The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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The price to be paid

The family drama in the last few days of the monsoon session of parliament will have provided meat for many an episode of our saans-bahu serials. The image of an immensely powerful man, reduced to his knees by the doings of his professionally successful wife ' who could fail to see it as a story idea' Within parliament, the charge of the saffron brigade against P Chidambaram was led by the parivar's super bahu ' Sushma Swaraj. Despite the finance minister's plea of ignorance, the opposition was up in arms the next day and Swaraj was in full flow, talking about nepotism, the stink of underhand deals, the extravagant fees paid to Mrs Chidambaram every time she represented the CBDT. That was till she heard a quaint voice from the treasury benches which said, 'Don Romesh Sharma ke saath kaun tha, inquiry karo'. As Sushma stood gaping, a few others picked up the refrain. Swaraj steadily lost steam, and sat down eventually. But what was it that had punctured Sushma' It may be recalled that a few years ago, at the time of the arrest of the Delhi-based don, Romesh Sharma, reports had surfaced alleging a connection between him and Sushma's lawyer-husband, Swaraj Kaushal. Sushma had merely forgotten that those inhabiting a glass house could not afford to throw stones.

Without change

No end to the hatred for the parkatis, even though their haters may have now condescended to insure them against domestic violence. When a group of journalists sarcastically congratulated Laloo Yadav for the passing of the domestic violence bill in parliament recently, the RJD chief jokingly pointed to Kanti Singh and said that they had been forced to pass it because of 'pressure' from her. A little later, in all seriousness, Laloo added that the bill would affect only the 'hi-fi' women in the cities. In the villages, women would still prefer to eat both the jootha and joota of their men. Thank Laloo for the reminder that in India, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Join the gang

Laloo take heed. The Congress's list of Bihar party executives reads like a who's who of the criminal world. Digvijay Singh, AICC gen-sec in charge of Bihar, justifies the inclusion of musclemen saying that a party practising Gandhian values so long needed a dash of strong people in its ranks. Singh's recipe seems simple enough. If you can't beat the likes of Shahabuddin, join them. And what does the image-conscious madam have to say about his strongarm tactics'

Help in place

Having signed the biggest ever FDI deal with POSCO, Naveen Patnaik should have been in seventh heaven. Instead he finds himself grounded. While the left guns for his scalp and the BJP plagues him with chargesheets, his own partymen keep complaining about bureaucrats getting all the accolades. A desperate Naveen has turned to the media for solace. The Orissa CM was seen courting top media people at a dinner in Delhi early last week ' editors of English weeklies, a national daily, a TV channel specializing in sting operations. Could they help him please'

Side business

If you happen to enter a newly done up confectionery in this city for breakfast, you will be led, very politely, away from the seats which look most inviting, and herded to a side which already looks full to the brim. If you protest, the young waiters will plead 'house-keeping' problems and 'rules' which make no sense. While you eat, your peace in shreds by the munchings of the occupants of the next table, much too close for comfort, you can watch the other half of the shop being filled by the luckier few who cannot be stashed onto your side. Advice: if you can resist hunger and value peace more than a mushroom quiche, wait outside till you can see all the tables full on one side before walking in.

Stop the flow

Nagpur may be the biggest producer of oranges in the country, but Maharashtra's own Praful Patel, the Union civil aviation minister, prefers to have imported orange juice on Indian Airlines flights. In a letter, a resident of Nagpur is reported to have asked Patel how he expected farmers in the region to survive if he continued to prefer Dubai products.

Food for thought

The scheduled Congress plenary in Hyderabad, with typically veg food on its menu, will be a great disappointment for those breaking the Ramadan fast. Will madam rethink'

Bearing Rahman

Maa tujhe salaam. Life for AR Rahman is no different from his art. Which is why the music director is supposed to have declined giving music to any film showing nudity (this was even before his music was cut short by Mangal Amir Khan and he decided to stop lending his art to historical films). Besides being uncomfortable with the subject itself, Rahman was compromised by the fact that he was working from home then and his mother could walk into his studio anytime. The director's respect for his mother is legendary. There are other things the industrywallahs have had to teach themselves about Rahman ' that they have to wait for their prayers to be answered. As one producer put it, 'Working with him is like undergoing pregnancy. Initially, you feel like being on top of the world. But with each passing day, you start hating the troubles which come with it. Nine months after, when you hold the bundle of joy, you know its worth the effort. That's Rahman's music.'

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