No representative from the Ministry of External Affairs was present when the Parliamentary Standing Committee discussed the budget of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR). Only officials from ICCR came for the meeting and that irritated the MPs since the ministry funds the council and its budget was reduced drastically. MPs wanted to know why Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai was missing. The explanation offered was that Mathai was busy briefing Nepal's President Ram Baran Yadav who was visiting Delhi. However, NCP's D P Tripathi was quick to burst the bubble of the official explanation. He happened to have visited the Nepalese President and knew that Yadav was spending the whole day at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences getting a check-up. This created a flutter among the MPs. It was particularly embarrassing for Dr Karan Singh who wore two hats. In the absence of the chairperson Ananth Kumar, Singh was presiding over the committee, but he also heads ICCR.
She may have retired as President but Pratibha Patel still gets special police protection, which is only a shade lower than what she was entitled to as the President of India. When Patil and family went shopping in Delhi's upscale Khan Market during Christmas week, all traffic was temporarily diverted. Shopkeepers, who look upon the festive season as the busiest time of the year, were unhappy about the absence of customers. The former president still gets Z-category security while her husband and numerous kith and kin retain security status in the Y and X categories.
Anonymous opponents of Subramanian Swamy have organised a series of dirty tricks against him. First they brought out job advertisements that had his telephone numbers. Then they posted him packages of used condoms and raw meat. On New Year's Eve, the Janata Party President was confronted with yet another prank. A group of students on motorcycles turned up at his residence in Delhi claiming they had been given entry tickets for a New Year party at his house. The police had to be summoned to shoo away the intruders, who claimed they had been handed out the tickets at the Delhi University Metro Station.
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