The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Father of the groom

In politics, less is always more. Or so believes LK Advani, who is yet to live down his early training in the ascetic RSS tradition. So his primary concern on the morning after his son’s wedding ceremony was, “Kuch jyada to nahin ho kar diya (I hope I didn’t overdo it)'” The deputy prime minister had little to worry about for given his stature, the actual ceremony was a rather spare affair held at the fully-secure precincts of the Air Force Auditorium, although the 800-strong guest list at the reception featured everyone from the president to, rather surprisingly, Mayavati. A shy person, Advani had to be even cajolled by his daughter into donning the saffron turban, the traditional gear sported by the men of the families of the bride and groom. Nevertheless it took his family and aides quite some time to assure Advani that his image as an honest politician who lived within his means would not be dented, even a wee bit, by the scale of the festivities. Good to know that simplicity still makes a political statement.

Birds of a feather

It was a case of Nero fiddling while Rome burned. Even as the CBI was chargesheeting him for fraud, Ajit Jogi was busy cutting a cake to celebrate his silver wedding anniversary and getting himself photographed as loving spouse to wife Renu. It was left to a rally of backward class students to mount the first line of defence in the streets of Ranchi to protest the “false charges” against the “son of soil”. Son Amit — dubbed the “Sanjay Gandhi of Chhatisgarh” — mounted the second line of defence in Delhi, by almost threatening various editors and news barons, to carry his father’s version of the story. When forced to confront the CBI allegations, the father put on a brave face about all the support pouring in from all over the country. “All” in this case meant just two — Laloo Prasad Yadav and Mayavati. With friends like these, who needs enemies'

All clear for the PM’s cars

We may be a democracy, but the prime minister is clearly more equal than others. The requirement that all imported vehicles be subjected to a homologation test, has been done away with for the three new BMWs acquired for the PM’s use. The commerce ministry authorized the waiver for the cars which stand out, rather starkly, from the mandatory white Ambassadors that make up most of the PM’s fleet. Sure, it doesn’t make sense to send all imported cars to Pune, which has the only lab in the country where the test is carried out. And the ministry is under pressure to do away with it. But the domestic automobile lobby wants to retain it hoping it will prevent the free export of foreign cars. Well, such lobbying is the other side of democracy — India-style.

A little spat between brothers

Come elections, and our politicians are at their very worst. So it is in the BJP too, where the tussle now is over matters as significant as rooms and name-plates. Amitabh Sinha, a party spokesperson, had been assigned a room to himself at the party headquarters. But in his absence — Sinha has since been put on election duty in Madhya Pradesh — his room was taken over by a “brother” (“comrade” in the parlance of the Ram-Laxman-Bharat party). In the capital for a brief sojourn, an angry Sinha removed his nameplate and locked his room. Now this “brother” has a problem — he had bought several Fabindia kurtas for his TV appearances and needs a place to keep them in just in case someone approaches him with “lights, camera, roll...”

Waiting to be grounded

Leave alone M Venkaiah Naidu, even god may not be able to help the aviation minister, Rajiv Pratap Rudy. His Bihar adversaries (Shatrughan Sinha among them) want him out. The Bihar BJP needs Rudy’s organizational capabilities, they have been arguing. Rudy has shot back saying Bihar needs Shotgun, not him. Our advice to him: fly low!

More influential than thou

In Bollywood, star secretaries carry far more weight than the stars themselves. And Rakesh Nath, alias Rikku, is the star of star secretaries. A former secretary of Madhuri Dixit, a failed producer and a man who was once grilled by the CBI for his alleged underworld connections, Rikku is quite a colourful character. Recently, he was in the news again for having delayed the release of Ram Gopal Verma’s Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon. How could the film be named thus without the consent of the actress' What about intellectual property rights' The connection between the two might baffle a little, but Verma apparently chose to avoid controversy and settled the matter amicably.

In her own language

At the launch of a newspaper in Bhopal recently, the sadhvi left no one in doubt that the bovine species was still a sore point with her. While castigating the press, she asserted that the media should not be treated as Varanasi ke saand (bull), or a sacred animal. The anecdote she related to drive home her point left many in her party red-faced. Uma Bharti recalled a former ministerial colleague of hers who, as a prominent editor of an English daily, had once called up Chaudhary Devi Lal, deputy prime minister in VP Singh’s cabinet. A simpleton and a rustic, Devi Lal spoke out, using the choicest of abuses. The next day, the newspaper was splashed with the obscenities, severely affecting Lal’s image. Uma’s story did not end here. She went on to say that later, when this particular editor became her cabinet colleague, the editor-turned-politico used the same kind of language, the medium being different this time, in her presence. Uma, as she would have her audience believe, gently reminded the minister about the indiscretion. What is the point Uma' Your virtue or the media’s'

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