The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A song for the road

Lalu Prasad, known for his home-spun wit, now has competition from another funny man from Bihar. The chief minister, Nitish Kumar, is making good use of metaphors and filmi tunes to pay Lalu Prasad back in his own coin. The other day, during Kumar’s month-long tour to discover the aam aadmi’s problems, someone happened to mention the Railways minister’s visit to Japan. Kumar feigned ignorance of his rival’s movements and instead started reminiscing about his college days during which he had watched Love in Tokyo. He also sung a few lines from the film’s popular track, Le gayi dil, gudiya Japan ki, to the audience’s great amusement. Soon he had them in splits for reasons other than music. Kumar said that Lalu Prasad would be heard singing Sayonara, sayonara (Goodbye, goodbye) — another song from the same film — after the people of Bihar sent him packing from his home turf in the coming elections.

Friends again

In the murky waters of politics, you can be friends one day, enemies the next. The reverse holds true as well. Take the foes-turned-friends story of Shatrughan Sinha and Amar Singh, for instance. There was a time in the not-so-distant-past when Sinha could be heard gunning for his Samajwadi Party counterpart by calling Singh unflattering names. And now, the two cannot stop flaunting their new found friendship. But their close ties, a little bird tells us, is based on mutual interest. Sinha is pressurizing his party to give him the Patna Lok Sabha seat. Else, he has threatened to make common cause with the Samajwadis. But what’s Singh’s gain in all this? Well, apparently he loves nothing more than sowing seeds of discord in rival camps, admit his friends and foes alike.

Different yet similar

Here is something more for Amar Singh to chew on. Many find it difficult to tell the Samajwadi Party apart from the Bahujan Samaj Party, but there are differences and here is one of them. In the BSP, when Mayavati is around, only she does the talking while the rest listen to her deferentially. In the SP however, it is only Amar Singh who speaks, and all the rest, including the boss, Mulayam Singh, do the listening.

Next question

There are television anchors and then there are television anchors. Barring a few exceptions, most members of this species, media experts point out, seem all at sea while handling the myriad issues that they have to deal with in their line of work. Recently, a well-known anchor of a popular Hindi television channel got the Union foreign minister, Pranab Mukherjee, as his guest. The ill-prepared anchor found the going rather difficult, and failed to engage Mukherjee in any meaningful conversation. At one stage, he reportedly asked Mukherjee that since Hillary Clinton is now in charge, and is likely to press for the implementation of the CTBT and other such treaties, would India have to fall in line? An exasperated Mukherjee answered that what the Americans do was their, and not India’s, concern. But when the anchor repeated his earnest question, the foreign minister, perhaps in despair, had little choice but to suggest that they move on to some other topic.

Permanent licence

The prime minister seems confident of securing another term in office. Here is why. While renewing his driver’s licence, Manmohan Singh had apparently put 7 Race Course Road as his ‘permanent address’ in the documents submitted to the motor licensing office. The renewal form has two columns: one for present address and another for permanent address, and Singh filled the latter by putting in the prime ministerial address. Some think that it was just a harmless slip but a transport official was heard quipping that Singh must have wanted to renew his prime ministership for five years along with his driver’s licence.

Perfect fit?

‘Baba versus Baba’ is a possible title for the coming elections, says an SMS doing the rounds in the capital. The battle for the ballot, it says, will be fought among the Congress’s Rahulbaba and the BJP’s old guard — Advani and Bhaironbaba (aka Bhairon Singh Shekhawat). One wonders what the other contenders for the PM’s chair have to say about this.

Honest confession

At first, everyone had put the gaffe to the wise monk’s advanced years. There were many dignitaries present on the occasion of the Madhavrao Scindia memorial lecture and the Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was the guest of honour. When it was his turn to speak, the man from Tibet rose to deliver his lecture. But, to everybody’s amazement and his own embarrassment, he forgot Scindia’s full name. Consequently, through out his lecture, the monk kept referring to the departed leader as the “late Scindia”. Most guests thought that memory was playing a trick or two on the Dalai Lama.

But the truth emerged a little later though. In a candid admission to Madhaviraje Scindia, the Dalai Lama said that he had found her husband’s name too long and too difficult to pronounce. Hence, he had taken recourse to an alternative.

On hearing his admission, none could suppress a smile, including Jyotiraditya Scindia, and the event carried on gracefully.

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