The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Just tuning in

Revenge could not be sweeter. Yanked down from his post as AICC gen-sec, and shunted to Srinagar, Ghulam Nabi Azad had done everything to escape fate — pretended ill and even contemplated retirement. But now, even while hunting for independents to swell Congress ranks, Azad can’t wait to get even with his detractors. Even happier that the crown might ultimately fall into his lap, is his wife, Shamim, the one who had once proposed that he retire. Mrs Azad, who incidentally is an excellent Kashmiri folk singer and has more than 250 songs to her credit, is supposedly looking forward to moving into the CM’s house and spending time with her parents who live in downtown Srinagar. The Muftis are equally elated. The news of the People’s Democratic Party victory coincided with Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter’s birthday on October 10. Sana, the Mufti grandchild, cut her cake in honour of Mom’s success while grandpa Mufti Mohammed Sayeed distributed wazwan to all to mark the two happy occasions. And guess what was playing in the background' — the original track of “Bhoomro, bhoomro”, later Mission Kashmir hit, sung by none other than Shamim Ghulam Nabi Azad. All in the family, isn’t it'

Hero to zero

Squabble in another family. Hero Salman Khan’s detention has brought out sharp differences within the Nationalist Congress Party-Congress alliance ruling Maharashtra. According to the NCP and the state’s deputy CM, Chhagan Bhujbal, it was a telephone call from a Congress minister that allowed Salman to walk out of the police station after paying a paltry bail of Rs 950. Bhujbal has turned the tables and now is hoping that Khan’s former girl-friend, Aishwarya Rai, will place on record all instances of physical abuse so that Sallu Mian, as Bhujbal describes Salman, can be kept behind bars for a longer while. Aish is however less enthusiastic. She appears to have told a friend that she is quite satisfied with the fact that the mosquitoes in the hot and humid cells are taking revenge on her behalf. Fair enough!

Many happy returns

Glamour boy of the Congress, Mukul Wasnik, who is AICC gen-sec in charge of the frontal organizations and happens to be CWC’s only bachelor, celebrated his birthday in style at 24, Akbar Road. His fan following, which has a high percentage of members of the opposite sex in the Mahila Congress and the Youth Congress, apparently said it all with flowers. Though it is supposedly not unusual to have women queueing up in front of Wasnik’s office, the head count was phenomenally high on the appointed day. Really, some people have all the luck.

And the award goes to...

The Kashmir results signal bad tidings for the BJP. A belligerent Jhandewalan has started doing a reappraisal of BJP ministers and is not amused with the performance of either the PM or the deputy PM, particularly the latter. In its estimate, it is the third of the famous trio, Murli Manohar Joshi, who bags full points. That is because this physics professor of Allahabad University has successfully implemented the saffron agenda in education, and most important, got the Supreme Court to assent to it. Quite unlike LK Advani, whose national security has turned out to be a casualty and worse, who has been constantly shifting his stand on Kashmir, Ayodhya and disinvestment. Which means Advani has only one card left — Gujarat. Hope he plays it right.

Keep him out of this

Talking of Gujarat, there was disappointment writ large on the face of BJP gen-sec and spokesman, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi,when he realized that his colleagues like Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and others had been invited to the brainstorming session in Ahmedabad last week hosted by Narendra Modi. Abbas has reason to feel bad as he is the lone Muslim office-bearer in the party. But the reason probably also lay in that. Post-Akshardham, there was obviously enough to be said in the session that would have hurt Naqvi’s religious sentiments. The pogrom is still on then'

Old man with a mission

A programme of his own. Oldest Congress leader, K Karunakaran, is off to the Gulf with his daughter, Padmaja, much to the solace of Sonia Gandhi, who has had a rather trying time with him recently. Karunakaran apparently has a large following among the Malabaris there and his visit is being seen as his effort to make this population acknowledge Padmaja as his successor. Brother K Muralidharan is sulking though. But this is an old man’s way of settling scores with a son who dumped his sister to buy peace with Sonia and AK Antony.

Facing the camera together

Of a son and a father again. Papa Suresh Oberoi will soon be quizzing star son, Vivek. The anchor of Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai, Farooq Sheikh, is going off to the US to perform and Suresh has been asked to stand in. And it is just a chance that the guest this time is Vivek. Keep him company, Suresh.

Their fathers’ daughters

The teen kanya of Calcutta's college para — the daughters of Anil Biswas, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Asim Dasgupta, Ajanta, Suchetana and Ujjayini, respectively — are the subject of much speculation among student circles. Which is quite natural given the high profile politicians they have as fathers. Everyone is curious to know whether they throw their weight about on-campus . In reality, however, all three are rebels in their own ways. Among the three, Ajanta, who is doing her MA from Calcutta University, and Suchetana, a third year Presidency college student, are both associated with politics as active members of the SFI. Needless to say they are bosom pals. So much so that Ajanta was reduced to tears last week when Suchetana did not do as well as expected in her BA Part-I results. The CPI(M) workers, however, couldn’t care less for Ajanta’s tears. Instead, they could see in Suchetana’s results proof of the fairness of the state education system. Now if this had been some other state, they said, Suchetana might have been first class first.

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