Athawale ‘minister without portfolio’ evokes laughter

April 15th, 2008 - 10:00 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
(From the corridors of power)

New Delhi, April 15 (IANS) Ramdas Athawale, an MP of the Republican Party of India (Ambedkar) that supports the ruling UPA, had the Lok Sabha in splits Tuesday when he asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when his turn would come to become a minister. The MP from Pandharpur in Maharashtra raised the question just after the prime minister had introduced his seven new ministers. Though Manmohan Singh did not respond, Speaker Somnath Chatterjee gave the reply, assuring the MP that he would make Athawale a minister without portfolio. This caused the entire house to burst out in laughter.

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Sachin, Sandeep miss usual companions

Sachin Pilot, a young Congress MP from Dausa in Rajasthan, and Sandeep Dikshit, his counterpart from Delhi, Tuesday did not have their usual bench companions in parliament - Jyotiraditya Scindia and Jitin Prasada, who were recently made ministers of state.

Being first-timers in the house, the young MPs would sit in the same row and were often seen chatting and discussing animatedly. All this was missing Tuesday.

Scindia and Jitin were seen rubbing shoulders with their ministerial colleagues, while Sachin and Sandeep were discussing some issue together. Sachin was a strong contender for a ministerial berth.

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Chatterjee tries another tack to rein in MPs

Speaker Somnath Chatterjee does everything to ensure smooth functioning of the Lok Sabha. From showering brickbats to bouquets on members, he does everything as and when required. Tuesday he tried something else, but in vain.

He asked his staff to take down the names of those members raising slogans in the well of the house against price rise. He repeatedly warned that action would follow against those shouting slogans. His threats went unheeded, and he finally adjourned the house for the day.

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A changed Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi

The usual smile was missing from Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi’s face in the house Tuesday, the first day of the second phase of parliament’s budget session. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently divested Dasmunsi of the parliamentary affairs ministry. It has gone to Vayalar Ravi, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs.

Dasmunsi, popularly referred to as “Dada”, has been left with the ministry of information and broadcasting. As the parliamentary affairs ministry, Dasmunsi loved doing the floor management - mingling with members - and did it effectively too.

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Much applause for Raghunath Jha

For more reasons than one, Tuesday was a special day for Raghunath Jha, a senior colleague of Railways Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad. When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh introduced him as the new minister to the house, the members responded by thumping their desks vigorously.

Given his seniority, Jha was a front-runner for a ministerial berth from the RJD quota, but the wait proved quite endless. Jha as minister of state aspires to replicate in his heavy industries ministry what his mentor has done in the railways ministry.

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