The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ministers on the move

Shatrughan Sinha has a knack for staying in the news. Unfortunately for him, it’s more often than not for all the wrong reasons. Barely a couple of months into office, the Union minister for health is already a past master in the ways of ministers. For starters, Shotgun Sinha is hardly ever to be found in his seat. Apparently, his third-floor Nirman Bhavan office is being redone extensively and the minister cannot attend office until all the work is finished. And neither can Sinha go to the old first floor office because it is choc-a-bloc with those who have been forced to make way for the minister on the third floor.

Shatru, however, is not the only minister who is playing truant. Apparently, Union finance minister Jaswant Singh too does not find his North Block office conducive. He gets a strange, irritating smell there that no amount of pesticides and room fresheners can disguise. Pucca saffronite that he is, Singh has turned to astrologers and vaastu experts now to discover the cause of the foul smell. In the meantime, he is working out of a temporary office set up at his residence — 15, Teen Murti Lane. And no one has raised a stink about it thus far...

Food for the dog

Dinanath Mishra, a journalist who was elevated to the Rajya Sabha by the BJP presumably for his services to the party, has developed the tastes to match his elevated status. The Delhi press club, till the other day a regular haunt, is now infra dig. But Mishra hasn’t risen too high for PC to have lost all its uses. Mishra’s dog apparently loves the press club’s mutton tikka. And so the club kitchens have a standing order for two plates of the tikka to be collected by Mishra’s driver every day. Interestingly, mutton tikka does not figure on the menu for humans — only two plates of the dish are cooked in the day for Mishra’s pet. Some dogs really have it made...

Pass the laugh along

Competition among mobile phone operators has taken a rather hilarious turn. Short messaging service, or its more popular acronym SMS, has caught on like wildfire all over the country. But now cell operators have hit upon a clever idea to make them even more popular and increase their revenues. A “joke of the day” is sent at random to scores of gullible subscribers, who in turn pass it on to their friends and to thousands of others. Everyone seems happy with this arrangement — more so the cell companies who are laughing all the way to the bank.

Off with his head

Salt Lake is home to all the power people — everyone from patriarch Jyoti Basu to the police top brass, top bureaucrats and sundry celebrities. As a result, the lack of civic amenities, poor roads, glitches in the supply of water/electricity, and so on — that never even attracts comment in Calcutta — becomes news if it happens in Salt Lake. No wonder the inefficiency of the Salt Lake municipality is proving to be an embarrassment for the CPI(M). Jyotibabu, supposedly, was so disturbed by the rumours of corruption, that he read out the riot act to chairman Dilip Gupta.

Gupta promptly embarked on a damage control exercise.One official was transferred and another, already on an extension, was asked to go. But the left circles won’t rest until they have Gupta’s blood. It is Gupta, they feel, who is the root of all the shadow dealings. But will removing Gupta set everything right, that’s the million dollar question.

For madam’s eyes only

A letter a day keeps her happy all day. Sonia Gandhi has come to swear by a diet of a letter-a-day from Arjun Singh to keep her in the pink of political health. So secret are these daily missives from the wily strategist who seems to have been relegated to the backbenches nowadays, that Sonia shreds them to pieces immediately after reading them. Clever strategy to keep those like Ambika Soni, Ahmad Patel, and others — who seem to think they are her eyes and ears — on their toes.

Battle of the beauties

Kareina Kapoor may have lost the battle for now to Bipasha Basu, but big sister Karisma has joined the war. Shakti releases this week, and Lolo is confident that her power-packed performance in the film will take it far ahead of the leggy beauty’s Gunaah, which too releases this week. But pray, will someone tell us what Aishwarya Rai is doing all over the posters of Shakti' Isn’t the film supposed to be centred around Karisma' Or is this one battle Karisma has already ceded'

A new state for the tall man

If there can be an Uttaranchal, a Jharkhand and a Chhattisgarh, why not a “Bhojpur Pradesh”' Raising the demand for a new state for speakers of the Bhojpuri dialect is one Ratnakar Pandey, whose sole claim to fame is that he once taught Sonia Gandhi Hindi. The inscrutable lady, of course, neither denies nor confirms Pandey’s claim. But she does know the man — Pandey was once part of Rajiv Gandhi’s shouting brigade in the Rajya Sabha. Incidentally, Pandey has made another tall claim — of being the tallest Brahmin leader since Jawaharlal Nehru. India’s first prime minister must surely be turning in his grave at being thus invoked, but it is not clear what his granddaughter-in-law thinks, either about the comparison or the idea of a new state.

Wonder why the idea of a “Bhojpur Pradesh” didn’t occur to Laloo Prasad Yadav, the man who must be credited with popularizing the language at the national level. Or is he too busy nursing the damage done by one state carved out of Bihar to be thrilled at the idea of coming up with another'

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