bElow The LINE

| Updated on October 24, 2021

Ingenious cabbies

As petrol and diesel prices hit the roof in Bengal — petrol at around ₹107 and diesel at ₹98 — the app-based cab drivers are adopting novel ways to negate the price hikes.

A majority of the these cab drivers have put ‘No AC’ stickers on their cabs or flatly refuse to switch on the air-conditioner during a trip. Some are smart enough to say that their ACs need repair and keep them off. And then, there are the even smarter ones who simply switch off the AC midway during a trip and then plead that keeping the AC on for the full trip will kill their margins.

However, if the user says he/she will pay ₹20 extra, then the ACs come on; even the ones which weren’t working until then.

Spirited sales

The Bengal Government never had it so good. If some local media reports are to be believed, the State sold over ₹700 crore of liquor in the run up to Durga Puja, which is more than half of the average monthly sales.

Sources said, over ₹700 crore of liquor was lifted from the State Beverages Corporation between October 1 and 12; it was closed from October 13-15 (Durga Puja days). The break-up shows that 1.46 lakh litres of country spirit, 38 lakh litres of IMFL and 44 lakh litres of beer were lifted.

Spirituality and politics

The politicians and legislators in Telangana appear to have been caught between spirituality and political considerations, thanks to the Yadadri Temple Innovation Project, which includes gold tapering of the vimana of the main temple with 125 kg of gold. The pet project of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Reddy has pushed the leaders of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) into a quandary.

After a personal donation of 1 kg of gold by Rao himself, some of the party leaders are now seeing donation of gold as a sure way to impress the Chief Minister who is known to be ‘very tough’ with his party men.

As a senior party leader observed in private, the situation is actually a win-win proposition for TRS leaders. With a donation, one can get the best of both worlds — spiritual and political.

“This is the best way to please both our Gods — Lakshmi Narasimha as well the Chief Minister,” quipped a senior TRS leader. Interestingly, over half a dozen MLAs and MLCs from the regions near the temple town have already announced their donations.

Still In limbo

Nearly six months have passed since earlier IRDAI Chairman Subhash Khuntia completed his tenure. There is still no sign of his successor and the IRDAI chairman post remains vacant. Buzz in the corridors of power is that the government may not show any urgency to fill the post. Reason: it may wait for the tenure of the current LIC Chairman MR Kumar to get over by March next year, and then look at filling the IRDAI chief post.

Now this is bordering on speculation. However, what is interesting and may become reality for sure is that LIC’s mega IPO (that could fetch at least ₹60,000 crore for the Centre) prospectus may get filed with SEBI in the coming weeks without a IRDAI chief in place, quipped a financial sector executive.

Another tricky situation for SEBI is: Who will it turn to in IRDAI if it had some issue with the LIC prospectus? Too many slippery slopes.

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Published on October 24, 2021

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