DIARY 08-12-2002

To school, to school Father figure Standing invitation Ride low for ever A small slip To fit them in Mutual admiration society

By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 8.12.02

To school, to school

Two men in Parliament seem intent on disproving vastu predictions that condemn the house to a destiny of rancorous debates and violent deaths. Who knows, they could even be feeling that one way to stop the deaths was to prevent the violent debates first. Anyway, with Manohar Joshi as speaker of the lower house, its occupants now seemingly get to hear less and less of “Pleaze, pleaze, take your seats, I am on my legs” and similar other remonstrations on the microphone. With his acumen, experience and no-nonsense attitude, Joshi is managing to establish some kind of order in the house. In the upper house, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat is trying out similar tricks to control legislators. Mixing tact with large doses of firmness, Shekhawat sees to it that the day’s agenda is conducted without much ado. When members insist on raising matters out of turn, he allows them to have their say, but only briefly, before moving on to the day’s set business. Both Joshi and Shekhawat do not spare the treasury benches when they feel they are being short-changed. The latter has even admonished cabinet ministers (probably his only chance to get back at them for having been denied the Delhi chief ministership). A few days ago, Shatrughan Sinha was apparently ticked off for not paying enough attention. Back to school, are they not? But have the backbenchers been taken care of?

Father figure

Double trouble. Apart from acting as Congress chief whip in these troubled times, Priya Ranjan Das Munshi has additional responsibilities these days. With wife Deepa away from the capital, Priyada is having to play the role of a responsible father to his four-year-old son, Priyadeep. As with his political role, Das Munshi, is trying to put in his best. Priya apparently makes it a point to rush home during lunch hour to have food with his son. At night, too, he is back home in time to see his child finish off dinner and to put him to bed. Then he tells him stories before tucking him into bed. Sounds good. At least one politician is trying to perform one duty of his.

Standing invitation

The day the news came that a Malaysia court had allegedly turned down India’s request for the extradition of the Italian businessman, Ottavio Quattrocchi, wanted in the Bofors investigation, BJP leaders were seen gently rubbing Congresswallahs up the wrong way in the central hall of Parliament. A young adventurous saffronite even pitched in that the Indian government ought to apply to the court of 10, Janpath to use its good offices to bring back its family friend and benefactor to India, if only to face a trial. Congresswallahs surely looked the other way.

Ride low for ever

There have been books produced on India and its trademark Ambassadors, and it is unlikely that the association will be easily broken. Despite the automobile revolution in India, the burra sahibs and mantris continue to ride the petrol-guzzling behemoths. When a senior babu in the commerce ministry recently proposed to acquire a Maruti-Esteem for himself, his superiors immediately balked at the proposal. That cars such as these require minimum maintenance for the first one lakh kilometres and is easy on petrol were of no consequence. There could be no exception made to the laid-down brand of car. Only secretary-level officers and ministers could make that choice, and an unpopular one at that if one went by the drivers’ consensus. The new cars invariably minimized the opportunity to make a quick buck on the sly because it was difficult to fudge the metres and since these required no regular visits to garages. Incidentally, the prime minister is likely to make the first bold departure from tradition by using a BMW limousine fitted with the latest gadgetry, security-fittings like bullet-proof glass and so on. Another vijay yatra?

A small slip

A few days ago, Congress honcho, Somen Mitra, is said to have walked into the chief minister’s chamber with a crony of his. A while later, they walked out, only to be confronted by a posse of news-hungry journos. They had talked of law and order, Mitra said, before launching into a diatribe against left misrule. Meanwhile, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, stepped out of his room and met the usual scene. Nodding his head absent-mindedly, he said, “Talking of law and order again. I see, I see”. He was in such a hurry that he forgot to mention to the scribes that Mitra and his colleague had just been into his room to apparently invite him for a marriage.

To fit them in

A AICC reshuffle seems to be on the cards which may see Kamal Nath, gen-sec in charge of Gujarat, bite the dust and Ghulam Nabi Azad get the lolly of AICC gen-secretaryship. Which means difficult times for Mohsina Kidwai. AICC treasurer, Motilal Vora may also lose out to either Murli Deora or Ahmad Patel. The change could also see queen-size Ambika Soni being cut to size for promoting scandal-tainted Rajinder Kaur Bhattal against Amarinder Singh. All in all, nice sports to watch again.

Mutual admiration society

That Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is quite a fan of the Indian captain is nothing new — he has made his admiration quite evident on the occasions he has had to felicitate him. But did you know that our cricket-loving CM is planning to build an “incubator” for cricketers right here, in the capital city of football country — an international cricket academy? At least, he sounded out Sourav Ganguly on the proposal — strictly in an undertone, of course — when he met the skipper at the high-profile inauguration of his wife’s dance school recently. Sourav was all smiles, but naturally, and promised to help all he could. But given how many proposals the CM has been churning out of late — each better than the other — and the rapidness with which he forgets them, the captain might be forgiven for having doubts about whether and when the grand academy will take shape. Bhattacharjee has already spelt out a condition — Tomader oi lokta noy (But “that man” should have nothing to do with it). Wonder whom he was referring to — Jagmohan Dalmiya, Subhas Chakraborty or Raj Singh Dungarpur?