Reporters’ diary: All for two seconds of fame

‘We have been in politics for decades, but have to line up and greet him whenever he is here’

Guard of honour: As images of former Union minister V. Narayanasamy carrying Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s footwear in Chennai went viral, a Congress neta let out a secret about an SMS he received from the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee office on the eve of Mr Gandhi’s recent visit to Bengaluru to interact with students of a well-known women’s college.

All office-bearers and ministers were asked to turn up at the airport to offer a “guard of honour” on his arrival. “This is how we are treated. We have been in politics for decades, but have to line up and greet him (Mr Gandhi) whenever he is here for those two seconds of fame,” rued the leader who incidentally did not show up at the airport. Are Mr Narayanasamy and his ilk listening?

Twitter ire: Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Rajya Sabha MP Chandan Mitra had to face the ire of online BJP supporters for a comment that policy decisions were not made based solely on Twitter chatter and that there are some people with nothing better to do on Twitter. Many BJP online supporters were hurt by Mr Mitra’s comment. Some said that they will not tweet in favour of the saffron party unless it sacks the senior leader. The chatter against Mr Mitra was so intense that he trended on Twitter for hours and was forced to issue a clarification on Twitter. “Pity my TV comments aimed at anti-BJP twitterati was seen by many friends as targeting them. That was not intended. I should have clarified. Must add I have been regularly abused by anti-BJP activists for defending my party and Govt. I was talking about them, not my own family,” tweeted the senior BJP leader.

‘Women not allowed’ - “Behind every successful man there is a woman,” goes the saying, but Chhattisgarh panchayat raj minister Ajey Chandrakar swears by the fact that behind the fall of every successful man, there is a woman. Mr Chandrakar has virtually found his potential nemesis in women ever since charges of inappropriate and indecent behaviour with some women officers of his department were levelled against him a month ago by a lady officer.

A few days later, Mr Chandrakar landed in another unsavoury controversy for pulling the hand of a girl to make her face the camera when she was being honoured by the chief minister at an official function in Raipur.

The Opposition Congress made it an issue by dubbing his action “inappropriate”. The latest incident in which the minister made an elected woman member of a rural local body cry in an official meeting by hurling abuse at her apparently provoked chief minister Raman Singh to say “enough is enough”. A day later, a huge banner was spotted near the minister’s official residence, signalling a warning, “Prohibited area for women and girls, minister Ajey Chandrakar lives here”. Seems like the minister is going through a bad phase, courtesy the womenfolk.

What a formula! The Union home ministry is perplexed at Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s latest odd-even car formula. This time not knowing whether to put a spanner in the works or not! While the Aam Aadmi Party government has clearly jumped the gun and announced the plan before firming up its modalities, it is the public debate that’s generated over the idea that is making it difficult for the Centre to gauge the real mood of the people! If the ministry is not convinced, the AAP government cannot roll out its plan since the Delhi Police is under the MHA.

Now if the buzz around North Block is to be believed, the MHA, at best, wants to suggest to the Kejriwal government to halt in its steps and find alternate ways and prepare itself first with the manpower and infrastructure to be able to implement such ideas. But who will bell the cat is the real question here, quipped one officer. The Narendra Modi government does not want to be seen as a spoilsport for now, especially when other chief ministers are coming out in support.

A matter of chance: The chance meeting of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and sidelined Trinamul Congress MP Mukul Roy in Parliament’s Central Hall may not have been a chance meeting after all. Sources said that having learnt about Ms Banerjee’s visit, Mr Roy, who was heading to a different part of Lutyens’ Delhi, suddenly rushed to Parliament. When a virtually panting Mr Roy reached the Central Hall, Ms Banerjee asked, “Kaemon acho Mukul (how are you Mukul)?” Mr Roy feigned surprise at seeing her there. This was the first time Ms Banerjee had spoken to Mr Roy, who was the second-in-command in the Trinamul before he fell from grace.

As if breaking of the ice was not enough, in the night they also broke bread together. Mr Roy received a call from a party MP inviting him for dinner at Ms Banerjee’s nephew and party MP Abhishek Banerjee’s apartment. Didi, like a gracious hostess, took personal care to feed Mr Roy. The political grapevine is abuzz with speculation about the return of the prodigy to the party fold. Both Ms Banerjee and Mr Roy need each other.

No lizards please: There is unrest among a few people, particularly in rural areas after the state government decided to put a blanket ban on cheating during board examinations in Bihar from 2016 onwards. The state government, according to sources is also planning to take strict action against “parents and guardians of students who scale up walls like spidermen and lizards to throw answer slips in an effort to help them pass the examination”.

