The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Something’s cooking

Move over Ram, its Krishna’s turn to take political centrestage. And who could be a better champion of the cowherd lord than Mulayam Singh “Yadav”, in his new, Hindutva-friendly avatar. The UP government has plans to spend rupees one crore to develop Krishna Janmabhoomi and has even sent a proposal to the Union culture ministry to develop the Braja belt, comprising the quaint little hamlets of Vrindavan, Mathura (Krishna’s birthplace and next on the VHP agenda), Gokul, Govardhan, Barsana and so on. Here’s hoping the Krishna Janmabhoomi doesn’t turn out to be as politically incendiary as Ram Janmabhoomi. But there is an interesting sidelight. The 14 kosi parikrama pilgrimage held around these towns is a big thing with Vaishnavs. But Mulayam, who is today playing up the Braja factor, had banned the pilgrimage in 1990, because he feared it would worsen the situation in Ayodhya. Unfortunately, the move to ban the parikrama itself served to put up the backs of Hindus. The rest, as they say, is history. And you know what they say about those who do not learn from history...

Designs in gold

N Chandrababu Naidu has designs on women in Andhra Pradesh...politically, of course. He wants to woo their votes with promises to build 25 lakh lavatories and to give away 20 lakh bicycles in rural areas. Even better, he wants to gift every bride below the poverty line with a gold mangalsutra. But has the Andhra CM sought the permission of JM Lyngdoh' If the no-nonsense CEC can take exception to schoolbags with Ajit Jogi’s picture on them, imagine his reaction to the mangalsutra — 22-carat, 18-carat, gold-plated, whatever.

She wears pants

For some unfathomable reason, Priyanka Gandhi is called “Bhaiyya sahab” in Amethi and Rae Bareli, the constituencies of her grandmother and mother, respectively. Indira Gandhi used to be called the only man in the Congress party, and Rajiv was everybody’s bhaiyya. Is it because Priyanka is the only hope for the Congress in UP'

Calling on George

Wasn’t Vincent George supposed to be politically sidelined' Not if the number of people who call on him every day is any criterion. And these are not merely ordinary Congress-workers — among his visitors are senior leaders, chief ministers, state unit chiefs and even Congressmen in other parties. The rush was especially strong on November 5, his birthday as well as that of party veteran, Arjun Singh. While it was only natural that every Congressman worth his salt would land up at the Singh residence, flowers and sweets in hand, guess who Singh visited to wish happy b’day' — George sa’ab of course.

Last action hero

Sonia Gandhi has had enough of passivity. With elections round the corner, she wants confrontation. She has lined up “hot” issues that she wants the state units to agitate about. Nothing wrong with that, except that it put Pranab Mukherjee in a spot. For Sonia summoned the bhadralok chief of the Bengal Congress and ordered him to take up arms against the terrible healthcare services in the state under the Left Front — a la Mamata Banerjee. Now direct action is something Mukherjee has always shied away from. Leading a hunger strike for the first time in his life, the poor man had to be given Glucose and huge fans had to be installed to keep away the mosquitoes!

A touch of glamour

Come elections, and political parties can’t seem to have enough of Bollywood. The BJP has Hema Malini, Vinod Khanna and Shatrughan Sinha in its quiver. But it isn’t satisfied. It now wants the Dreamgirl to persuade Dharmendra and Sunny Gadar Deol to campaign for the party. Now is that quite politic'

Too early for rings

With a lover’s fervid imagination, Vivek Oberoi tried to make Aishwarya Rai’s 30th b’day a special occasion. There were 30 gifts — dolls, frocks, clothes worn in films, etc. All of them seemed to please Rai very well, but she drew the line at a gold-studded diamond ring. Oberoi will have to work the charm a bit more for her to accept that.

Marriage can wait

Political actions are like pebbles flung into a pond — the ripples can be felt far away. Take Rama Pilot’s decision to vacate her Lok Sabha seat and contest against Vasundhara Raje Scindia from the Jhalrapatan assembly constituency. Not only has it rattled the aspiring CM of Rajasthan, but it has also not gone down well with the Abdullahs of Kashmir. Not that the latter have any special love for Vasu. But the sudden decision of Rajesh Pilot’s widow has upset the wedding plans of their daughter, Sara.

Farooq Abdullah’s daughter was to have married Sachin Pilot later this month and preparations were in full swing for the nuptials. Even the Wazwan cuisine to be served had been finalized. Now the marriage has had to be deferred, thanks to the campaign duties of the groom’s mother. The initiative, apparently came from Sachin himself, a youth Congress worker, who was itching to do his little bit to shore mama’s chances at the hustings. The Abdullahs are not amused at this show of filial duty. But for Sachin, mama’s victory would make it a truly happy ending.

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