Good intentions bring nightmares for BJP minister (Sidelights)

New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) Well-meaning gestures sometimes come to haunt politicians, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs S.S. Ahluwalia learnt it the hard way. On a visit to his parliamentary constituency Darjeeling to launch ‘Ujjawala’ free LPG gas connection scheme recently, he gave out his mobile phone number and said anyone facing problem could directly register complaints with him. His gesture turned a nightmare after a regional newspaper of north Bengal published his number. Ahluwalia was inundated with several phone calls from public that sought redressal of their complaints related to availability of gas cylinders. A wisened Ahluwalia finally diverted the phone calls to his office landline number to ensure his peace of mind.

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Marshals called to control crowd at ATM in Parliament House

Since the November 8 demonetisation, people are standing in long queues at banks, ATMs and post offices across India. And Parliament is no exception. Long queues were seen at both ATMs and a single post office in Parliament House on the very first day of winter session on November 16. From officials to staffs of Parliament, journalists and security officials, everybody was in a hurry to withdraw cash. On Tuesday, when few marshals of Parliament tried to withdraw cash afer breaking queue, others waiting raised objections. Following this, marshals from the Central Hall were summoned to control the crowd.

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Journalists defy guidelines

On the first day of winter session of Parliament on Wednesday, journalists didn’t bother to follow guidelines issued for the media by the Lok Sabha Secretariat. As West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reached Parliament House for her march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to protest against demonetisation , the media chased her to get a sound byte or record her activities. The situation turned for worse when former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and others reached there. Meanwhile, a senior journalist reminded Mamata of the guidelines that asked media persons not to interact or interview or photograph “anyone else other than ministers or MPs” without prior permission. Pat came the reply that apart from being a Chief Minister she is a former MP and Union minister too. For good measure, she said India is a democracy and not dictatorship. The directive also talked of “no interviews or enlisting of responses would be allowed” in some designated locations inside Parliament House. But journalist didn’t seem to care and interviewed politicians as per their convenience. Despite warnings from security officials, many journalists flouted the guidelines and followed Mamata all the way to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

–IANS

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