The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Inspired by films

It was a theatre all right in Parliament last week, but let’s not miss the filmi-angle altogether. Mightily pleased with Koi...Mil Gaya, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had recommended the film to deputy LK Advani and wife Kamla. On the eve of the no-confidence motion, a special screening was supposedly organized, and soon after, Advani was discussing the finer points of the movie with Vajpayee on telephone (there was obviously so much confidence about the no-confidence motion falling flat). The Bollywood frame of mind was much in evidence in Parliament where Advani quoted Amitabh Bachchan on the Emergency. Sonia also did not miss out on Bachchanspeak. The importance given to the filmstar’s observations on national matters created a lot of concern among parliamentarians (as it does among the lesser mortals as well). After the first day’s debate, Congress MPs, Rajiv Shukla, Ratna Singh and Renuka Chowdhury, were heard speculating on why Advani had chosen to quote Bachchan who is, ahem, yet to make his mark as a historian. It was decided that the actor had been quoted to spite the Nehru-Gandhis, whose bête noire Bachchan had become. They may be wrong. For a bunch of parliamentarians who turn to Bollywood for sustenance, Bachchan might be the next best thing to Gandhi and Savarkar.

Change of face

Hold your breath. The Congress and the BJP might look the same soon. No, Sonia will not replace AB Vajpayee, but Vajpayee, like madam, may come to hold twin posts. The amendment to the party constitution affected at the Raipur national executive meeting make ex-presidents of the party eligible for another term after a certain gap of time. The move was seen as a clear indication that LK Advani would take over the reins of the party after M Venkaiah Naidu’s term ended in November. But now there’s a slight problem. Vajpayee loyalists now want their leader to be both PM and party president. Besides curbing internecine war, they feel, it would also strengthen saffron prospects in the general elections. A double mukhota then'

Say no to sweets

If you happen to be the PM’s guest, you can no longer hope to munch on sweets. The decision came after it was found out that despite repeated warning from doctors, there was no way the PM would give up on sweets. Whenever Vajpayee had a visitor, he would shout out, “Arre, mithai lao” (Bring sweets), and then help himself to a substantial amount of what was offered. That is when his foster daughter, doctors and senior officials put heads together to devise the plan. Should we feel sorry'

Hello and goodbye

Never at his wit’s end. The other day, while releasing a book written by the lawyer turned Congress MP, Ashwani Kumar, former president KR Narayanan was asked how a former president should behave. “He should just shut up”, said the ex-pres who had spent the good part of his life as a career diplomat. Narayanan supposedly had been bid farewell four times in his life — first, when he retired from IFS, second time as member of the Lok Sabha and a minister of the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1989. The third farewell came when he stepped down as chairman, Rajya Sabha and vice-president. And finally when he bid farewell to the Rashtrapati Bhavan himself. You say hello, we say goodbye!

From India with love

The Pakistan visit was an eyeopener in many ways. The generally tongue-tied MPs who seemed unaware of the world around them, suddenly displayed an uncanny wisdom when confronted with a microphone. At the dinner hosted by Punjab’s chief minister, Chaudhary Parvez Elahi, he looked for someone in the visiting side to respond to his welcome address. Zora Singh Mann, the Akali Dal MP from Ferozepur, did not disappoint. His brief and appropriate remarks made the subsequent dinner a convivial affair. Noting that both he and his host, Elahi, were Punjabi Jats, Mann recited an old Punjabi ditty. The little song so impressed the host that he left the high table to sit with Mann and a couple of other Indian MPs. One wonders why it was Laloo Prasad Yadav alone who stole the limelight in the India media.

Swallowing a bitter pill

Evidently, health affairs is not wealth for Surjya Kanta Mishra in West Bengal. His own partymen seems to be up in arms against him. The other day, his predecessor, Prasanta Sur, apparently rebelled against his closure of a polyclinic on Moor Aevenue in the Tollygunge area. Sur thinks if such polyclinics catered to the poor, there was a need for them to exist. New Left Mishra obviously does not think similarly. Apparently, Sur also got in touch with Jyoti Basu to rein in Mishra. There is again the virtual rebellion inside the party against the medical fee hike, apart from the resentment among other Left Front allies against the measure. Looks like Mishra will soon need a spin doctor.

Doing poetry some justice

If Didi is wading in poetry, can Dada be far behind' The Calcutta mayor, Subrata Mukherjee, is keenly following in the footsteps of his party leader, Mamata Banerjee. Though preoccupied with the corporation and several odd assignments like building flyovers and gates, Mukherjee finds time to compose poems. As the mayor himself puts it, “After a day’s hard work, when I go home and concentrate on writing poems, I find relief from boredom”. The subject of his verses are his day-to-day experiences as mayor of the Calcutta corporation and a heavyweight Trinamooli. Which means, never mind their rhyme or reason, Subratada’s poems may eventually turn out to be rich source material for those who may have to investigate the collapse of a particularly famous gate in the distant future. The mayor is supposed to release a compilation of 100 of his selected poems on September 10, on which day he will also be reading some of them out. Dada-dissidents however feel that this is his way of trying to get closer to Didi. If poetry is the key, what is Sudip Bandopadhyay doing'

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