| Mixed fortunes
Season of the goddess
If you are battling against a human tsunami to get a glimpse of the prize-winning Durga idol and hating every minute of it, then you might consider heading for a village called Mirati in Birbhum. The external affairs minister, Pranab Mukherjee, has camped here to take part in an elaborate Chandi Puja. Some people take to praying because things are not going their way, while some others just want to thank the divine beings for granting their wishes. In Pranabda’s case, it could be a bit of both. If the Russia trip had not happened, he would be thanking the goddess for being able to live up to Madam’s expectations. But in Russia, not only did the top leaders prove elusive, but Pranabda’s entourage was subjected to humiliating security checks. Thank god there are no scanners in Mirati, only dada’s chopper, a source of great thrill and astonishment to the villagers. So what if many Miratians have never seen a train in their life' Now they’ve seen a bird which swallows people, only to throw them up, all in one piece, on reaching their destination.
A view on crime
“Uttar Pradesh mein dum hai kyon ki yahan jurm kam hai” (Uttar Pradesh has the steam because of the low rate of crime in the state) was what Amitabh Bachchan claimed on a Samajwadi Party campaign before the UP assembly polls. A petitioner promptly asked for verification under the Right to Information Act. The chief election commissioner sent a notice to Bachchan. But the megastar’s lawyer did not venture into the national crime bureau report or any such source to back up the claim. He simply told the CEC that Bachchan, being a “resident” of UP, was entitled to his opinion of his state — and that needs no facts or figures. The commissioner agreed. The petition has been dismissed.
Better luck next time
Man proposes, political contingency disposes. Fifteen MPs from various parties had packed their bags to set off on an official junket when government intimation poured cold water on their travel plans. The Left was threatening the UPA coalition so badly that the MPs were required in town just in case there was a numbers-contest in parliament. Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, who was supposed to head the delegation, had a tough time quelling the anger of the MPs. (The anger is understandable, this was a junket where spouses were also invited.) Das Munshi has promised them a replacement around Christmas. Now that’s what we call an amicable settlement.
Give or take an ‘a’
Digvijay Singh has got a new ‘a’. No, not from Sonia Gandhi for good conduct. But the former Madhya Pradesh CM — now AICC gen-sec in charge of UP — has added an ‘a’ to his name, making the new spelling ‘Digvijaya’. Whichever soothsayer advised him on this ought to have told him that one needs a lot more than a letter of the alphabet to manage UP.
Guess who got the prime minister and the Congress president to do their now-famous volte face on the nuclear deal' No, it wasn’t another of those inner voices. Neither was it members of the Congress or its allies who were scared that their days in power would soon be over. Apparently, it was Hillary Clinton (yes, you read that right). According to the grapevine, when Sonia Gandhi had visited New York earlier this month, an aide from the Hillary camp called on her, carrying an important message. Sonia was told that George Bush Jr was on his way out and India ought to go slow on the nuclear deal. Not only that, Sonia was also promised that when the democrats come to power, they would do as India wished. The promise, that too from a woman plying the same trade, perhaps made Madam put the deal on hold. Who was it who said that a woman cannot be another’s best friend' They certainly can, at least in politics.
More cards up the sleeve
The nuclear deal is just one of the things that the Left has in store to put the government in a spot. The other issues are changes in the public distribution system and the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (wonder why the journos are only interested in the nuke deal'). Of the two, the stand on the ITPA is rather strong. The changes proposed by the women and child welfare ministry include prosecution of clients of sex workers and removal of children from their area of operation. For the leftists, these amount to depriving the country’s 15 million sex workers of livelihood and treating them as less than human by taking away their “dependants”. What say Renuka Chowdhury'
Footnote - The invisible man
Gopinath Muthukad is a Malayali conjurer who is famous for his vanishing act. Muthukad is now on tour, to mark the 60th year of independence. The magical mystery tour reached the capital from J&K, where the magician was to perform at the house of the defence minister, AK Antony, who too hails from Kerala. Muthukad arrived on the scene with his bag of tricks and was received warmly. He then busied himself in readying the stage while the guests took their seats. When he was ready, he waited for Antony to appear. This time though, the magician was in for a surprise. He realized that the raksha mantri, who was supposed to join him in the famous act, had disappeared! Antony, it seems, had left quietly to attend a meeting. A crestfallen Muthukad packed up and left, and the guests followed. Perhaps Muthukad would be better off practising the art of making the vanished reappear.