The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Difficult days

When in Gujarat, do as Narendra Modi does. The lesson does not appear in revamped NCERT textbooks, but it is one BJPwallahs are trying their best to learn by rote. Modi did not want party-pooper, Haren Pandya. So he is out. Now he apparently doesn’t even want Atal Bihari Vajpayee to campaign for him. Ahem! Thinking that was too much to carry out, saffronites have nevertheless gone ahead with chalking out the PM’s itinerary — public rallies on December 6 and 7. Eeks! That makes it even worse. For the 6th is the Babri Masjid anniversary and 7th when the Id moon is likely to be sighted. The BJP leadership is nervous that given the two occasions, it might be impossible for Vajpayee to deliver a speech that will cater to the expectations of the Hindutva brigade in Gujarat. Expectedly, he might be, for entirely “useless” national reasons, be pushed into delivering a sermon on communal harmony and the secular fabric of the Indian democracy — things which would, quite naturally, make Modi hopping mad. Does that mean we might see the prime minister developing another sore throat on the eve of his Gujarat visit'

Father of a party

The capital’s political class may have suddenly started to consider iftars passé this year, but not so the Kashmiris. The J&K chief minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, for example plans to make his party in New Delhi a memorable one. Eight specialized wazwan cooks, reportedly, are being flown in from Srinagar for the bash. The meat supplier has been asked to supply the dead animals whole. They will be cut up by the wazwan specialists because tabakmaz, goshtaba, rista and numerous other Kashmiri delicacies apparently require the meat to be cut up in a special way. There is said to be a mad rush in the media and political circles for an invitation to the dinner. But it is supposed to be the Mufti’s reputation as an excellent host that is cause for the race. Do we have to believe that'

House warming

A couple of Congress members of the Rajya Sabha were seen gossiping with scribes and fellow MPs in the Central Hall of Parliament over cups of steaming coffee, when one suddenly got up with a start and made towards the house. He also beckoned to his colleagues to follow suit. When asked why, he retorted, “We have to walk out in a moment.” Apparently, the Congress had decided to stage a walk-out following the government’s reply (whatever that would be) to the short debate in the house over the resignation of the Tehelka judge. And to walk out, you obviously had to walk into the house first.

Keeping aloof

Apart from walking in and walking out, the Congress seems to have lost much of its teeth of late. It quietly buried the issue of K. Venkataswami and also backtracked from insisting on a privilege motion against the home minister for “misleading” Parliament on the release of militants in Kashmir. Congress-insiders believe they have an explanation for this — the Samata Party MP, Prabhu Nath Singh, and his tongue. Everytime the Congress tries to browbeat the government, Singh is believed to invariably raise unsavoury allegations against the Congress president. The party goes through a hard time trying to control Singh. To avoid a sell-out, the Congress is supposed to be keeping away from zeroing in on the soft targets like Pramod Mahajan who has recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons. But for how long'

Way to break news

When Gaighata in the North 24 Parganas made its journey to hell is not known. That it was at all close to being there wouldn’t have been known had it not been for two leftists who made the long journey to no less than the chief minister’s house itself. There they broke down recalling horrific tales about the rape, abuse and killing of Bangladeshi immigrants. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, moved by the tale, and angered by the fact that his party had been a mute spectator and sometimes an abettor to the crimes, immediately asked for reinforcements to be sent there pronto. The accused apparently are now in jail. But does all such action need to be preceded by the drama'

Part of the family business

A family drama in the making. Initially, Mama Sonia was apparently pleased that partymen were seeking out son Rahul. But now Priyanka Vadra’s Amethi visit has added another dimension. While family loyalists are divided between their “love” for the siblings, sycophants are desperately trying to gauge the sentiments of the Nehru-Gandhi bahu — son or daughter' Whatever the choice, for now, the trio, mother-son-daughter, seems to be revelling in the spotlight.

To chase crooked shadows

The India International Centre has been steadily declining. A gem from its bi-monthly diary. It mentions among its defaulters “former senior defence services officers and a person who has been an international civil servant”. Crime — “tearing off pages from newspapers and taking away books without having them issued”. Not surprising, is it'

Different is as different does

He tied his own shoelaces, fed his hosts idli-vada, didn’t take off his trademark blue shirt on Independence Day when other presidents usually dressed to kill, and now he has reportedly called off the Rashtrapati Bhawan iftar. The political fraternity just doesn’t know how to deal with him and minority heads are quite upset that a Muslim president of the republic should have departed from tradition. In Parliament, Muslim MPs were supposedly heard asking curiously how Kalam would calculate the money he now wishes to divert from the iftar to be sent to the Gujarat victims. A former Union minister familiar with the ways of the government wondered under which head the money would be deducted and how the finance ministry could allow it to be routed to Gujarat. While those opposed to the president say that he should not have shied away from exhibiting a “pro-minority” tilt, others said it was useless arguing about “political gestures” with APJ Abdul Kalam who hadn’t visited the mosque inside the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Another president choosing to be “different”'

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