Win some, lose all
Marry in haste, repent at leisure. The reality seems to have just begun to sink into Mulayam Singh Yadav. The outrage against the hike in petrol prices has left a more lasting effect on Mulayam than the fine food at the UPA’s third anniversary dinner, where he was spotted sitting beside a smiling Sonia Gandhi. Apparently, he is receiving calls every day from well-wishers who are urging the leader to distance himself from the United Progressive Alliance’s sinking ship. His camp has been counting the losses ever since he aligned himself with the UPA. But now the situation seems to be going out of hand. Of particular worry is the news from faraway Mumbai, where the national executive meet of the Bharatiya Janata Party threw up Narendra Modi as the party’s possible choice as the prime ministerial candidate. If Modi is the BJP’s star for 2014, the minorities will invariably back Rahulbaba as their safest bet against Modi. That would spoil all his chances of playing a dream role at the national level. So what next for Mulayamji? Play a spoiler himself?
Anna Hazare is obviously not the only one disappointed over the lok pal bill failing to get passed in the Rajya Sabha. The Union minister for health and family affairs, Ghulam Nabi Azad, shares Hazare’s feelings, although for an entirely different reason. It so happened that Azad was all set to visit Geneva to participate in the WHO’s health assembly. Tickets were bought, hotel accommodation arranged and Azad was readying himself for a week in the cool climes of Switzerland when the prime minister made a personal request. He was apparently asked to skip the Geneva meet so that the UPA’s precarious balance in the Rajya Sabha did not get diluted further. Azad kept the request, languished in the capital’s searing heat, but the lok pal bill failed to move.
Enough is enough
The 60th anniversary of the Indian Parliament turned out to be an unusually busy day for the legislators. After hours of debate in both the Houses, there was a joint sitting in the Central Hall in the evening. Following the speeches of the president, vice-president, prime minister and Speaker, there was a cultural programme to commemorate the occasion. That was the breaking point for many a MP. After one of the many performances of classical music, a parliamentarian, who obviously had not enjoyed the function, stood up, turned to his colleague and spitted out, “Once more?”
There are still many ifs before Narendra Modi becomes the party’s unanimous choice for the prime ministerial candidate. For example, Modi has to win an impressive victory in the state assembly election before his larger ambition becomes a reality. But there is no doubt that Nitin Gadkari has emerged a master strategist for his ability to get Modi to attend the party’s national executive meet in Mumbai. It is said that backroom manipulation, intrigue, the involvement of business houses and godmen made it possible for Gadkari to perform the miracle. Informed sources say that a businessman from Ahmedabad worked overtime to bring Gadkari close to Modi. Next, an Indore-based godman brokered peace. The godman is believed to have been instrumental in Gadkari’s anointment as the party president as well, and many RSS and BJP leaders frequently call on him to seek his blessings.
Despite all the fire and the brimstone, BS Yeddyurappa was there at the national executive meet. Days after he had threatened to quit the party (perhaps for the fifth time) and float his own political outfit on the eve of the raid by the Central Bureau of Investigation on his properties, Yeddyurappa was found mingling happily with fellow sanghis in Mumbai.
But why did he back out after going all out against the party? The credit for the taming of the Lingayat strongman apparently goes to Arun Jaitley, who is reported to have prevailed upon him to stay on. People in the know inside the party say that when all reasoning failed, Jaitley had politely reminded Yeddy that his exit from the party would only help his archrival and former CM, Ananth Kumar. With Yeddy away, Kumar would have a field day in the Karnataka BJP. The reminder obviously worked wonders.
For the creator of fantasies, it is most unfortunate to be grounded by reality. But that is how it is with Karan Johar, who turned 40 recently. His birthday bash in Mumbai had guests who belonged to Bollywood’s A-list. Johar was at his wittiest best during the party. The most sought-after director in Bollywood apparently told his guests that the first 40 years of his ‘childhood’ have been the toughest for him and that he hadn’t even had a big wedding yet. But since 40 is a round figure and he had completed 15 years in the industry, he had decided to have a big party. Johar described his life to be “personally bland” and “professionally spicy.” He was also heard saying that he did not think he wielded any power and that he was “never satisfied, never sure” and “insecure”. What do we have here, a true artist or an overgrown child?