All work and some play
It is perhaps Rajiv Gandhi's most lasting legacy ' prime ministerial holidays. Kovalam, Rajasthan and other favourites on the tourist track apart, India's youngest prime minister can be credited with making Lakshwadeep a fashionable holiday destination. The dour PV Narasimha Rao lived and breathed work 365 days of the year, but Atal Bihari Vajpayee revived the tradition with his sojourns in Goa, Kumarakom or Manali. Manmohan Singh's trips to Ranthambore and, last weekend, to the cooler climes of Himachal weren't exactly holidays. The over-worked PM was trying to mix work and pleasure, following doctors' orders to take it easy. Thus seeing his first live tiger in Ranthambore was a bonus, the real business was to talk to the forest officials there; in Himachal, it was to underline, with his presence, the importance of generating more power to officials there. Officials accompanying him were, understandably, uncomplaining despite being made to work on a weekend. They brought a smile to Singh's face when they recalled how Rajiv Gandhi had once held a cabinet meeting in a wild-life park, followed by a performance by Sridevi in the evening. One wonders if Singh would go so far. But if he did, who would it be' Mallika Sherawat or Aishwarya Rai' If his wife, Gursharan Kaur, had her way, it'd probably be bubbly Rani!
If the moral of Bunty aur Babli is that trouble comes in pairs, then it's a dictum that applies very well to Bihar politics. Remember Sadhu and Subhash Yadav ' the two brothers-in-law who were the bane of Laloo raj. President's rule in the state has been plagued by the Lovely-Sweety raj. These are the two worthy sons of governor Buta Singh. And now there come Bunty and Babli, as Arun Jaitley and Uma Bharti ' the unlikely pair who will be in charge of elections in the state ' have been christened by cheeky party-wallahs. In this case, the BJP will perhaps be hoping that two is for joy.
On the right track
The world may think of Laloo Prasad Yadav as self-serving, corrupt and inefficient, but Laloo Prasad Yadav believes he is the best railways minister the country has had since independence. The number of accidents has come down in 2004-05 to 234, the minister claimed recently at a programme to mark the completion of the UPA's one year in office. Not only that, passenger traffic had grown 6 per cent and freight 8 per cent in the past one year, as against an average of 3.6 and 4 per cent, respectively, in the last two decades. And what about his big vision ' the 10,000 km-long freight corridor' Lest the scale of his pet project escape anyone, Laloo was quick to remind everyone that since 1950-51, the railways had added only 9,625 kms of new tracks. He may have done all he claims and more, but given the condition of Bihar, people can hardly be blamed for taking all this tall talk as a big joke.
It's called being paid back in your own coin. KS Sudarshan finds that the demand he had raised about AB Vajpayee and LK Advani ' resign, walk off into the sunset while you're still able ' coming back to haunt him. At a meeting of the RSS bosses, Sudarshan was told to name his successor at the earliest. Sudarshan should be thankful that at least, his seniors didn't raise the demand in front of the TV cameras.
Et tu, Brute'
More trouble for the saffronites. Praveen Togadia and his associates haven't taken kindly to LK Advani's journey to the land of his birth. His expression of regret over the Babri demolition, especially, had them hopping mad. Having failed to be the prime minister of India, he perhaps now wants to be the prime minister of Pakistan, said Advani's dear Praveen-bhai. Or perhaps, he is now looking for Muslim support to become PM of India, says Ashok Singhal, equally snide. Perhaps they're just green...oops, saffron.
At home in the world
What goes up must come down. But how has Shivraj Patil, who was supposed to have done no good as home minister, redeemed his reputation so far as to be deemed 'much improved' in the report cards that went around on the completion of the UPA's first year' Did the 'Save Shivraj' campaign mounted by the denizens of 99 South Avenue ' Salman Khurshid and Jairam Ramesh ' have anything to do with it' Your guess is as good as mine.
Room with a view
Congressmen are like weather-vanes ' good at reading the weather, especially where the next fair wind is coming from. No wonder they are all flocking to Rahul Gandhi these days, bending over backwards to make their loyalties to the heir apparent known. Look at the rush to offer their rooms at the Congress headquarters to the young man, who is yet to become even a gen-sec of the party. Digvijay Singh has probably won this round, causing heartburn among Ambika Soni, Janardhan Dwivedi and their ilk. Rahul, of course, is yet to signal his formal acceptance, but Diggy raja's quarters had the most to offer by way of conveniences ' not the least of which is a kitchenette packed with Jasmine tea and Latin coffee. As Dwivedi had once said, tongue-in-cheek ' whatever else he'd done, the raja of Raghogarh had proved that he was capable of running a canteen. Dwivedi didn't mean it as a compliment, but a good kitchen is not something to scoff at.