The media's meat is the sangh's poison and the Congress's reason to take a holiday. In the next 10 days, while the BJP eats its own words and forces LK Advani to eat his, and the media chews the cud, the Congresswallahs will be feasting in peace. The Congress chief, Sonia Gandhi, is all set to take off for Russia on Monday. Her shadow, Ambika Soni, has apparently taken 10 days' leave to tour the European capitals. The AICC gen-sec, Janardhan Dwivedi, has been granted a week's holiday to take his family out and the prime minister himself is already on his stress-buster weekend working holiday in Kargil-Siachen. Senior Congress leaders admit, with much glee, that Advani's slip of tongue has taken a load off their chest. Before the misadventure across the border, the Congress had been facing much heat over its climbdown on the UN security council seat. But the opposition's preoccupation with Advani has ensured that it can take its mind off the hotseat for some time. Happy holiday, folks!
Man of many parts
Laloo has competition. Soon after Sharad Pawar discovered his sportsman spirit, he came upon his abilities to be a showman of some calibre. At a recent national meet of the NCP that was being held at a plush hotel in Surat, Pawar arrived in a bullock cart straight from the railway station. The Maratha strongman got so carried away in the act that he was soon claiming that the NCP was the only real opposition to Narendra Modi in Gujarat. Pawar has also found that he can play the George Fernandes of UPA. Naturally, he has been busy trying to espouse the cause of lesser mortals in the UPA like Chandrasekhar Rao, Ram Vilas Paswan and HD Deve Gowda. What next'
For almost a week after Advani's infamous doings in Pakistan, the BJP did not have its regular 3 pm briefings at its Ashoka Road headquarters. There was an off-the-record meeting last Monday, but the spokesperson did not sit close to the microphone. The next day, just before Advani resigned, a briefing was scheduled, but scribes were told that it would be conducted by the education ministers of the BJP-ruled states who would talk about how the UPA was carrying on with its political agenda via education. One outspoken scribe advised them to refresh their history, as the questions from the media would be entirely on Jinnah. The ministers simply did not show up.
With the Karats in the lead, the Bengal and Andhra lobbies of the CPI(M) seem to be sinking into the backwaters of Kerala. Sitaram Yechury, formerly in charge of Bihar, has been divested of his responsibility and quite obviously sidelined. Biman Bose, in charge of Jharkhand, is to be replaced by Brinda Karat, who is also in charge of Uttaranchal. The person who has replaced Yechury is SR Pillai of Kerala, who speaks no Hindi. Looks like the left's dialogue with Laloo in Bihar is going to get more complicated.
Smoke without fire
The Union health minister, A Ramadoss, seems to have bitten more than he can chew. His ban on smoking onscreen has turned the world against him. What is worse is that it is still unclear if he has the support of the establishment. Witness this. The vice-president, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, recently gave out the bravery awards at a function held at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi on June 3. The awards were called Red and White Bravery Awards and the event was organized by a multinational company. How do you explain that, Mr Ramadoss'
First past the post
Despite being a strict disciplinarian, our dear old Manmohan Singh does not seem to have been very successful in infusing the administration with the same spirit. Soon after the much-talked-about appointment of Navin Chawla as election commissioner, another controversy hit the bureaucracy. An additional secretary in the I&B ministry was made a full-fledged secretary while eight officers senior to him were left sucking their thumbs. A fierce protest was lodged, and the government made amends (after much prodding) by promoting all the eight seniors to full secretaries. Did that set the record straight' Unfortunately, no. While the senior officers are still to be given substantive charge, our former Mr Additional Secretary already has his job cut out for him. Some people have all the luck.
All in the game
Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi may be caught in a nasty controversy, but in far-away Bhopal, he continues to be a popular man. Tales of his shikari skills abound here. A resort belonging to his nana, Nawab Hamidullah Khan, the last nawab of Bhopal, has a huge collection of tiger skins. Local folklore has it that at 16, Mansur Ali Khan shot his first tiger in Obaidullah Gunj, some 30 kms from Bhopal. The feat earned him the title 'tiger'. His father, Iftekhar Ali Khan, was also a renowned shikari who killed over a dozen tigers. Pataudi is supposed to have been so fond of shikar that he reportedly brought over his friends in the cricket circle to Bhopal. The practice stopped after the sport was declared illegal. The recent controversy has placed MP officials in a bind. There are over 20 'trophies' belonging to Pataudi which need to be registered. They consist of tiger skins, skulls of deer, bison and other animals. Ahem! That perhaps has to wait a little longer.