The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nation at a Glance

Shekhawat raps Sinha in House

New Delhi: Union health minister Shatrughan Sinha has not learnt from his mistakes. For the second time during Parliament’s winter session on Monday, he was pulled up by Rajya Sabha chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat for being too casual on the floor of the House, reports our special correspondent.

The minister was also criticised for taking certain questions lightly.

Sinha, replying to a question raised by actress-activist Shabana Azmi, described her as the best parliamentarian and praised former finance minister and Congress MP Manmohan Singh as very knowledgeable. But Shekhawat was not amused.

“Some adaigee (compliment) and bhoomika (introduction) was necessary,” the health minister said, sending members into peals of laughter. “If I praise a woman MP, members criticise me,” he added, quickly.

Shekhawat reacted by saying a “minister’s job is to give straight answers and not get into bhoomika”.

The chairman also refused Sinha permission to seek the repetition of a supplementary question on AIDS raised by BJP MP Lajpat Rai.

“Chairman Sir, I would be able to give a better reply if I could again listen to the first question of the member as I have prepared a lot on (the) AIDS disease,” the minister pleaded, prompting the chairman to turn down his appeal and continue with the reply.

Woman bags top post in TN

Chennai: Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa created history on Monday by appointing the first woman chief secretary in the state, reports our special correspondent.

An IAS officer of the 1968 batch, Lakshmi Pranesh replaces the mild-mannered Sukaveneshvar, who had not even completed six months in the job since his posting in June.

Pranesh, the fourth chief secretary since the ADMK came to power in May 2001, had been serving as the principal secretary in the food and consumer protection department. Her experience with the public distribution system would come in handy in her new assignment, as managing the PDS was politically very sensitive, sources said.

Sukaveneshvar had succeeded the high-profile P. Shankar to the post after the latter took over as the central vigilance commissioner. Environment secretary S. Ramakrishnan will take over as the new food secretary.

Sources said Sukaveneshvar had not asked for a change in his post but added that the decision was not sudden.

Though the reasons for shunting out Sukaveneshvar — posted as chairman of the Tamil Nadu Small Industries Development Corporation — are not clear, sources said it could be linked to Jayalalithaa’s propensity to “change officers”.

Centre fund for cane farmers

New Delhi: The Centre has initiated measures to pull the sugarcane industry out of crisis, including creating a corpus of Rs 786 crore to pay farmers, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Monday.

The Union government owes Rs 1,100 crore arrears to sugarcane growers, which is almost double that of last year’s figure, reports our special correspondent. Because of the arrears, the sugarcane farmers are getting a raw deal from mill owners.

esponding to a calling attention notice moved by Samajwadi Party MP Rama Shankar Kaushik, minister of food and public distribution Sharad Yadav said: “In order to mitigate the hardship of sugarcane growers, the government has decided to create a buffer stock of 20 lakh tonnes.”

Population control

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat directed the government on Monday to explore possibilities of enacting a law that bars persons having big families from contesting elections, after the two-child norm came up for discussions in the Upper House, reports our special correspondent. “If the House wants, we can give a day for discussion on this issue,” Shekhawat said, while reacting to Union health minister Shatrughan Sinha’s response to a supplementary question raised by Congress MP Abrar Ahmed.

Sinha, replying during question hour, said the government did not have any proposal to come up with legislation that disqualifies people with more than two children from contesting polls.

111-year-old dies

Bhilwara (pti): An 111-year-old woman of the Kazi community has passed away, her family said on Monday. According to her family members, Sultana Begum was leading a normal life till recently and died on Sunday after a brief illness.

Rajnath recovering

Ahmedabad (pti): The condition of national bjp general secretary Rajnath Singh, who was hurt in a road accident on Sunday, is stable, hospital sources said. “All necessary tests have been conducted and he is absolutely fine,” they said, adding that Singh will be kept under observation for 24 hours.

The ministry of railways will introduce steam locomotives on hilly routes and tourism circuits to boost vintage rail tourism. Minister of state for railways Bandaru Dattatreya said a shed at Rewari in Haryana would be used to preserve these locomotives.

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