The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Imperfect picture

The swearing-in ceremony of Pratibha Patil as the president may have been a dream come true for Congressmen. But the occasion turned out to be a protocol nightmare. LK Advani was allotted a seat in the fourth row, behind chief ministers and governors. He was luckier than Milon Banerjee though. The attorney general did not even have a chair to sit on. Seeing a miffed Banerjee leave the premises, the home secretary, Madhukar Gupta, asked one of the attendants to bring him back and “adjust” him “somewhere”. The goings-on prompted a wag to comment that the oath ceremony was as chaotic as Patil’s campaign. However, the ceremony had its moments as well. A beaming Mayavati was seen with her arm around Sonia Gandhi. The next day, in Himachal Pradesh, Mayavati threatened to oust the Congress regime, while ecstatic supporters chanted, “agla pradhan mantri kaisa ho, Mayavatiji jaisa ho. Now, did we hear someone say that Sonia and Mayavati had made for a perfect picture'

Man of letters

The dust may have settled on the presidential polls, but the bugles have already been sounded for the vice-presidential elections. And the UPA nominee, Mohammad Hamid Ansari, is busy learning how to get his act right. Apparently, the former diplomat is pouring over two books to acquaint himself with the rules of the Rajya Sabha. Ansari was presented with the tomes by none other than Sitaram Yechury. The CPI(M) MP, one hears, had insisted that the UPA candidate for the VC’s post had to be someone who would be able to run a house full of elderly statesmen. And what could be a better way to control old learned men than brushing up books on the house rules'

Epic battle

The Mahabharata is being replayed, this time in Narendra Modi’s Gujarat. And for once, the chief minister has not been cast in the hero’s role in this epic struggle. The five BJP MLAs who had switched allegiance and voted for the UPA candidate, Pratibha Patil, during the presidential elections have been suspended by the party. But the suspension has not been able to douse their spirits. Having shown the courage to take on the mighty Modi in his own backyard, the rebels have now compared their battle against the chief minister with the one that is supposed to have taken place in Kurukshetra. The five MLAs have declared that they represent the Pandavas while Modi, in their scheme of things, is Duryodhana. Even LK Advani has been assigned a role — that of Dhritarashtra, and Yudhisthira is none else but the dissident leader, Gordhan Zadaphia. In Vyasa’s book, the Pandavas triumphed over the Kauravas, their arch-enemies. It remains to be seen whether the dissenters will be able to replicate the feat in kalyug.

Bowling bouncers to the PM

Manmohan Singh hardly ever gets angry. But thanks to agriculture minister and cricket boss, Sharad Pawar, one got to hear of an angry PM too. Pawar’s cricketing engagements, involving frequent foreign trips on private planes, are generating complaints from several quarters, particularly his own ministry. The PMO is peeved over the fact that Pawar has been going abroad without getting the required clearance from the PM. The Maratha warrior’s supporters counter that their leader should not need the PM’s permission to go abroad for BCCI meetings. And Pawar himself has claimed that he keeps his batting and bowling jobs only for the weekends and national holidays. But what does he have to say to partymen who allege that instead of preparing for the parliamentary polls of 2009, Pawar is busy bringing out new editions of his family publishing house’s English newspaper'

Finger trick

Common sense says that at least two fingers are needed to lift a glass. But Pravin Mahajan needed only one to hold a glass of water the day he shot his brother, Pramod. That must be the case, since fingerprint experts found only the mark of Pravin’s right-hand middle finger on a glass in Pramod’s apartment.

Words and deeds

Amar Singh has done it again. It was apparently he who made the BJP think that its presidential candidate, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, would get the support of non-Congress-Left parties — including Singh’s own, of course — if he contested as an ‘independent’. Which Shekhawat did. The rest is rather sad history.

Footnote - Written behind bars

It seems that the best place to write a book is the jail. The biography of Kiran Bedi, India’s most famous woman police officer, is all about her work in Tihar jail. Now another Bedi, who has seen a bit of jails, wants to turn writer. Monica Bedi, the former actress who was recently acquitted in a passport-forgery case, is supposed to have penned 400-odd pages that contain the “formal story of her life”. Monica also claimed that she did all her writing while shuttling between jails in Hyderabad and Bhopal. She said that her work is up for grabs for both publishers and film producers, and assured (anxious') readers that they would not be able to put the book down. Come to think of it, Bedi has certainly made a wise move. With big film offers unlikely to come her way, the best way for her to remain in the limelight would be to spill a few beans about her life with a dreaded gangster in the D company.

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