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DIARY


The Modi-fier

Behind every successful man, wise men say, there is a woman. But the lion of Gujarat needs no such help from the fair sex. For he has Sushil Pandit. It was Pandit, reportedly, who crafted Modi’s election campaign, leading to delicious victory. Little is known about Modi’s miracle man except that he started his career as a marketing executive with a leading Bengali publication before going on to launch a website and a PR agency. Our man joined the BJP in the Nineties and soon struck a chord with the likes of Pramod Mahajan and Sudheendra Kulkarni. In 1996, he was asked to manage the party’s election campaign. Remember India Shining? It was Pandit’s brainchild, it is heard. Okay, so it bombed, but the swallow had many summers ahead. He managed Uma Bharti’s victorious poll campaign in MP. It was then that Arun Jaitley assigned him to manage Gujarat for Modi. Pandit delivered handsomely, helping Modi to tide over the Congress, party dissidents, and anti-incumbency. With Pandit around, no wonder Modi doesn’t need lady luck.


Blame ducks

Who let the Congress down in Gujarat? Javed Akhtar, did you say? The latest rumour doing the rounds is that “maut ka saudagar” was a term coined by the Sholay scriptwriter. Whoever zeroed in on him had done his homework well. Akhtar isn’t about to dedicate his poetry to Modi. Going by his legal suits against the Gujarat adhipati, his next screenplay (is he writing any?) may well have a villain bearing the initials NM. He has, however, politely declined to accept credit that is due to someone else (Who? Sonia Gandhi? Janardan Dwivedi?) — adding for good measure that he would have used a far stronger term to describe Modi. This makes life a little difficult for Congresswallahs, having to look around for scapegoats to dump the Gujarat blame on. Party leaders have been traditionally good at this exercise. Abhishek Manu Singhvi is holding Ahmad Patel responsible, Digvijay Singh thinks the fault lies with state leaders like Prithviraj Chauhan, some are cross with Madam’s scriptwriters, and Arjun Singh thinks he “told you so”. It has struck no partyman yet that every one of them may be responsible in some way for the debacle in Gandhi-land.


Maya in the sky with diamonds

The sky is not the limit, not even in a Bimaru state like UP. After the bungalow her supporters “pooled” money and built for her, chief minister Mayavati has decided to gift herself a new jet and a twin-engine helicopter. The occasion? Her 52nd birthday on January 12. Two of the state’s secretary-level bureaucrats flew to Washington recently to finalize a deal worth Rs 51 crore. But she needn’t have spent such a lot of money from her pocket. Surely her supporters would have raised money for her flying machines too! What can they give her on her birthday now? Maybe some diamond nose-studs that she so loves?


Another star is born

Why does Indian sport look so sorry? Because all our sportsmen secretly wish to be actors. Gautam Gambhir, the southpaw opener who played some useful knocks in India’s T-20 victory, is all set to appear in the soap, Left Right Left. Are we to believe Gambhir’s argument that, hailing from an army family, he identifies with the serial’s depiction of a soldier’s life?


Humour in uniform

Around Christmas time, party animals in Chennai came under siege. The city police were on their toes, keeping an eye not on robbers or thieves but on young men and women, lest they commit sacrilege by drinking in public or indulging in indecent acts in the many beach parties on East Coast Road. At the end of the day, not a single case was registered, and it looked as if Santa Claus had gifted the cops lots of goodies in return for the favour.

Elsewhere, in Thane, roles had been reversed. Residents of Indira Nagar, tired of demanding a police chowki in the neighbourhood, hired some donkeys and marched to the local thana to stage a dharna. Human protests are one thing, but picketing donkeys are a bit too much, even for cops. Unnerved by men and animals, the police readily accepted the demand, and the crowd dispersed amidst lusty cheers.


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