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Truly his better half

Subrata Mukherjee is extremely fond of his wife. Most men are, but few make such a public demonstration of their fondness. Take the recent face-off between the hot-headed mayor and the SSKM hospital super. Few people know that the patient at the centre of the fracas was a journalist who works for the same vernacular daily as does Mukherjee’s wife. Not that the lady instigated her husband to anger, but it was partly her wounded feelings that made Mukherjee let fly at Debdwaipayan Chatterjee. And this is not the first time Mukherjee has taken up cudgels on behalf of his wife. A few years ago, he and a set of his unruly followers had stormed into the offices of a well-known tour operator in the city, all because his wife’s parents, who had taken one of its package tours, hadn’t been properly looked after. The poor tour guides had had no idea the old couple packed so much political punch. To be fair to Mukherjee’s wife though, she has never had anything to do with his politics and has consistently refused all political office. The lady is known to have a bleeding heart for the needy and doesn’t mind using her husband’s office to do them a good turn. But she was rather miffed this time at his intemperate behaviour and even scolded him for getting carried away. To which, the mayor is reported to have told his friends in idiomatic Bengali: I keep house with a mad woman, 70 rogues and 40,000 sweepers. How am I to stay sane'


Lost in transit

Fourteen chief minister, numerous small and big political heavyweights and a battery of mediamen — the Mt Abu Congress pow-wow must have been a logistical nightmare for its organizers. And naturally there were some casualties. Like AICC treasurer Motilal Vora, who was stranded in Ahmedabad because Digvijay Singh and Kamal Nath “forgot” to take him along. The veteran Congressman had to hire a taxi to cover the tedious, four-to-six hour long journey up the hills. Later, a complaint was registered and apologies tendered. And all was well that ended well.


Too expensive for them

Royalty is all very fine, but it comes with a price tag as the Rajasthan unit of the BJP is discovering to its cost. Some time ago, BJP workers had complained to their party president that the new state chief, Vasundhara Raje Scindia, hardly ever visited and was neglecting her duties. Presumably, M Venkaiah Naidu had spoken to Vasu, as a result of which her son was despatched to Jaipur. The son landed at the party office with an architect who presented the state BJP office with a budget estimate of Rs 4 lakh for “necessary renovations” to the structure. Apparently, her highness finds the present office too dingy and shabby for a person of her stature to operate from. Now state BJP can’t wait to get her off their back. Which probably suits Vasu just fine.


Back in the US

Madhuri Dixit may be full of the wonder of impending motherhood, but the Mumbai show biz is not so enthusiastic. Already, Sony has taken its much-hyped match-making show, Kahin Naa Kahin Koi Hai, off air. Anyway, the show was never any great shakes on the rating charts. But strangely, Mrs Nene has no regrets. She has the “undisclosed” millions from the show to keep her warm.


Come, be our leader

Rahul Gandhi is in India, apparently for good this time. The Nehru-Gandhi scion has plans to set up a call centre in the capital in collaboration with a multinational. But Congressmen, who have now more or less given up hopes of Priyanka’s ever entering politics, are not ready to give up on Rahul. The National Sewa Dal has already passed a resolution requesting Rahulji to formally take over as its chief. They have even fixed an auspicious date for his anointment — November 14. Now if only Rahul would oblige.


What to do with a gift horse

Rahul Gandhi is not the only one who has political office falling into his lap. There is KC Pant who has no less than the prime minister calling him up with the offer to make him the BJP’s nominee for the Nainital byelections. But the Pahari Pandit, ensconced in the planning commission, did not find the idea of the rough and tumble of an election very appealing. For some reason, the PM was persistent — would his wife, Ila, be willing' No she was too ill. What about his sons then' No thank you, both were politically disinclined. Finally, a politician who knows his limits.


Third innings, anyone'

Remember Rajesh Khanna' The Seventies superstar and one-time Congress MP is apparently back in circulation, politically. Khanna who had entered politics after his film career had fagged out had gone back to Mumbai after his stint in Parliament. But an attempted re-entry into films and a television serial both came a cropper. And so Khanna is back and apparently wants a Rajya Sabha seat. But the Congress high command doesn’t much like the idea. The only option now for Khanna seems to be the Himalayas. Jai Jai Shiv Shankar'


ideas for the festive season

Diwali gifts are not merely Diwali gifts — in the national capital, they are also political statements. Take Sajjan Kumar, Delhi Congress strongman who sends a basket of gur and rewadias (sweets made of jaggery and peanuts) to fellow politicians and journalists in the city every year. The gift is meant to underline the rural roots of this two-time MP from the outer Delhi constituency. Then there was Rajesh Pilot who quite fancied himself a farmer’s leader. The late lamented leader had hosted an annual meal for journalists in New Delhi during this time at which he invariably served saag and lassi, and tried to recreate a rural ambience by having his guests eat from thalis off the floor.

This year, former Lok Sabha speaker Balram Jakhar hit upon a novel gift for his friends in the political and media circles — Rajasthani rajjais (quilts). The gift would no doubt come in very handy during the freezing Delhi winters, but the symbolism was also hard to miss. Does Jakhar apprehend a cold political winter too in the coming months'


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