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Coffee and sympathy
King Khan, as we are well aware, has a way with words. But that his oratory could make someone shed tears in real life was unknown, until recently, when he reportedly made his pal, Karan Johar, cry on Karan’s own talk show. It seems SRK was talking about his break-up with his former friends, Farah Khan and Salman Khan, when poor Karan was overwhelmed with emotion. Apparently, when asked why he was having such a lot of trouble with old friends, Shahrukh got into an introspective mood, and said, “I don’t know how to make friends, and if I do, I don’t know how to keep them.” He even added, “If Salman and Farah are upset with me, it is 100 per cent my fault. But I can’t pick up the phone and say sorry. I just can’t get myself to ask people to come back to me.” But Karan got really tearful once the badshah of Bollywood confessed that he can’t keep telling people that he loves them. “I feel it’s understood that I love them, if I have told them once. I can’t keep repeating it. Even in my films, I can’t keep saying ‘I love you’!”
Given the looming spectre of a cabinet reshuffle, some prominent members of the political class decided to keep their festivities muted. It is rumoured that the musical chairs in the Union council of ministers is not going to begin until makar shankranti, which is in the middle of this month. People are, nonetheless, on tenterhooks, not able to fully let their hair down. Although Ghulam Nabi Azad went off to Goa on a family holiday, most Congress ministers decided to stay on in Delhi, and even appeared to be working. The telecom and human resource development minister, Kapil Sibal, in particular, behaved like a right workaholic. It is believed that some leaders, including Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, were planning a trip abroad, but the horrid weather played spoilsport.
Who gets what
Needless to add, all sorts of guesses are being made about the composition of the revised council of ministers. There is a strong likelihood that S.M. Krishna, Jairam Ramesh and Anand Sharma would be moved out of their respective ministries. The grapevine also has it that Pranab Mukherjee may be swapping places with P. Chidambaram. Since preparations for the 2011 Union budget are in full swing, such a change may not be practical. The prime minister also, reportedly, received complaints from two party chief ministers about the functioning of the environment ministry, and is expected to attend to them with due seriousness.
Embarrassment of gadgets
Some may be wondering why the new chief minister of Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chavan, is yet to move into Varsha, his official residence in Malabar Hills, Mumbai. However, it seems that the man, who is known to be extremely conscious of probity, has well-founded reasons to defer his arrival at his new home. The word is around that Chavan wants the state’s public works department to remove some “personal effects” of the former chief ministers, Ashok Chavan and Vilasrao Deshmukh, from the house before he takes over. It appears that the chief minister’s residence has too many air conditioners and LCD television sets — with various parties making somewhat conflicting claims of ownership on these expensive gadgets. Therefore, until all confusions are cleared, Prithviraj has decided to put up at a government guest house. Better safe than sorry.
Can’t get no onions
Recently, Sharad Pawar’s ministry of consumer affairs landed in a soup that is being thickened by the ongoing onion crisis. But then, Indian politicians, known to be diehard optimists, are not likely to buckle under pressure. So, after consulting all concerned stakeholders, Pawar announced that prices would start coming down in 2-3 weeks’ time.
Almost immediately, the prime minister intervened and instructed the cabinet secretary to monitor prices on an hourly basis. No wonder the tone of the various secretaries in Pawar’s ministry changed radically overnight. In a hastily called press conference, it was announced by the consumer affairs ministry that prices would start decreasing in 2-3 days — not weeks.
On that particular day, however, the crisis was so acute that everyone was desperate to get onions at a reasonable price. So much so, the journalists gathered at the conference were heard urging the consumer affairs secretary to give them each a basket of onions — if not a solution to the problem.
Political parties are supposed to dance to the people’s tune, but some seem to prefer Bollywood music instead. In his hometown in Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party chief, Mulayam Singh Yadav, recently enjoyed a show put up by Ukrainian belly dancers at a jam-packed event celebrating Saifai Mahotsav, an annual cultural extravaganza dedicated to rural arts. Although Mulayam faced a lot of flak for this ‘indiscretion’, he’s certainly not an exception. At another rally, protesting against the corruption in the ruling government, the Bharatiya Janata Party took recourse to “Munni badnaam hui” to pull in the crowds. However, the BJP did not forget to put a spin on the chartbuster. As the announcer lamented from the dais, “Munni badnaam hui, sarkar tere liye.”