THE TELEGRAPH DIARY 

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 30.06.02
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Matters to a head n Worrying heads over heads - head of state, head of party, head of state unit... The BJP never seems to have enough of it. Even before the man with a head of flowing hair has made it to the Rashtrapati Bhawan, partyheads are getting worried about who should head the party. Apart from the nagging problem of Jana Krishnamurthy, there is also that of wannabe Pramod Mahajan, who thinks there is no reason he should continue to lie by the wayside. Never mind if Pramod in no way matches Sushma Swaraj's PR or Arun Jaitley's spoken English. There are BJPwallahs who believe that with Mahajan at the head, funds would not be a problem in the December 2003 elections to several of the cow-belt states. So jolly well perch him there. But they forget that acting merely as "fund-raiser" from the altar is not the picture Mahajan has in mind for himself. He craves more adulation than that. There is again the attendant problem of having a Vinay Katiyar as head of the UP BJP unit. This founding president of the Bajrang Dal could chop off Mulayam Yadav's OBC and Muslim backing in neat slices, but he could also encourage a brooding Rajnath Singh to cash in on the Brahmin and Rajput resentment in UP to drive a split down the BJP and then rush into the open arms of Mulayam Singh Yadav. Win some, lose some. But you always seem to lose with heads. That's not fair, Mr Referee The reshuffle blues seem to have taken hold of Shahnawaz Hussain. The youngest cabinet minister has grown so attached to his civil aviation ministry that he would be loath to leave it. Unfortunately, everytime there is talk of Mamata Banerjee's or Farooq Abdullah's imminent inclusion in the ministry, it is inferred that it is the civil aviation ministry that is up for grabs. Finally, Shahnawaz mustered the courage to go and remind the prime minister that he - the only Muslim representative in the cabinet - had done the rounds of the ministries of human resources development, youth affairs, coal and mines, food processing and a few others over the past two and a half years, and was tired of all the to-ing and fro-ing. "The football season might end on June 30, but I will continue to be kicked around from one ministry to another," he reportedly told his party seniors. Well, at least, he hasn't lost his sense of humour! Unkindly yours With Alex Perry, the Congress finally has something to crow about over the BJP. On the outside, it was all stiff upper lip - after all, gloating isn't very nice. Also, given the fact that it has hauled up the Western media many a time for its "biased" write-ups on Indira Gandhi, it couldn't suddenly change its tune. But in private, Congress leaders couldn't have been more pleased. Since the American magazine sells only about 40,000 copies in India, many of them showed extraordinary enterprise in ensuring that the article was widely disseminated. The owner-editor of a Hindi daily was only too pleased to oblige his friends in the Congress by carrying a verbatim translation of the article. As for influential businessmen, politicians and mediapersons, Kamal Nath very thoughfully sent them a photocopy of "Asleep at the Wheel" - with his compliments. In the name of the grandmother While the Congress cadre are not exactly tickled pink over the addition to their first family - Priyanka's daughter - it hasn't stopped them from speculating about a name for the baby. Should it be "Indira", or "Priyadarshini", or a short and sweet, "Indu"? Priyanka's firstborn was named Rehan Rajiv Gandhi Vadra, in deference to his political lineage, but the astrologers don't see much of a political future for the boy. In contrast, the baby girl's horoscope has a definite indication of raj yog. Both granny and mummy are delighted. Movers and shakers For all those who were stumped by the blatant use of moneypower during the recent Maharashtra political crisis, the mystery has now been cleared. Apparently, the brains - and more important, purse - behind the defections was that of a diamond merchant-turned-film producer, who spent more than a year in jail over his alleged connections with the underworld. Mr Moneybags was upset that the Vilasrao Deshmukh regime had turned its back on him in his hour of need. He may have failed for now but you can be sure he will keep pumping money in to make mischief. That's no job for you The planning commission's loss was to have been the Reserve Bank of India's gain. NK Singh, member of the planning commission, was widely tipped to take over as governor of the apex bank once Bimal Jalan's term ended. Nandu babu, in fact, had quite set his heart on the appointment: he wanted to cap his long career with a job that would require him to put his signature on currency notes. Unfortunately for the Bihar cadre IAS officer, his reputation preceded him. As a last resort, Nandu babu even enlisted the support of a self-righteous cabinet minister, but the prime minster chose to play it safe. He ordered a two-year extension for Jalan. A vocabulary to kill for The left-Trinamool Congress face-off has now taken a literary turn. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has complained about the "big words" in a letter from the party's "shikkhashell". Written by Supriya Chattapadhyay, wife of Trinamool chief whip Shobhandeb Chattopadhyay, it begins, "We are deeply shocked to envisage the appalling instance of your govt's bumptious act of recalcitrance in trampling over the solem (sic) order...." One can only sympathize with Buddha babu. Footnote/ It's a reel life story Bollywood seems to have got over its fixation with sweet, syrupy romances lately- it has a found a worthy substitute in the political hero. And since our Hindi filmmakers don't do anything in moderation, after the five films on Bhagat Singh, we are to have one on Indira Gandhi. The brainchild of a former Congress MP from Aurangabad, Uttam Singh Pawar, the film will have Tabu playing Mrs G. Pawar approached Mahesh Astitva Manjrekar with the idea, who liked it so much that he apparently called up the national award winning actress and asked her to start reading up on India's Iron Lady. Bollywood circles say that the current focus on Indira is aimed at blunting the negative projection of the Congress, made allegedly at the behest of the Shiv Sena. But Congressmen are unconvinced about the theory that the idea originated from 10 Janpath. After all, Mrs G was hardly pleased with Aandhi, supposedly based on her life. Also, they wonder, who will play Indira's dutiful bahu, Sonia? Understandably, no one is talking about the other bahu, Maneka.