The Telegraph
Sunday , June 3 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rusty edge

First there was Lauh Purush One. But the Jinnah controversy bared the chinks in his armour. He was succeeded by the chief minister of Gujarat, who loved to flaunt his credentials as Lauh Purush Two. But now Sanjay Joshi has raised doubts about Narendra Modi’s claim on the iron man legacy. Modi had flexed his muscles and elbowed Joshi out of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s national executive in Mumbai. Poor Joshi packed up his bags, booked a ticket and proceeded to board the train back to Delhi. But even before he could reach the platform, he was told to stop and travel to the capital by air. Apparently, word had reached Modi that his rival in Gujarat, Keshubhai Patel, had organized grand welcomes for Joshi at nearly every station on the way. On learning this, a nervous Modi got in touch with Nitin Gadkari who decided to direct Joshi to change his travel plan. Joshi’s supporters are now convinced that his tall claims notwithstanding Modi does not quite have nerves of steel.

Shooting trouble

Just before the national executive, the BJP got into spots of bother in Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan. BS Yeddyurappa was stoking the fire down south. Modi was sulking over the Joshi affair while Vasundhara Raje was throwing tantrums in Rajasthan. In this hour of crisis, the party turned to its chief fire-fighting man, Arun Jaitley, to douse the flames. But given the gravity of the crisis, someone suggested that even the mercurial Jaitley would need the assistance of the fire brigade on this occasion. Another leader quipped that the BJP should open a ‘trouble-shooting wing’. This division will be in charge of handling trouble makers in the party. But a few old hands are still not convinced. Given the party’s troubled fate, the troubleshooters, they fear, would soon turn into trouble-makers.

Food fetish

Secret fear

Laxmikant Bajpai, the newly-appointed BJP chief of Uttar Pradesh, has proved himself to be a true Brahmin. He wears his faith in the caste system on his sleeve. So much so that he refuses food other than that which is cooked at home.

But with great power comes great responsibility. Ever since he was directed to head the state BJP, Bajpai has been asked to give up his fetish for home food. He has also been ordered to eat food at other people’s houses. The tough bargaining session saw Bajpai agreeing to the party diktat. But being a politician, he managed to insert a solitary condition. He requested his bosses that neither onion nor garlic is to be added to his meals. But while striking the bargain Bajpai may not have thought his proposal through carefully. Hotel food, which is rich in the two ingredients that Bajpai abhors, has consequently been ruled out from his menu. In Mumbai, he was forced to survive on kachcha khana (uncooked food) — yogurt and fruits — while the others feasted.

Chained reaction

Still with Mumbai. During the national executive, the party’s managers sought to push through an amendment, granting a second term to the party chief on the basis of the broader understanding that there would be no debate on the controversial issue. But once the motion was moved, it got the goat of three diehard supporters of inner-party democracy. Sangh Priya Gautam, Hukmdev Narayan Yadav and JK Jain demanded to know why such an amendment was being passed. One of them even wanted to know the reason behind the hurry as there is still some time before Nitin Gadkari’s current term comes to an end. But their voices were suppressed. So much for inner-party democracy.

Silence, please

A number of chief ministers — be they from the Congress or from other parties — have expressed their displeasure at a junior cabinet minister, who is in the habit of giving unsolicited advice. The minister has built a reputation for landing the government in trouble by shooting his mouth off on matters that lie outside his purview. The latest from this foot-in-the-mouth adventure series is a letter he has reportedly written to some CMs on how to handle the tribal population in the Maoist belts. The CMs, some of whom have years of experience, have been fuming, much like the chief secretary who received an email from the minister seeking the release of an activist. Some leaders are saying that the government, perennially in trouble, can do without such advice.

Surprise move

Government officers in Uttar Pradesh have received tasteful furniture such as LCD television sets, sofas and expensive furnishing material. Guess who has sent the gifts? Nope, it isn’t the new chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav, who has presented the items. They are a gift from Behenji.

Apparently, Mayavati has had a change of heart, and she decided to return the sundry items that had been used to decorate her official residence in Delhi when she was serving as the CM of UP. Mayavati’s supporters are extremely pleased with the move. They argue that the decision goes to prove Behenji’s benevolence.

Some of the recipients have also expressed their happiness over Behenji’s choice of items. That may be because LCDs and sofas make better gifts than statues of elephants.