The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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On the verge

Blessed be those dying on the border. The Bangladeshi immigrants, who recently served as ping-pong balls between the border security forces of two neighbouring countries, provided a rare opportunity for the much-neglected BJPwallahs in Bengal to show their faces to their mai-baap from Delhi, more precisely, LK Advani on a brief stopover in Calcutta from his Singapore visit to discuss the border issue with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. To seize their moment at the airport were the state BJP cadre. There was enormous commotion at the entrance as the security refused to accord the men the importance which, they insisted, was their due. Some, however, were smarter than the rest and managed not only to get past the security, but also to Advani himself. Which is why some others got pretty desperate. One prominent state BJP leader decided to strike bold and took recourse to the soft target — the immediate family members of Advani. He apparently approached Advani’s daughter with a line, he was quite definite, which could not but impress, “Hum log to yahan Togadia ke line le liya (Here we are now following Togadia’s line). His listener first looked the other way and then moved away. That was when our poor man was nudged sharply and reminded of Buddha’s presence. Would the dogged persistence have been rewarded had the CM not been present'

Image management

Full points to Sushma memsaheb. At a cabinet meeting to discuss the contentious subsidy for haj, the new minister for health put all her weight behind the retention of the policy and brought a smile back on the face of the civil aviation minister, Shahnawaz Hussain. Swaraj is said to have reasoned that the subsidy should not be seen in the context of minority appeasement. It was all about the government’s image. Even if the government was forced to dish out Rs 1,700 crore instead of the Rs 170 crore, the subsidy had to stay. Period. The prime minister nodded in agreement and our lady had her way. Good image manager, never mind if its hers.

In and out

Unhappy days are here again for Jana Krishnamurthy, ex-BJP president and former law minister. He was apparently keen to stay on but the deputy prime minister was keen to bring back Arun Jaitley. Jana had even allegedly threatened to take political sanyas and move to Chennai if he were removed. But neither did the BJP appear bothered, nor Jana too willing to carry out his threat. The resignation came without much hassle. Why, pray' That is because Jana is said to be keeping his fingers crossed about a governorship coming his way. Never say die'

Serving whose cause'

Another one keeping his hopes alive is Jyotiraditya Scindia. But he has reasons. The Congress president is apparently keen on remaining loyal to the memory of Madhavrao, and ready to cultivate the son. Congress bosses in fact were surprised when Jyotiraditya was recently invited to one of her informal CWC meetings. But someone as eager as Sonia to see Jyotiraditya succeed is Digvijay Singh, the Madhya Pradesh CM, who sees him as the nemesis of his rival, Kamal Nath. The Scindia allegedly had full moral and financial support from Singh at a recently held massive rally at Maha Kaushal, supposedly Nath’s turf. Happy hunting!

Still a girl

Trinamoolis are in a curious spot. Apart from the bad political patch, they are finding themselves hardput to handle didi’s naivete. Only weeks ago, there was this party member from a constituency near Calcutta. Her sob story of how regular physical abuse at the hands of her mother-in-law kept her from party affairs had didi in tears. Another aspiring MLA has asked didi for help against an abusive wife. He has didi’s full sympathies. Golden girl with a golden heart!

Cleaning spree

Former president, KR Narayanan, was in Bhopal with his wife, and chose to travel by rail. Digvijay Singh personally came to see him off at the railway station which was spotless and shining. A Bhopali walked up to Narayanan and thanked him for choosing the Indian Railways. “Please visit us again. Our station will remain clean”, said he. The ex-Pres is supposed to have agreed.

Dismal showing

Nothing works for Mohammed Azharuddin. His plea that the ban on him be lifted was summarily rejected by the Hyderabad court. His event management company also seems to be mismanaging most of the time. At a recent cine award ceremony, some invitees didn’t have a place to seat, others didn’t get to park their cars. Unfixed'

No phones please, this is public space

Gandhiji would perhaps have loved him. The Madhya Pradesh chief minister, Digvijay Singh, passionately hates mobile phones, preferring to leave his own lying with his personal staff. He insists that his ministers also leave behind their cell phones when they come for their meetings with him. His cabinet even agreed to a fine of Rs 1,000 for defaulters. So when a mobile rang at a cabinet meeting some days back, Singh saw red. The man behind the crime, a senior minister, Harbans Singh, had nothing to say in his defence. So he resigned himself to coughing up the stipulated fine of Rs 1,000. Two crisp Rs 500 notes emerged from the minister’s pocket, the chief secretary was called in and handed over the money. The finance cell of the state is now in a dilemma. Under what head should the money be deposited' Some suggested that the money be kept aside as kitty for chai-samosa parties. Diggy, however, is not too willing to have his ministers consume Rs 1,000 worth of samosas. But should he really have such doubts about ministers’ appetite for public money'

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