Though the announcement was widely welcomed by educationists in the state but demands to screen government schoolteachers is also being raised. Even students preparing to appear in the board examination in 2016 want “good teachers and schools with better environment for education”.

Art of compromise: It is said that politics is the art of the possible but for Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi it seems to be an art of compromise too. Encouraged by the victory of the Grand Alliance formed by chief minister Nitish Kumar in Bihar, Mr Gogoi has floated the idea of an understanding among the anti-BJP forces in Assam — the Asom Gana Parishad and the All-India United Democratic Front.

Knowing very well that a tie-up with AIUDF could consolidate the Muslim vote in minority-dominated areas, Mr Gogoi fears of losing the Hindu vote completely in case of an alliance with the AIUDF. While Mr Gogoi has resorted to a formula of compromise by pushing for an open alliance with the AGP and a tactical tie-up with the AIUDF, the ball is in his opponents’ court.

Of protest & the protesters: the Congress held a morcha at Nagpur Vidhan Bhavan on December 8 to bring the state’s attention towards farmer suicides and implement complete loan waiver to farmers who are facing severe drought situation. Last year too, the Congress had tried to gather a huge number of farmers against the BJP-Shiv Sena government at Nagpur Vidhan Bhavan, but only 5,000 turned up for the Congress morcha.

Learning the lesson from last year, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Ashok Chavan had given responsibility to legislators from Mumbai and Vidarbha to mobilise crowds this year. The strategy was successful, as nearly 60,000 people gathered for the Congress morcha with the maximum people coming from Mumbai. They had come in video coach luxury buses arranged by Congress MLAs. Now, even though the “farmers” morcha was a huge success for the Congress, how many Mumbaikars were farmers — was the curious question that does not need a genius to answer.

It’s holiday time! The culture of holidays is new to the Samajwadi Party. Samajwadis, as a rule, do not believe in taking breaks or holidaying, but Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has broken the tradition. From London to Goa to Australia to tiger reserves in the country, Mr Yadav takes brief holidays with his family and even posts photographs on social networking sites that draw hosts of responses from eager-to-please party workers.

Taking a cue from the chief minister, a majority of Uttar Pradesh ministers are now busy planning holidays at the end of the year. While the conservative ones (read veteran Samajwadis) will be homebound to spend time with family and relatives in their villages, the younger ones are preparing to take off to foreign shores.

A young minister said that since the New Year would be busy with election preparations, this was the only time they could plan a holiday. Travel agents in Lucknow are obviously happy with the new VIP travel culture that has invaded the ruling party.

Document woes: The Indian agencies won brownie points for getting underworld don Chhota Rajan back in India. The Central Bureau of Investigation also got all the 71 cases registered against Rajan from Maharashtra police. But the “real work”, it would appear, has begun now.

The CBI is finding it difficult to re-register the cases. “We are seeking documents related to all the 71 FIRs from the Maharashtra police. Majority of the cases are very old. Therefore, Maharashtra police is taking time in transferring them to the CBI,” said a senior agency official on the condition of anonymity. What is more — majority of these documents will have to be translated into English from Marathi, the original language in which they were registered. It appears that the Maharashtra police’s “loss” is “not exactly CBI’s gain”.

A tanka-creating temple: Saffron-clad and long-beard wearing Biju Janata Dal MP Prasanna Kumar Patasani, who is fondly called as “Chicken Baba” for his penchant for non-vegetarian food, has an unusual style of pitching his speeches, which often appear far detached from the subjects and occasions.

On December 10, Mr Patasani, along with his party leader and Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik, was invited to the inauguration of the Phase II campus of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) at Kalinga Park. When his turn came to address the audience, the visibly ill-prepared MP began his speech by describing the arts graduate chief minister as a geologist and unconvincingly attributed that the chief minister’s geological pursuits had resulted in the present information technology revolution in the state.

Then he went on to expand the acronym “TCS” in a language that was poor blend of Hindi, Oriya and English words. “T stands for tanka (money) and C for creation. Thus, the TCS office is a temple of tanka making,” he explained. He stopped when he found his unmerited and unjust interpretation left the chief minister red-faced.

The twitter trophy: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to become the second most followed person in India after Amitabh Bachchan on Twitter. The passion of the country to discuss everything political is being utilised well by the social media managers of the Prime Minister. One of the first political leader to understand the power of social media, Prime Minister Modi has been increasing his followers in the count of millions and expected to become the most followed Indian across the globe in a few months. The Prime Minister’s popularity charts have seen a tremendous upswing ever since he secured power in last year’s general elections.

( Source : deccan chronicle )
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