DIARY 21-09-2003

All that glitters Modi has nine lives Green in the saffron party Making faces at the camera They know better It’s written in the surveys Unsuitable friends Memory of the mentor

By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 21.09.03

All that glitters

Vijay Mallya brings a glint to the eyes of fellow politicians. It might be his liquor connection, his playboy image, his high-flying friends, or it might be his pots of wealth. Or were they blinded by all the gold and diamond he wears? So when Mallya flew into Bhopal recently to assess the chances of the Janata Party — that’s the one-man outfit he heads — in the assembly elections, he was given a rousing welcome. “Agar saadhan mil jaaye to Janata Party 50 seats jeeti sakt hai (If we have the resources, we could win 50 assembly seats)”, his partymen told him. And what might the resources be? A few lakhs per candidate and a ride in Mallya’s personal plane, once in a while. The canny businessman he is, Mallya took out his palmtop, did a few quick calculations and beat a quick retreat, promising to respond the next time he was in town.

Insiders reveal that Digvijay Singh has apparently placed a bet with Mallya that barring one Kankar Munjare, all Janata Party candidates would forfeit their security deposits. Mallya might have had more money than horse sense when he started off in politics, but he’s slowly getting there.

Modi has nine lives

When the chief justice of India, VN Khare, pulled up Narendra Modi in the Best Bakery case, he might not have realized that he was giving the chief minister of Gujarat a new lease of life. Predictably, secular elements in the media and outside made much of the telling-off while, taken aback by its severity, Modi was left wondering whether he should resign. M Venkaiah Naidu, the party president, advised him not to act in a hurry. And he was right. A day later, when the newspapers were full of the judge’s statement, almost everyone looked askance at the sweeping condemnation and the reference to Modi’s rajdharma. Small wonder then that the controversy died as soon as it hit the next day’s headlines. And so too much righteous indignation took the edge off Khare’s anger.

Green in the saffron party

M Venkaiah Naidu might be, as the party president, the most important person in the BJP after Vajpayee and Advani, but evidently, he still feels more than a tad insecure about his position. Or why would he try to play foul by Bandaru Dattareya? A fellow Andhra politician and a sangh loyalist of older vintage than Naidu, Dattareya was given independent charge of the ministry of urban development in the recent reshuffle. He would also have been made full cabinet minister, if only Naidu hadn’t put a spanner in the works. He couldn’t have someone stealing a march on him on his home turf, could he?

Making faces at the camera

But politicians can be even more petty. Jagdish Mukhi, BJP member of the Delhi assembly, all but walked out of the sets of a television discussion on the power situation in the capital because he was seated a little distance away from the anchor. Mukhi felt that as leader of the opposition he ought to be sitting next to the anchor, like Ajai Maken, the state power minister. Of course, the producers had no intention of insulting Mukhi. But they had a hard time convincing him of that. As a result Mukhi appears on screen wearing an extremely untelegenic little moue of petulance, as he answers the questions put to him. Isn’t it time our politicians learnt some television manners now that they have to live with the ubiquitous cameras and microphones?

They know better

Talking of petulance, Arun Jaitley’s high-profile presence in Cancun has put many people’s backs up. Subramanian Swamy, for example, has claimed that only he and, to a certain extent, Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram, clearly understand what the WTO is all about. Another carper, the Congress’s Rajiv Desai, dismissed Jaitley saying that the WTO was not all about scoring brownie points — the minister was not attending a conclave of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, after all.

It’s written in the surveys

The Congress may make it to power in at least three states — Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi — in the coming assembly elections. That’s the conclusion of a poll survey conducted by a firm owned by Yashwant Deshmukh, grandson of the RSS veteran, Nanaji Deshmukh. A case of business taking precedence over politics?

Unsuitable friends

From the frying pan into the fire. Mamata Banerjee, who is already in trouble for cosying up to the RSS, is wading into yet another controversy for attending a party hosted by PA Sangma. This time, the state BJP unit is angry because it considers this friendship with Sangma “a betrayal”. Apparently, didi, sulking at being given a cabinet berth without a portfolio, is thinking of launching yet another anti-left platform in the state. Better luck this time!

Memory of the mentor

Ever wondered why Laloo Prasad Yadav and the Rashtriya Janata Dal have suddenly dropped their opposition to Prakash Jha’s Gangaajal? The ruling party in Bihar had seemed quite unmoving in its opposition to the film, because its villain shared the name of the chief minister’s brother — Sadhu Yadav. For a time it had even seemed that Yadav’s men would not allow the Ajay Devgan starrer to be screened in Bihar.

The reason, according to an insider, is Jayprakash Narayan. Apparently, during one of his many discussions to resolve the impasse, Jha had mentioned that his next film would be on the hero of the Nav Nirman movement. That’s all it took to melt Yadav. By the end of the conversation, Yadav was busy telling the director anecdotes from the life of JP. It might be recalled that Yadav began his political career as a student leader, under JP’s tutelage. It’s good to see Yadav still feels reverential towards his mentor, however far he may have gone from his ideals. Perhaps Laloo was exploring the possibility of paying homage to JP on screen?