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Sweet talk

A compliment from one of the world’s most renowned bachelors should naturally rattle. It would be more unnerving if the words came out in front of a hostile crowd. Which is why Sonia Gandhi is facing so much trouble digesting AB Vajpayee’s waxing eloquent about the “beauty” of their political relationship. Soon after the deed was done, former career diplomats in the Congress, CWC members, advisors and office-bearers came up with their own explanations of Vajpayee’s smooth-talk. The diplomatic corps put it down to the “Nehruvian influence” on the PM. The more political animals made a different sound, arguing that Vajpayee actually had a hidden agenda of seeking some sort of favour from the opposition leader who had a crucial say in appointments to some high offices. Even less sympathetic voices outside the Congress pointed to a growing “Sonia-Atal understanding” — while Vajpayee benefitted from Sonia’s presence, which continued to drive a wedge in the opposition, Sonia too gained from Vajpayee’s reluctance to pursue Bofors. Jhandewalan, typically, thought otherwise. It believes the sweet talk is AB’s masterstroke that will keep the enemy guessing. The Congress’s Srinagar conference had decided to target Vajpayee. Now the lavish praise would definitely mislead madam. Let’s hope the lady proves the Romeos wrong.


Still hoping

For some, politics is never to say die. Take ND Tiwari, still convinced that he is destined to become the next PM. Adding to that conviction are words of hope from Praveen Togadia, Ashok Singhal, George Fernandes and most recently Mulayam Singh Yadav. Dutt has been made to believe that if the Congress-led coalition comes to power, all anti-BJP forces would support his candidature against Sonia’s. This hope alone apparently prompted the veteran politico to come to Yadav’s aid in the recent drama in UP. Former Tiwari followers who had joined the BSP are believed to have switched boats to shore up Yadav on Tiwari’s prompting. Tiwari was also in the capital last week working on his dream. Die' Never!


Unhealthy enthusiasm

Health is wealth, and not just for those who have it. Which is why the Union health ministry has hit upon a novel method of creating greater awareness about health and family welfare. Between now and September 2004, the ministry will hold some 543 health melas in as many Lok Sabha constituencies. The intention however might not be as noble as it looks. Before the election campaign formally begins, the melas will be a sure-fire way to drive home the government’s achievements. The wealth of health, should we say'


Something amiss

We seem to be condemned to repeat history. Despite being sworn in as minister, there are chances Mamata Banerjee might play truant again. The problem this time allegedly is that she no longer has the core team with her that supported her as railways minister. Didi, apparently, has been making efforts to reassemble her men, now spread over several ministries. The problem is that the other ministers are unwillingly to part with them. So, there she goes again!


Son of a king

You can take a Bihari out of Bihar, but you can’t take Bihar out of a Bihari — they carry a part of Bihar wherever they go. Tejasvi, Laloo Yadav’s aspiring-cricketer son, had gone to Ajmer to participate in the All India Public School Cricket Championship. As he got off the Delhi-Ajmer Shatabdi Express, he looked around for the security apparatus befitting a chief minister’s son. The two men in uniform in attendance didn’t impress him; he wanted a government car to ferry him to Mayo College. The cops were helpless — their brief was limited to providing security cover. The young man was outraged. Loud voices were heard, the stationmaster and later, state officials, summoned to arrange for a car for sahib. But Ashok Gehlot was not one to give in to such tantrums and only gave in so far as to instruct officials to arrange a taxi. Apparently, he is now thinking of sending the bill to Patna for reimbursement.


Different Dara

They couldn’t have been more different. While one Dara Singh awaits death, another looks forward to living life as an MP. Wrestler-turned-actor, Dara Singh, was in the capital the other day to take oath as a legislator. Though lacking a formal education, Singh has a huge fan following in Punjab and Haryana. Long live Dara!


Actress strikes again

On a visit to see ailing MF Husain, Madhuri Dixit also dropped in to see cartoonist RK Laxman next door. Should we now look forward to seeing Gajagamini in cartoon'


All in the footwear

Reporters are supposed to be above party politics. And they are, but there are always exceptions. One journalist was attending Sonia Gandhi’s rally in Jodhpur, when he found that his chappals were missing. He raised such an outcry at the loss of the expensive footwear that even the chief minister got to know of it. And Ashok Gehlot immediately sprang into action. He personally hunted for the chappals, and even assigned the city's DM and SSP to the task. So grateful was the reporter, that on his return he announced that Gehlot was sure to return to power.

One might be tempted to laugh off the story, but for the chappal connection in the Congress. Congress folk-lore loves to recall how ND Tiwari picked up the chappals of Indira Gandhi at a public function, and how he was made chief minister of Uttar Pradesh soon after. Another notable chappal story is that of a Congress-woman from Himachal Pradesh who became president of the Mahila Congress after she found Sonia Gandhi's chappals for her at a function. And so there is hope for Gehlot yet.


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