If Barack Obama is the flavour of the month, then Dubya must be yesterday’s bread. The Obama victory has fuelled speculations about the chances of his predecessor sitting down to write his memoirs. If Bush is indeed going to write about his White House years, then publishers have one suggestion: he should take his time. An Obama-euphoric nation is in no mood right now to know Bush’s take on things, and it is highly unlikely that the Cowboy Prez will spice up his book with his many gaffes and howlers. Unlike in the case of Clinton, there is little chance that the overseas market will respond to a book written by the man whose world is infamously made up of America and its enemies. Ever since she said that she wanted to write a book, Bush’s secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, has been in great demand. And so has been another member of the Bush family. Yes, Laura Bush could outsell her husband, should she decide to write her memoirs. She has already inspired a bestselling novel, Curtis Sittenfeld’s American Wife. Middle-aged Americans, Sittenfeld says, “seem to have vaguely positive feelings about her,...and feel that they know surprisingly little about her”. What better way to cash in on these sentiments than to write a tell-all? Particularly when it is almost certain that her husband’s memoirs don’t have a hope in hell.
Waiting in the web
Books are passé for LK Advani. He’s been there, done that, and once the success of My Country, My Life was ensured, moved on to other things. Such as launching his own website. Besides being a special gift to the lauha purush on his 82nd birthday, www. lkadvani.in was also the BJP’s way of connecting with around 100 million new, tech-savvy voters. Each one of the several, shifting masthead pictures on the homepage catches the BJP’s PM-in-waiting in a different mood and bears images of the tricolour and the Parliament House alongside the words, “For a strong, prosperous & self-confident India”. The portal has 130 videos and over 300 photographs, including those of the Indian cricketers whom the Advani family hosted some time back. In the bunch of photos of Kumble, Sehwag, Tendulkar and Gambhir exchanging pleasantries with Advani and receiving signed copies of his book stick out three frames of the grand old man being hugged by his daughter. Evidently, someone had a lot of fun while putting together the picture gallery.
Mind the suffix
No one can doubt the fact that the BJP is a disciplined organization — even when its members are fighting. In Madhya Pradesh, a section of the party was convinced that one Jitendra Daga had got the ticket from Bhopal because of his proximity to Sushma Swaraj. Not that such things are unheard of. But out came the posters, and the slogans. The slogan that was framed for the occasion was: “Sushmaji ka lal/ Daga hai dalal (Sushmaji’s favourite/ Daga is an agent)”. Who but a member of a thoroughly disciplined party would remember to add the respectful ‘ji’ even at the height of agitation?
Poll strategy in banquet hall
In anticipation of the five-yearly national carnival called the general elections, many Delhi hotels are vying to be ‘happening places’ for one party or another. Some enterprising hoteliers have even offered discounts and packages to leaders and parties — including attractive offers on booking coffee shops and banquet halls for election-related strategy sessions, meetings and so on. In addition, some hotels have earned repute for being favoured by specific leaders. The politically ambitious ones in the Congress pack keep track of Rahul Gandhi’s evening engagements in the hope of getting close to him at some social do in one of his favoured hotels. Last heard, the young AICC gen-sec had issued instructions to keep his schedule under tight wraps.
Why only posh hotels, even the humble canteens at the party offices in the capital are doing brisk business, now that it is ticket-time. Groups of ticket-seekers, with their supporters in tow, lay siege to the respective party offices, waiting to corner senior leaders and plead their case. While hanging around, it is important to keep one’s energy up, as also that of the hordes that have been brought to the capital from the home constituencies. A look into the accounts (wherever there are any) of the canteens will prove that ticket-time is tiffin-time. Some months back, the Congress had shown the door to the old caterer who was in charge of chai-pani at 24 Akbar Road. Now a popular chain of south Indian restaurants has been brought in to start an outlet at the HQ. Not only has the canteen bills shot up four times, but ticket-seekers camping outside the HQ are also thinking up innovative ways to sneak inside to have some idli, dosa and vada.
The joys of giving up
Indian politics is a wonderful playground for GenNext. Jawaharlal Nehru wrote letters and books while in prison thinking they would be the best gift for his daughter, Indira. Indian prisons still harbour politicians, though it would be a bit far-fetched to expect a Discovery of India out of them. But this is not to say that today’s netas do not think about their children. In fact, some are so eager to secure their children’s future that they are willing to give up their long-held Lok Sabha seats in favour of their children. Take Sharad Pawar for instance. He has already sent his daughter, Surpiya Sule, to the Rajya Sabha. But now, the father is planning to move to the Shirur Lok Sabha constituency, leaving the more comfortable Baramati for his daughter. Just as Maneka Gandhi is thinking of letting her cub, Feroze Varun, contest from Pilibhit while she finds herself a seat somewhere nearby. Sounds like an insurance company ad, doesn’t it?