The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Room with a view

Making room, quite literally. There was already speculation that the AICC reshuffle would bring in a new foal among the old Congress war horses. Changes in 24, Akbar Road show the rumours could be true. Madam, fully concentrating on efforts to set her stables right, has apparently shifted the party’s minority cell from the front-facing double rooms to the back of the building, thereby creating space for an additional entry into the AICC. Conventionally, senior members of the party like the general secretaries and vice-presidents occupied the front rooms. For the last few years, the minority cell inhabited one of the two rooms. The space was given to Arjun Singh as chairman of the cell, and later AR Antulay in the same capacity. But now a major decision following the mess up by Ambika Soni seems to have driven back the minority issue. The question is who will prove big enough to occupy the double rooms — the children, Priyanka or Rahul'

What will I be'

The child in a woman, and the saffronwallahs in Madhya Pradesh cannot babysit any more. Already riven by severe objections to Uma Bharti’s whimsical campaign in the state, the BJP could not contain the uproar that went up when the sadhvi decided to celebrate Hanumanji’s happy birthday with offerings of cake and candles. Caught on the backfoot, the party explained to everyone who was listening that the cake was not actually an egg cake, it was a milk cake or kalakandh. The opposition, quite obviously, was not all ears. The Congress alleged that not only the faithful, but Hanumanji himself had taken great offence for being plied with cake and candle. As proof, one had only to look at the way he had grounded Uma’s rath in the state. Others less spiteful of the sanyasin believe that her childish ways have much to do with her being deprived when she was “young”. Wonder how many children in the country get their cakes and candles!

Need for history classes

Slip is showing. Chandrakant Khaire, Shiv Sena MP in the Lok Sabha was doing exactly what he was expected to do — testing his lung power in the house by charging his rivals with corruption. The only problem was that he ventured a little too dangerously into history. Heatedly making a point, Khaire made a faux pas when he said that after Indira Gandhi’s post-Emergency electoral rout, the Janata government under VP Singh had given her a trying time. Poor Morarji Desai was cast into the dustbin of history and that too by a fellow Maharashtrian. Looks like our parliamentarians need more a lesson in history than in moral science.

Way to stay put

You’ve heard a part of this before, now for the latest. Krishna Singh, sister of our dear old Nandubabu, a 1966 Bihar cadre IAS officer, was due to retire this month, when she had a brainwave. She moved the personnel department sometime last year, saying that she had inadvertently given the wrong date of birth. It was actually a year later. Her word was treated as gospel truth and she was almost given a year’s extension when a spoilsport in the form of a senior IAS officer in the department of personnel entered the scene. He was hellbent on finding out the truth. Since the British examination system was still in vogue when Krishna Singh left school, our chap emailed to the relevant authority in England inquiring about Singh’s birthday as entered in the school records. At the payment of a few pounds, the information was sent pronto. It apparently said Singh was born in April 1943, not 1944 as she claimed. Not one to give up easily, the lady got a stay against her retirement and it is now for the government to make the next move. Which is unlikely. Which again means Krishna Singh may, after all, get the much sought after year in service she so passionately wants.

You may say I’m a dreamer

One trusted lieutenant of our Trinamooli didi has a dream. He had several, but that was before he geared himself to sacrifice his ambitions at the altar of party work. No repentances for that. Our Man Friday now sports two mobiles, shuttles between Delhi and Calcutta and tries does what he is told by Mamata Banerjee, usually always from somewhere on the Eastern Bypass. The inauguration of the new party office at Topsia is said to be a milestone for him, that is in terms of his dream-fulfilment. Having been to Jhandewalan sometime ago, he was majorly impressed by the spartan lifestyle of the saffron thinktank. The Trinamooli now wishes to import that ascetism to Topsia — a plan that has set his colleagues hopping mad. Apart from the obvious restrictions that this dream will impose upon them, party members simply cannot get over the hypocrisy at work. Our dreamer has his own AC, fully-furnished room at Nizam Palace, and one he is unlikely to give up even while his colleagues live out Jhandewalan in Topsia.

Playing to his own tune

Political dialogue, Bollywood style. The high profile, Samajwadi Party general secretary, Amar Singh, is hardly ever at a loss for words. So it was unlikely he would keep silent when Mayavati threatened to teach him a lesson. Having taken anticipatory bail, Singh openly accepted the CM’s challenge to visit UP and “face the music”. At a rally in New Delhi he referred to the threat and sent the crowd into peals of laughter while belting out the Mohammad Rafi song from the Shammi Kapoor starrer, Rajkumar, “Tum ney pukara aur ham chale aye, jaan hatheli par ley aye re” (You called me, and here I am, with my life in my hands). With that number, he also announced his plans to fly to Varanasi the next hour. Upon landing at Varanasi, he was promptly sought by scribes about his reaction to the Mayavati’s challenge. To that he answered with another Hindi song, this time from Jugnu. It went something like this, “Tera peecha na chodunga Mayavati, rajniti ki is khel mein, bhej de chahey tu jail mein” (I won’t stop following you in this game of politics, even if you send me to jail).

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