deputy speaker is assigned to a member of the opposition. This time the post may go to Thambidurai from AIADMK, a decision seen as a tactical move to garner support of Jayalalithaa’s party in the Rajya Sabha.
Today Modi took a master class of all the BJP MP’s. He clearly laid out the does and the don’ts for them. Modi is looking to run operations like a CEO of a company and has no time for ceremonial tehzeeb. Thus he has asked MP’s not to touch his feet as it reeks of sycophancy. He has instructed them to regularly attend Parliament, to be well informed about the matter which is being debated and to have clear knowledge of the government’s stand in that issue. Like a strict taskmaster Modi has dissuaded members from loitering in the Parliament or just gossiping with colleagues. They have been asked to spend spare time in the library to spruce up their knowledge!!
Shashi Tharoor is having a tough time to convince his party that he hasn’t been “Modi”fied. Now he has sent a letter to Ajay Maken, head of communication cell in the Congress to explain what he actually sought out to do by praising Modi. The subtext of Tharoor’s letter implies that he was trying to fix the bar for Modi so high that it would be tough for him to constantly match up to that thus making him prone to criticism. It is to be seen if Congress high command gets impressed by Tharoor’s spin to his spin article!!
Some news has emerged that all may not be hunky-dory between Modi and Sharif. A Pakistan newspaper quoting PML-N sources has claimed that their Prime Minister was miffed with India’s ruling establishment for failing to acknowledge the importance of his presence in the swearing in ceremony. Apparently Pakistan wanted a joint press conference after Modi- Sharif talks. There was none and even a joint statement was not released. Finally both sides merely gave statement separately.
But Indian point of view is that all the SAARC heads were present in the swearing in and Modi had one on one talks with each of them. Thus it would have been unfair to give any special importance to Pakistan and discourteous to other esteemed guests.
Some sporadic news have appeared that even Sri Lankan President Mahindra Rajapakse was not too happy after attending the ceremony though exact reason of his displeasure is not known.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is shortly coming to India. Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is gearing up for that meeting. Today she tweeted that India’s envoy to China Ashok K Kanta has briefed her about various nuances of the Indo- Chinese relationship. Widening trade deficit between the two countries have been a concern for India and it is likely to come up prominently in the talks. China is reportedly not too happy with Bhutan being invited for the swearing-in. Now Modi has chosen to visit Bhutan as its first foreign tour. It will be interesting to track the reaction of the dragon nation.
The euphoria of the market is unlikely to cease any time soon. Nearly every day it is scaling new heights. The BSE Sensex and Nifty on Friday even surpassed the figures of 16th May. The Sensex today recorded a gain of 376 points to end at 25,396 while Nifty closed at 7,583, which is its maiden rise over the 7500 mark.
News that Modi sarkar could hike gas prices meant oil and gas companies recorded heavy gains with price of ONGC shares going up by 11%. If indeed government hikes the gas price it will be a shot in the arm for AAP, which is struggling to keep itself relevant after several high profile exits and rivalry between top party leaders coming out in the public domain.
Some interesting factoids have emerged regarding Modi’s meeting with top bureaucrats. Modi came up with a proposal which if implemented will earn him lot of brownie points especially from the youth. Modi has suggested that government should do away with the age old practice of seeking documents attested by gazetted officers. Often candidates seeking to apply for job etc. or beneficiary of government schemes have to run from pillar to post to get their documents attested. In any case original documents are verified in the final step. Thus Modi believes that only self-attestation is enough to save time and labour.
PM today blessed couple of young mountaineers who have reached the peak of Mount Everest. He congratulated them on their success.
Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said that he is looking forward to coordinating with the Prime Minister to facilitate the process of Pandits returning to the Valley.
Separatist leader Yasin Malik too today gave the message of peace saying every Kashmiri wants to see Pandits returning back to the state who were forced to leave more than two decades ago.
Not so calm message in Punjab though where clashes broke out at the Golden Temple complex between hardline Sikh activists and SGPC volunteers. The occasion was the 30th anniversary of Operation BlueStar when army entered the holy premises to flush out pro Khalistan insurgents.
Today the charge was led by SAD (Amritsar) leader Simranjit Singh Mann who demanded that a separate country for Sikhs should be carved out. When he was stopped from speaking within the complex, open fight started which left 12 injured. All the mainstream political parties have condemned the incident and Modi sarkar needs to keep a strict vigil about such possible flare up in future.
North East a part of India which has been often neglected by our policy makers is likely to get renewed attention if Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar is to be believed. He has laid importance on effectively joining that corner of India with other places of the country through digital connectivity. Javadekar said Centre’s special plans for the region will be unveiled during the Budget presentation.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who is preparing the budget is currently having hectic time juggling two major ministries. He will be in Mumbai tomorrow as Defence Minister visiting the Western Naval Command. He may get to see the salvaged INS Sindhurakshak which had caught fire last year killing brave naval officers.
Modi’s pet project of cleaning river Ganges is gaining momentum. A comprehensive plan to go about the arduous work in a systematic way will be unveiled by next month. Modi has roped in 4 Ministers to form an Inter-Ministerial group to expedite the work. The group comprising of Uma Bharati, Prakash Javadekar, Shripad Naik is headed by Nitin Gadkari. They are looking to emulate the model used to clean up Sabarmati river front in Gujarat.
Finally, a look at the key economic parameters as of today…