Reporters' Diary: The silent PM as star campaigner

Chhattisgarh Congress clarified Nagma’s Geelani remark as “slip of the tongue”

The grand faux pas

Congressmen angrily defend Prime Minister Manmohan Singh whenever he is criticised by anybody from outside the party for being a “silent PM” and then leave no stone unturned to make him the butt of ridicule.

Last week, for instance, party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, went hammer and tongs at reporters for suggesting that the party had rendered Dr Singh silent through an unusually high decibel election campaign throughout the nation.

“No, no,” Mr Surjewala said, “the PM is, in fact, about to go campaigning. After all, he is amongst the party’s listed ‘star’ campaigners.” Hmmm...
Where will he campaign, sir? Pat came the reply, “In Kerala and Karnataka.”

When? “On April 17”. Kerala had already voted by then and Karnataka was to vote on April 17. For the record, Dr Singh never came to Karnataka. Also, for the record, the outgoing Prime Minister has made exactly four campaign speeches this election.

Bharat Ratna for Geelani?

Celluloid star Nagma has stumped her admirers and fans in Chhattisgarh with her “poor general knowledge”.

The sex siren from Kollywood had recently visited the state to campaign for Congress candidates in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

Coming hard on Bharatiya Janata Party’s Narendra Modi she said a sense of insecurity could be sensed among the minorities following the saffron party’s decision to project the Gujarat strongman as its prime ministerial pick against the backdrop of the 2002 riots in his state.

She cited BJP leader Giriraj Singh’s recent inflammatory speech in which he reportedly said “people who do not vote for Mr Modi will have to find a place in Pakistan”, to drive home her point.

“They (BJP) are saying those opposed to Mr Modi should go to Pakistan. In that case, should Syed Ali Shah Geelani (Kashmir separatist leader), who has been bestowed with the country’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, should also be sent to Pakistan because he is opposed to Mr Modi?” an agitated Nagma told reporters on the sidelines of her campaign in Raipur on April 20 without having an inkling of the blunder she had made.

Her remarks triggered a spate of sarcastic reactions not only from the BJP but also from followers on the social networking websites causing embarrassment to the Congress.

“The Congress should clarify who awarded the Bharat Ratna to the Hurriyat Conference hardliner and when was he bestowed with this honour,” Chhattisgarh BJP spokesman Yashwant Jain said.

“Those who voted for Nagma in the parliamentary elections must be beating their heads wondering why she had not displayed such depth of general knowledge before April 10, the day her fate was sealed”, read a tweet.

Chhattisgarh Congress has, meanwhile, issued a clarification describing Nagma’s Geelani remark as a mere “slip of the tongue”.
Nagma, however, later blamed the media for the “goof up”.

Bittersweet trails

Perhaps never before had former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, who recently joined the Rashtriya Lok Dal, witnessed so many changing seasons in one summer.

According to sources, Mr Singh, who is contesting the Fatehpur Sikri seat as a RLD candidate, was rather upset when he was informed that his estranged “bhabhi” Jaya Bachchan was coming to Fatehpur Sikri to campaign for the SP candidate which meant she was to campaign against him.

Mr Singh waited with bated breath to see whether Ms Bachchan would spew venom against him and so did the media. Thankfully, Lady Bachchan only made an appeal to the voters to ensure the victory of her party candidate and left. Mr Singh was naturally relieved.

However, a day later, there was more shock in store when Mr Singh learnt that his one-time foe, Raj Babbar, was coming to his constituency to campaign for him! Mr Babbar had to leave the Samajwadi Party when he unfurled the banner of revolt against Mr Singh. Mr Babbar is now in Congress and the RLD is in alliance with the Congress.

Mr Babbar, however, maintained a cordial distance with Mr Singh, campaigned for him.

“He is still reeling under the irony that has unfolded before him in the past two days. He had his closest friends campaigning against him and his bitter rival — campaigning for him,” said Mr Singh’s aide.

( Source : dc )
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