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‘I’m jealous of Priyanka’ — how Sonia Gandhi reacted to WhatsApp hack news

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When hacking of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s WhatsApp amused Sonia Gandhi

Last week, the Congress claimed that senior party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had received a message from WhatsApp informing her that she was one of the victims of the recently discovered hack. But that wasn’t the first time the alleged hack was mentioned in the Congress ranks.

Just a day before the party’s announcement, the message was mentioned by former Guna MP Jyotiraditya Scindia at a high-level meeting of Congress leaders, chaired by interim party chief Sonia Gandhi.

According to one of the leaders present at the meeting, when Scindia brought up the message, Sonia chuckled. “I’m jealous of Priyanka… She is important enough to be hacked, but not me,” the leader quoted Sonia as saying.

At the meeting, Priyanka accepted that she had received the message from WhatsApp.

Jal Shakti Ministry gets two of PM’s trusted officers

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s increased focus on the water sector, two of the PM’s trusted officers have been given key charges in the Union Jal Shakti Ministry.

Debashree Mukherjee, who was a joint secretary in the PMO, has been brought to the Department of Water Resources as additional secretary. Bharat Lal had earlier been appointed as additional secretary in the Department of Drinking Water, and named in-charge of the government’s flagship ‘Har Ghar Nal Se Jal’ programme.

Both officers have vast experience in the water sector.

Mukherjee, a 1991-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, was the Delhi Jal Board chief executive during the Sheila Dikshit government in Delhi. A post-graduate in water and environment management from UK’s Loughborough University, she handled infrastructure and social sector as joint secretary in Prime Minister’s Office. She was known for her no-nonsense approach while reviewing government programmes with respective line ministries during her PMO tenure.

Lal, a 1988-batch Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer was behind the Gujarat government’s model water supply programme, which helped the arid state get the second highest coverage — 79 per cent — of potable water supply to rural households in the country.

Congress’ new social media approach

The new social media chief of the Congress party, Rohan Gupta, has hit the ground running, and seems keen not to repeat what are seen as mistakes of his predecessor, Divya Spandana.

Gupta, who is originally from Gujarat and handled the party’s social media strategy in the state ahead of the 2017 assembly elections, is conscious of how Spandana’s approach was seen as heavy-handed and top down. To avoid that, the new strategy is to organise workshops for social media volunteers and workers of the party across states, to get ground-level feedback and attempt seamless communication. Such workshops were organised in Haryana ahead of last month’s assembly elections.

The new team is also aware of how relentless attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi have not worked out. But most importantly, there is a realisation that Sonia Gandhi as party chief should have a presence on Twitter. For that, a handle for the office of Congress president may be created soon.

(Contributors: Moushumi Das Gupta, Ruhi Tewari and Deeksha Bhardwaj)

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