$30 Million Jet
The India Aviation Show at Begumpet airport from March 14-18 was a tame affair. While delegates complained of poor response, visitors were disappointed by the static affair, since the planes were grounded, quite literally. In the 2010 aviation show, two pilots on board a Kiran Mark-II were killed when their jet trainer crashed into a residential building. Following the mishap, organisers chose to do away with the aerobatic display this time. So the show stayed safe this year but did not quite get off to a flying start. The Boeing 787-8 series Dreamliner was the only saving grace. If any stall was crowded, it was the food and drinks stall where many delegates and visitors chose to pass their time.
A surprise visitor at the show was Brother Anil Kumar, the late YSR's son-in-law. Outlook spotted Brother Anil checking out Embraer's Legacy 650. The evangelist spent half-an-hour checking out the 13-seater luxury jet which costs $ 30 million. One wonders if Brother Anil was doing a recce of the jet which would be more useful for his politician brother-in-law Jaganmohan Reddy. But since the YSR Congress leader is currently caught in the midst of a CBI investigation in an illegal assets case, a $30 million jet may not be a wise acquisition. Embraer officials are however hoping to make a sale.
Taking A Hike
While the average voter wonders how to cope with the extra expenses following Pranabda's Budget, Andhra Pradesh's politicians are coping by giving themselves a hike. A Bill to increase salaries and perks of the CM, Deputy CM, ministers, Leader of Opposition and Chief Whip is likely to be passed by the House this Budget session. Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy is all set to draw a salary of Rs 2.35 lakh a month while the others will draw Rs 2.27 lakh. Under the head "Own car allowance", both the CM and Opposition leader N Chandrababu Naidu will get Rs 30,000. As for house rent allowance, they will draw Rs 50,000. Their basic salaries are Rs 16,000 and Rs 14,000 respectively. So, it is all about roti, kapda and makaan for them too and a few extras thrown in like security car and camp office allowance. In all, the estimated burden on the exchequer is to be Rs 25 crore.
The twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderbad make little space for pedestrians and footpaths are a vanishing commodity. If in an adventurous mood, all you have to do is stand at Greenlands in Begumpet or Ameerpet junction and attempt to cross over. The experience is sure to leave you shaking. In fact, at a press conference, Additional Commissioner of Traffic Police C V Anand had admitted that even he couldn't cross the road without the help of his security personnel. Anand had said that he felt sad for women who would wave their hands helplessly asking motorists to stop as they ran across in fear. Hence pedestrians were an unhappy lot when Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy recently inaugurated a Bi-Cyclone Rally, a cycling event organised by the Hyderabad Bicycling Club. The sporty Kiran Kumar grinned happily as he hit the pedals wearing a tee-shirt and cap on the Necklace Road. In fact, he even managed to overshadow actor Venkatesh who cycled behind him at a leisurely pace. The rally was meant to promote cycling as an environmental-friendly and healthy means of transport. The government has announced that from 5 am to 7 am, half of the Necklace Road would be reserved for cyclists alone. Pedestrian rights groups are wondering when the CM will launch such an initiative to address the needs of hassled pedestrians in Hyderabad. As of now, the message that is going out is: if you can't walk, grab a cycle.
After a Supreme Court notice to the CBI asking it to probe six Ministers and 8 IAS officers in the Jagan illegal assets case, the ministers are a jittery lot. The notice to the CBI was issued with regard to 26 GOs (Government Orders) issued by these ministers and civil servants when Y S Rajasekhar Reddy was CM. The six ministers include P Sabita Indra Reddy (Home), J Geetha Reddy (Major Industries), Ponnala Lakshmaiah (IT), Dharmana Prasada Rao (Panchayati Raj), Kanna Lakshminarayana (Agriculture) and Mopidevi Venkataramana (Excise). Many of them are even seeking legal help on how to handle the CBI questioning and are studying all the GOs afresh. As the Telugu Desam is baying for their resignations, the ministers stand firm saying that all the decisions were collectively taken by the Cabinet and they should not be blamed. With the bypolls now over, it is likely that the CBI will begin questioning these ministers soon. Whether any skeletons will pop out, however, remains to be seen. As for Jagan himself, bets are placed every month as to when the Kadapa MP will be rounded up for questioning.
Predicting the Polls
The byelections to six Assembly seats in Telangana and one in Nellore district on March 18 passed off peacefully. While some voters seemed unwilling to step out in the hot sun forsaking the India-Pakistan one-day in Mirpur, the overall turnout was pretty good at 71%. IIIT students participated in the live webcast of the polls. While Jagan's YSR Congress looks set to bag the Kovur seat in Nellore, it appears to be a sweep for the TRS in Telangana. Congress MP Lagadapati Rajagopal who frequently indulges in poll surveys has a prediction in store. When the next by-elections are held in 17 seats where the Jagan-group MLAs have resigned, the Congress is likely to suffer a setback unless it begins campaigning early. Since Lagadapati's surveys are taken seriously even by the Opposition parties, the Congress would do well to sit up and listen.
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