Several ministers of the Modi sarkar ventured outside Delhi today to get ground reports about their respective ministries. There was no slacking off in work even as the mercury rose to an unbearable level in major parts of the country.
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley was in Mumbai to check the operational preparedness of the Western Naval Command accompanied by Navy Chief R Dhawan. Navy has had an indifferent year with freak accidents being almost a routine including two major ones. Jaitley said that they were looking to see if there was any pattern to those accidents. Defence Minister stressed that maritime security will be one of the priority focus of the new government. Today he commissioned two new patron vehicles “Achok” and “Agrim”. They have been made at Cochin shipyard, an achievement by itself. However Jaitley said that delivery mechanism should be made faster not compromising on the quality of ships provided.
Jaitley who is currently multi-tasking later met various stake holders of the financial market in his capacity as Finance Minister. He met the financial sector regulators and asked them to coordinate in a better way. He also sought suggestion on containing volatility of rupee, a problem which plagued UPA in its last year.
Later Jaitley met representatives of top industry bodies like FICCI and CII. It is an open secret that majority of the industries wanted Modi sarkar to take charge and pumped in huge money into the campaign. Thus expectedly they have lots of demand from the new government. Apart from tax concessions they want Jaitley to employ non adversarial mode of collection.
Yesterday Finance Minister met members of the trade unions. Jaitley has an important task of maintaining fine balance between popularity and reforms while presenting his maiden budget early next month.
Parliament has just started but already political parties are plotting strategy to outmaneuver each other. Opposition parties know that they don’t have much leverage to embarrass the government in Lok Sabha. Thus the focus will be primarily on Rajya Sabha where NDA is in minority. Congress with 67 MP’s in the Rajya Sabha is looking to form an informal block of “secular” parties to put pressure on the government when they have to pass any bill. Veteran leader Sharad Pawar has apparently taken on the mantle to engineer this floor coordination.
The work however is much more difficult than it sounds. NDA is looking to divide the opposition unity and they may offer chairmanship of important committees to non-Congress opposition parties to garner their support. Also in economic issues Congress and BJP has similar agenda, thus potentially straining the secular block.
Newly elected speaker of the 16th Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan today met Vice President Hamid Ansari. Later she sought blessings of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Finally she met Meira Kumar, who had created history by being the first women Speaker of the house.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is looking for a comprehensive action plan to combat the threats of Maoism, terrorism etc. faced by Indians on a daily basis. He said such plan should have been placed earlier but hoped that it will be implemented soon.
Sources suggest government is mulling to chart a new course to check the menace of Maoism, which was dubbed by former PM Manmohan Singh as the greatest threat to internal security. Naxal management division is soon to be renamed as Left Wing Extremism division by the home ministry.
Not only a mere name change, if Rajnath accepts the suggestion given by heads of Central Army Police Forces, there will be a radical change in the entire approach. Government will revert back from “clear, hold and develop” strategy to “security first” technique which was used earlier. Here development work will only start in a Naxal dominated area after the entire place has been completely sanitized. This will be done to cut down on loss of life police forces suffer regularly. Also the forces deployed in this high risk region may be given special incentive like it is given to jawans working in North East and Jammu and Kashmir.
The thrust is to be slow, but steady for gradual success. There will be unlikely any courting of people like Binayak Sen and NDA government is looking to treat Maoist insurgency primarily as a law and order issue before delving into the complex social aspects of it.
On the other hand Minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju appealed to militants in the Northeast to abhor violence. Minister was in Assam on the wake of killing of a top cop and his assistant by Karbi insurgents. Rijiju said that Modi Sarkar wants a developed and stable Northeast. He urged the militants to give the new government a chance to show their good intention.
Foreign junkets for Ministers to attend different science seminars may well become a matter of past. Government has decided to discard the policy to give more exposure to the eminent scientists who will be leading the delegations from now on. This decision was conveyed by minister of state for science and technology Jitendra Singh who himself is a medical practitioner. But even he will not lead any delegation.
Union Urban Minister Venkaiah Naidu was back in Vijaywada, first time after taking charge. He said that Modi sarkar is looking for continuity in governance and will finish projects started by UPA worth around 5 lakh crores. Also highway expansion and rural development under grameen sadak yojna will get fresh impetus.
Naidu said that they will equally extend aid to both Telengana and Andhra. Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is back in Hyderabad and has pledged that both the states will be supported giving special importance to skill development. She also emphasized on promoting food processing industry in Telengana. Sitharaman and other BJP members will attend oath taking ceremony of Chandrababu Naidu.
IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has taken cognizance of the news that Indian government asked Vodafone to give access to do snooping in their network. It may become a major controversy if it’s known whose calls were being accessed by the government.
Continuing on the series of insensitive comments about rape by politicians Chhattisgarh home minister, Ramsewak Paikra, has said that “rapes are not intentional but happen by mistake”. Facing outrage he has now backtracked saying his words were twisted. At a time when Modi is asking his ministers to watch their words, insensitive comments by BJP leaders will only muddle his message. Modi needs to spread his message to the lowest rung that rapes can’t ever be condoned under any situation. Perhaps he can start the awareness by tweeting about it.
Finally, a look at the key economic parameters as of today…