The choice was between an opportunity to attend the inaugural mass of Pope Francis I, and to pilot one of UPA’s keenly awaited food legislation in Parliament, and Food Minister K V Thomas is having to be content with doing his duty as a minister. The government wanted Thomas to represent India at the new Pope’s inaugural mass on March 19, and that had pleased the only Christian minister in the ministry, apart from Defence Minister A K Antony, no end. But it so happened that a special Cabinet meeting got slotted for March 18 to discuss and clear the ambitious Food Security Bill. The government also intends to place the Bill before Parliament on March 21 before the current session breaks for the recess. This leaves too little time for Thomas to fly to the Vatican and come back.
FOCUS IS BACK;
ABOUT three years after his visit to Niyamgiri Hills in Orissa that had led to the cancellation of Vedanta’s mining project, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s focus is back on tribals. At a meeting with party MPs from Orissa and Jharkhand on Thursday, he indicated his plans to convene a meeting of party’s tribal leaders from across the country to discuss the problems faced by tribal community and formulate party’s strategy. He is also going to revive tribal cells at the AICC and PCC levels. Given the fate of Vedanta project, the latest plan may set alarm bells ringing in India Inc.
CONGRESS MP from Uttar Pradesh Jagadambika Pal may have created a ruckus in the Lok Sabha over the supposed lack of allocation in his constituency in the Rail Budget, but it turns out that his area has received a generous sanction of Rs 125 crore for an ongoing work of doubling lines in this budget. Moreover, his is the only constituency where Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has visited for the inauguration of doubling works. After all this, the reason behind his ire, it seems, is that he did not get a train that he wanted very badly. But Pal has been politely told by officials that due to technical/operational reasons as well as resource constraints, that may not be possible.