The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hero number one

A solution at last. Contrary to the popular joke, Pervez Musharraf would now have no problems accepting the deal if Kashmir is offered to him on condition that he also take a bonus with it, a bonus that is not Bihar (as the joke has it), but its Laloo Prasad Yadav (although there might be questions about for how long Musharraf may want to have him). Pakistan seems to have brought out the best in the Yadav. Besides his earthy humour, Laloo displayed an uncanny commonsense at the SAFMA conference, never striking a false note that might have ruffled feathers on either side of the border. He is even supposed to have gone out of his way to soothe wary members of his own team. For example, when Margaret Alva raised a shindig over Laloo getting prime location at a meeting with Musharraf when he commanded only 9 members in Parliament while Alva’s party had 110, Laloo apparently left his seat quietly to Alva and her men. Apart from his exemplary behaviour, Laloo also had his ready wit to take him to the front pages. At the inaugural ceremony, where the BJP MP read out the message from the PM, followed by a Congress MP delivering Sonia Gandhi’s message, Laloo is believed to have got up to say that his wife, Rabri Devi, too had sent her goodwill “message”. Surely, where there is so much goodwill, there must also be a way. But which way, Laloo'

One who missed the bus

There was another Bihari babu with Laloo Yadav, but his was a presence both India and Pakistan would like to forget. Ram Vilas Paswan, president of Lok Janashakti Party, was there with his bejewelled wife and younger brother in tow. The junior Paswan supposedly (and thankfully) never opened his mouth during the three-day-long conference, and what the elder Paswan said was embarrassing. To impress upon the delegates his greatness, Ram Vilas boasted innumerable times that he held the world record for having won his parliamentary seat twice with record margin and that he gave up his ministership in protest against the Gujarat carnage. But with Laloo around, Paswan should have known the futility of it all.

Lording it over

Talking about political rivalry, there’s no beating the Chattisgarh chief minister, Ajit Jogi. He is so determined to forget his state’s links with the mother-state Madhya Pradesh that he has reportedly asked his milk federation chief to change the name of the state-run “Sanchi” milk production. Jogi’s suggestion is “Devbhog”, which according to him would suggest that the quality of the product is superior enough for divine consumption. But would it establish him as the dev (lord)'

Running on four legs

Waiting to be slaughtered. That is what Sonia Gandhi feels. Which is why she is believed to have asked her four CMs of Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi to skip the prime minister’s summons for a CMs’ meet, and thereby avoid taking a firm stand on the contentious cow slaughter issue. Her CMs have however reminded her that no matter what, it is her wise counsel in the shape of Ambika Soni and Ahmad Patel which has ruined the party’s chances in the four election-bound states. The Madhya Pradesh CM, Digvijay Singh, is mostly getting the stick for his stand on the cow. Diggy argues that he had merely asked the PM to take “necessary action”, not much else. But that isn’t helping matters. The cow has suddenly become crucial for Congress fortunes. Opposition on the issue would rake up a Hindu storm and a close proximity to the right on the cow would deprive Sonia of a major chunk of left vote in Parliament. And thereby hangs the Congress tail.

Broken bonds

Come raksha bandhan, a sister will no longer tie the rakhi around the wrist of a brother. The bond between Bhai Murli Manohar Joshi and Behen Mayavati is supposed to have been broken. Joshi is now Mayavati’s staunchest critic. The grapevine has it that the turnaround was occasioned by Mayavati’s adopting Joshi’s rival, LK Advani, as her godfather. Should we call it sibling rivalry'

Get the meaning right

Reason for the saffronites to worry and the Hindi heartland to take heart — the Nehru-Gandhi bahu, Sonia, seems to have finally mastered the language of the belt. When an MP attacked the PAC report in the house last week in chaste Hindi (“Saanp ko kabhi chedna nahin chahiye. Usko khatm kar dena chahiye” — One should not provoke a snake. One should kill it), veteran politician Somnath Chatterjee was at a loss. He did not understand the meaning of “chedna”, and looked around for help. Sonia, who was sitting in front in the seat of the leader of the opposition, turned around and explained in Hindi, “It means tang karna”. Did she bother to tell Chatterjee what that means'

What’s in the age'

The heat is on Mukul Wasnik, CWC member and gen-sec in charge of several frontal organizations of the Congress. Senior leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Arjun Singh, Sushil Shinde and several others are mounting pressure on madam to divide the charge of these organizations and take away the Youth and Mahila Congress affairs from Wasnik — quite obviously their way of getting back at Ambika Soni, whose blue-eyed boy Wasnik is supposed to be. They argue that Mukul is not competent enough to handle so many responsibilities, particularly at a time when elections are approaching and the frontal organizations need to be strengthened. Both Shinde and Vilas Rao Deshmukh are believed to be especially upset with Wasnik for having ignored one Rohit Tilak, supposedly great-grandson of Lokmanya Tilak, and another relative of Lala Lajpat Rai. Another allegation against Wasnik is his appointment of over-aged people in the Youth Congress. One leader is supposed to be over 50 years of age. Tchh, tchh! Should need we remind them of Youth Congress’s overaged presidents'

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