Campaigning during the Uttar Pradesh elections was no cakewalk. Thunderous speeches had to be made, rivals such as Behenji and Netaji ridiculed, and the masses had to be appeased. All this, unsurprisingly, raised the stress levels of the Bharatiya Janata Party president, Nitin Gadkari. To soothe his frayed nerves, Gadkari would often listen to his favourite Bollywood number — “Teri Meri Prem Kahani Hai Mushkil” — from the film, Bodyguard. On the campaign trail, Gadkari, who had stored this song as his mobile ringtone, would use his personal bodyguard’s cell phone to dial his own number and listen to it over and over again. One does not know what the poor bodyguard made of this, but his boss seemed unconcerned. Apparently, Gadkari got in touch with Salman Khan and his father, Salim, and confessed how much he enjoyed the track. A beaming Salman promised to hold a special screening for Gadkari after the UP elections are over. His busy schedule prevented Gadkari from watching the flick. But given the dire predictions for his party at the hustings, would Gadkari be in the mood to watch the film after the results are declared?
Sweet and sour
The leader of the Opposition, Sushma Swaraj, intends to distribute ‘Aakash’ — the tablet or the hand-held computer — in her parliamentary constituency, Vidisha, in Madhya Pradesh. She called on the Union human resource development minister, Kapil Sibal, for assistance. Sibal welcomed the initiative and promised all help. But he also advised Swaraj to find out from chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan whether internet connectivity was available in Vidisha, a backward district that is located close to the state capital. Sibal, Swaraj would surely admit, knows how to sweeten a bitter pill.
The governor of Jharkhand, Syed Ahmad, is unlikely to forget Delhi in a hurry. It wasn’t the cold that kept the Urdu writer-turned-politician awake at night but a rat. As the governor rested in his suite in Jharkhand Bhawan, a rodent reportedly nibbled at his hand. An alarm was raised, but the culprit could not be traced. Ahmad was rushed to a hospital where he spent the rest of the night, but the rat still had unfinished business. He bit the cook next. But luck ran out and the villain was caught soon. Since then, a hunt has been launched to rid the premises of rodents. But one hears that Ahmad is still not keen to visit Delhi.
Vilasrao Deshmukh, the Union minister for science and technology and earth sciences, and his deputy, Ashwani Kumar, can barely conceal their smiles these days. The reason? They have a new address in Lutyens’ Delhi. Prithvi Bhavan on Lodhi Road is the new state-of-the-art building that will house the ministry. Of the two, Kumar sports the bigger grin. The shift has saved him from travelling all the way to Mehrauli Road, which is almost 15 kilometres from Parliament. We hear that Mrs Kumar has taken on the responsibility of supervising the decor of the ministerial chamber of her husband, who would no longer have to travel a long way to get to work.
Delhiwallas were taught a lesson by the legendary Asha Bhosle recently. Bhosle was visiting the national capital to attend a function where she, along with Teejan Bai — the famous Pandavani singer from Chhattisgarh — were being honoured by a well known cola company. The award ceremony was being conducted in English.
When Teejan Bai came on stage to collect her award, she chided the organizers by saying, “Mujhe to kuch samajh mein nahi a raha tha. Aap log sab kya English mein boltey hain. Mujhe to yeh mahoul dekh ke dar lag raha tha (I did not follow a word of what the previous speakers said. Do you always speak only in English? I found the atmosphere frightening”).
Realizing her plight, Bhosle requested the speakers to switch to Hindi, but to no avail. Even when she said that she had come across a number of Hindi-speaking Indians in London, the organizers refused to take the hint.
But Bhosle’s revenge was sweet. When she was asked to sing a song or two, she retorted that having sipped the famous cola, she had developed a sore throat and hence was unable to perform.
Prakash Javadekar had gone to attend an election rally at Mayang Imphal recently. Among the speakers was one Maulana Abdus Salam, a Muslim candidate fielded by the BJP. As soon as Salam began speaking, everyone present on stage and in the audience started to shed copious tears, leaving the dry-eyed Javadekar mystified. Like most other politicians, the BJP leader is used to seeing people cheering, laughing and raising slogans during election rallies. Never before had he seen an entire political gathering breaking down in tears. On asking what the matter was, he was informed that the people were crying because they had been moved by the Maulana emotive appeal. Salam is supposed to be quite popular but has not won an election. Javadekar must be hoping that the election results will not force Salam to shed tears.