The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Vaastu, wife steer Shotgun

New Delhi, Oct. 2: Armed with Vaastu Shastra, Shatrughan Sinha’s wife decides where the health minister’s chair, desk and commode will be placed.

From the floor where the new office is to be located to the colour of the walls, Vaastu dictates every little detail.

Sinha refused to sit in his office on the first floor of Nirman Bhavan after taking over because three, not one, is his “auspicious” number. Accordingly, directives were given to relocate the health minister’s chamber to the third floor. In the meantime, Sinha is holding durbar at his Talkatora road residence. “He is likely to shift to his new office on the 3rd, and not any other date, of a month,” an official said.

Poonam Sinha has taken charge of the renovation, giving CPWD workers a tough time. The minister’s wife does not want his chair or desk to be placed under a beam. She is still debating the direction that the water closet in the bathroom should face. While the east is auspicious, the west is not. The choice of colours for the office is limited to only three — gold, blue and brown. But while these colours are lucky on the walls, they will not do for the granite, which can only be a shade of brown. CPWD workers are now lugging granite slabs from Nirman Bhawan to Talkatora Road for the minister’s wife to select the right shade.

Even as the government spends a mind-boggling amount on the renovation, health policies are getting buried under the heap of rubble at Nirman Bhavan. Zooming in and out of the country, attending conferences or shooting for his television serial, Sinha is left with little time.

The minister inaugurates hospitals, calls MPs for a brainstorming session on AIDS that he himself does not attend and skips Parliament — failing to show up even to answer questions on his ministry. During the last session, he was pulled up by parliamentary affairs minister Pramod Mahajan for staying away from Parliament even when he was in the capital.

As Sinha approaches 100 days in office, officials in the health ministry are struggling to stitch up a credible performance record that they can put on his report card.

To make matters worse, Sinha’s personal secretary Satya Gopal and officer on special duty Orabhat Ranjan Das are busy fighting a turf war. The minister is counting on Vaastu Shastra to keep him in his seat.

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