The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bent of a mind

Criminal mind. If the rapists of the Swiss diplomat in the capital sent the country reeling with the evidence of the working of their minds, politicos reacting to the grisly crime have not done too badly. Madan Lal Khurana, the saffron party’s chief ministerial candidate for Delhi, gave indications that the worst is yet to come for the city with his placid one-liner, “Rape has now become routine affair”, which set teeth grinding among women activists. Those visiting the deputy prime minister were even less timid. To LK Advani (who proposes death penalty for rapists despite being persuaded to believe that he is out of his mind by male members of his government) some pro-leftists apparently shouted, “Will the rapists also be allowed to go scot-free, just like those who demolished the Babri Masjid'” Advani was, quite obviously, badly stung. The deputy PM abruptly got up, folded his hands in a curt namaste, ended the interaction and walked off. A piece of his mind'

As he spake

Mind your tongue. The par katis have not yet forced his foot into his mouth, but Sharad Yadav might not be so lucky next time. On a recent tour of Madhya Pradesh, the Janata Dal (U) leader is supposed to have wondered aloud about the efficacy of eunuchs and film stars staying in a serious business like politics. The first group, which has such fiery leaders like Kamla Jaan and Shabnam Mausi, is already said to be waiting to teach Yadav a lesson whenever he ventures into their territory. One still hasn’t heard of responses from Yadav’s colleagues like Shatrughan Sinha, Vinod Khanna and Hema Malini. But Yadav would be well-advised to sit away from them in Parliament.

Waiting for the kill

Talking about political incorrectness, the Madhya Pradesh chief secretary, Aditya Vijay Singh, was apparently in a bit of a soup recently when he was asked to depose before a parliamentary panel for environment, forest and wild life. Singh, a self-confessed shikari, sought “space” for hunters like him who needed some concessions to pursue their hobby. If looks could kill, Margaret Alva, the chairperson, would have burnt Singh to cinders. Instead, the shikari was merely told that his comments were entirely irrelevant. But would that be enough to discourage hunters like Singh'

Change of guard'

The third in the saffron triumvirate, Murli Manohar Joshi, may not contest from Allahabad, following the unceremonious transfer of his favoured bureaucrats who had supposedly made winning elections an easy job for him. He is believed to be eyeing both Lucknow and Jaunpur. But the minister of state for home, Swami Chinmayanand, is apparently planning to shift to Jaunpur. Which leaves Lucknow. But that’s AB Vajpayee’s fief. Do we then read signs of a future political sanyas just in case Joshi moves into Lucknow'

Of fathers, sons and others

It’s election time and fathers are leaving nothing to chance. Congress veteran Arjun Singh, who already has a son comfortably settled as minister in the Digvijay Singh government, is said to be vying for a ticket for his daughter from Hauz Khas. Another old-timer, Subodh Kant Sahay, whose children are not of electioneering age, is trying to get his brother-in-law a ticket from Babbarpur. Meera Bhardwaj, sitting MLA from Mandawali, East Delhi, is said to be pitching in for her scribe husband. A shameful number of journos are in the rat race. All in the game, literally.

Flight of infancy

As junior commerce minister, Rajiv Pratap Rudy often flew in private airliners in clear breach of a government order for its men to fly the state-owned Indian Airlines. As civil aviation minister, the rebel in him has retired. He shows no inclination to have the order withdrawn. Which is why babus often stay put for days in a place at the tax payer’s expense when there are no IA flights. A strictly shut sky policy.

Driving Miss Madhuri

The Madhuri madness continues. After secretary Rikku Nath’s stint as director, Dixit’s driver, Chandar Singh, is giving final touches to his Bollywood dreams. So wait for Main Madhuri Dixit ka Driver Banna Chahta Hun.

Mistressing a new tongue

Not entirely for the love of the language. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s foray into Urdu has a political side to it as well, although the Congresswallahs may consider it to be a perfectly excusable one. The Nehru-Gandhi daughter is supposed to be learning Urdu and is said to have already mastered the art of signing in it. The emphasis, however, is more on brushing up spoken Urdu to sharpen her oratory skills than to breed a familiarity with Ghalib, Momin, Meer, Daagh or Faiz. Be that as it may, the political beti has not opted for any short cuts. So instead of going for a crash course in Urdu by correspondence, she is apparently learning the language from a university teacher in Jamia Milia Islamia. For the young mother, looking after her two children, this involves a considerable juggling with time. There is also the responsibility of nurturing the pet constituency, Amethi, besides going through Mama Sonia’s speeches to add the punch. But then if it were politics that drove Sushma Swaraj to master Kannada, there shouldn’t be anything wrong with Priyanka’s experiments with Urdu!

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