The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Welcome all

Apart from the mayor’s, the other soul lying trapped under the rubbles of Mayorgate is that of our gallishbabu — the municipal commissioner, Debasis Som. The foundation-laying ceremony would have given him the opportunity to kill many birds (of prey) with one stone. The holder of a rank no less than chief secretary by protocol, Som would have been the one sending out the invitations for the grand occasion. Thus, apart from the deputy prime minister, Som would have had the vicarious pleasure of having his béte noire, both Mamata Banerjee and her anti-Som brigade of municipal councillors, become his invitees. And it goes without saying that as the mayor’s best man, he would have had the pleasure the running the entire show. That is, had it not been for the perfidy of one particular newspaper that went to town with the news. Sorry for gatecrashing!

Silent moves

Battle of wits in Delhi. The Sanjay Gandhi brigade, headed by Ambika Soni, Kamal Nath, Sajjan Kumar among others, have reportedly hoisted the veteran Dalit Congress leader, Prem Singh, as president of the party’s state committee and is projecting him as a potential chief minister. Sheila Dixit, naturally, is not amused. The tussle come to the fore at a recent meeting of Delhi’s block presidents where Dixit tried to stab Singh at the back. Arriving after Singh had finished his speech, Dixit related with great timeliness what the state president had allegedly told her only a short while back — “Sarhe char saal to aapne mujhe bolne ka mauka nahin diya, ab mujhe bolna par raha hai to mere gala thak gaya hai” (You haven’t let me speak for four and half years, and now that I have to speak, my voice is tired). Looks like Singh won’t have too many chances even four and half years later.

Family affair

The perils of living with the deputy prime minister’s sister. Each time LK Advani visits Mumbai, residents of the apartment where the VIP’s sister, Sheela Bhawani, lives, get nervous. Just in case the VIP decides to meet dear sis. Hours before this actually takes place, the congested area is converted into a fortress with sniffer dogs, black cat commandos and Intelligence Bureau sleuths swinging into action. Each visitor is frisked, each car searched. Advani, completely unmindful of the disruption caused, meanwhile gets on with the routine socializing and drives away in his cavalcade. The rest of the world obviously goes back to its private hell!

Keep safe distance

One for everyone. If Laloo Prasad Yadav has sermons for his wife if she fails to keep pace with him, there would be some for his ministers as well. There was much mirth in the Central hall of Parliament the other day when Laloo told Kanti Singh, RJD MP, as she approached the party chief to sit next to him — “Arrey, hum se door baitha karo, log kahte hain hamare sambandh hain” (You should sit away from me as people say we are getting close). Close call.

Everything in a name

Self-promotion, and no one does it better than our ministers. Vijay Goel, convinced that he had already done a lot for old Delhi, has turned his attention to the Red Fort. The minister intends to rid the fort’s lush green lawns of encroachers and vagabonds. Much of the work has already been done, with the ministry of tourism and culture contributing liberally to restore the old glory of the historic monument. Lest his deeds go unsung, Goel has brought out a 12-page booklet in Hindi listing his achievements. The main story on “Meri Dilli” is headlined, “Vijay Goel ke kaam har jubaan par” (Everyone is talking about Goel’s deeds). Glory be thy name'

Serving ministers

Indian administrative servants. One of the many to get the boot recently was the secretary of the minister of parliamentary affairs, Sushma Swaraj. This particular one had earlier served in the planning commission and has been sent back there, probably because he had not been suitably deferential to the self-important minister. Also because he had asked for leave during the monsoon session of Parliament when his minister would have been in top gear. Another sent packing is the director of public relations to Ajit Jogi’s state, Chhattisgarh. The officer was believed to be getting more publicity than the chief minister. Hope they get some peace in exile.

Just in Time

Unaware of the existence of Time, Virendra Sehwag, apparently gave a tough time to its correspondent, who wanted an interview for a cover story. Surely, Indian cricketers need a GK course before they play county.

What’s up guv'

Heaven seems to be smiling on Diggy Raja. Uma Bharti has been cut down to size (by her own party), the sadhus and sants seem happy with a yajna-crazy CM and now, Digvijay Singh also seems to have got a governor after his soul. Unlike his predecessor, Ram Prakash Gupta is giving a free run to Diggy’s regime. The earlier governor, Bhai Mahavir, had apparently been an active saffron campaigner and missed no opportunity to dub the state government corrupt and inefficient. Given the ways of “Goofy Gupta”, the local BJP unit is thus dismayed by the PM’s choice of guv in an election year. For the last two months, Gupta has been concentrating hard on tourism, travelling from one tiger reserve to another, taking boat rides by dozen together with his relatives and signing bills the earlier governor had sat on. Diggy is supposed to be busy encouraging the guv to go on a holiday to Kanha. Naturally, the CM would be there to make all the “necessary” arrangements, including a helicopter which would reach Gupta to Kanha in one hour flat. Little wonder Gupta is flying high.

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