The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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The heat is on

The election heat may have died down but there is no sign of behenji’s anger cooling. After the electoral reverses, Mayavati had cracked the whip against bureaucrats and police officers. Now others are facing the music. First, she disbanded all organizational bodies affiliated to the Bahujan Samaj Party and removed members of district advisory boards, thereby depriving them of their official cars and other parks. Even some of her most trusted ministers have not escaped unscathed. The PWD minister, Naseemuddin Siddiqui, a one-time personal security guard of the CM and supposedly the Muslim face of the BSP, was accused by Mayavati of being corrupt at a legislators’ meeting. He also got a mouthful for failing to mobilize his community’s support. A couple of other ministers were also ticked off for raking in money in the form of bribes. Meanwhile, the BSP boss has decided to be more accessible to partymen and district-level functionaries. Now that can only mean that there is more trouble in store for these men and women.

Healing touch

Here’s some news on Mayavati’s rival. Amar Singh is in Singapore for treatment, and he seems to have been dumped by his high-profile filmi friends. Jaya Bachchan travelled with him to the city-state but left after a few days. His new-found brother, Sanjay Dutt aka Munnabhai, who is known to have a cure for every conceivable illness on screen, is busy shooting in Goa and may not have been able to visit Amar because of travel restrictions arising out of court cases. What has kept Amar going though are the calls, not from Mumbai, but from Delhi. The prime minister is said to have been one of the callers, enquiring after his health and promising him every possible kind of assistance. Now, will this help the Samajwadi leader separate his real friends from the reel ones?

On the lookout

The Uttar Pradesh governor, TV Rajeshwar, is reported to be keen on a retired life away from the political din. As a result, the United Progressive Alliance is now frantically looking for someone to fill Rajeshwar’s shoes. A section in the government is keen that the man who replaces Rajeshwar lacks none of his tact so that Mayavati can be kept in check. But the problem is that there aren’t too many candidates around who can pass muster. Potential candidates such as Arjun Singh and H. Bharadwaj are considered to be ill-equipped to do justice to this crucial constitutional post. Motilal Vora is being seen as a possible replacement. Vora, who has had a stint as the UP governor, had done a fairly good job of handling both Mulayam Singh Yadav as well as Mayavati, and he apparently enjoys Manmohan Singh’s confidence in this particular matter. But then, Madam, one hears, is a bit reluctant to let go of Vora’s services as she has not yet managed to appoint someone who can manage the AICC’s coffers efficiently. So things are back to square one and the hunt is on.

Blame game

Who is to be blamed for the Congress debacle in Bihar? If Congressmen in the state are to be believed, it is none other than the state PCC chief, Anil Sharma. Sharma’s detractors are trying to convince top Congress leaders that if the man continues to be in charge, the party will soon be on the road to extinction in Bihar. History, they say, are on their side as well. In 1980, Sharma joined the Sanjay Vichar Manch, which folded up soon. Two years later, he cosied up to the Janloktantrik Congress, but this too didn’t survive. Bindeshwari Dubey and Bhagwat Jha Azad, two former chief ministers, lost their gaddis after they became close to Sharma, while Tariq Anwar lost Rajiv Gandhi’s confidence after he came in contact with the same man. JD Tytler, Sadanand Singh and V George have all suffered the same fate. Sharma is jinxed for the party, say his rivals, and needs to be removed if the Congress is to keep its shop open in Bihar. It remains to be seen if the Congress high command has time for such ‘reasonable’ demands.

Lessons abroad

A group of newly elected MPs have come up with a brilliant plan to beat the heat: an all expenses paid junket to America under the aegis of the Indo-US Forum of Parliamentarians. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the chairman of the forum, is leading the MPs, drawn from all political parties, on what is being described as yet another “study trip”.

Give peace a chance

After burying the hatchet with Big B, Shatrughan Sinha has now made peace with Rekha. The 30-year-old rift was settled amicably with Sinha’s wife, Punam, playing the lead role in pacifying the ageless diva. What’s more, Rekha not only agreed to forgive and forget Sinha, but has also given her assent to act with him in his forthcoming home production.

Expectedly, Sinha, too, appeared to be in a magnanimous mood after being forgiven. In a rare moment of introspection, he confessed that he and Rekha were not even on talking terms on the sets of Khoon Bhari Mang, 20 years ago. He also admitted that his barbs and sense of humour had been in poor taste at times. The Rekha-Shatru film, to be directed by Ramesh Talwar, is based on the play, Pati, Patni Aur Main, for which Sinha had won accolades from leaders such as AB Vajpayee, LK Advani, Sonia Gandhi and even Jyoti Basu. Talwar must be hoping that it becomes a hit with the aam aadmi as well.

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