Reporters' diary: Sushma’s Punjabi coup

PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Pakistan is being considered a diplomatic coup in most quarters.


With more and more politicians realising the importance of social media, Uttar Pradesh legislators are also trying to connect to their voters through this medium. The problem, however, is that not many of them are computer-savvy and cannot write posts on social networking sites even though they all possess the latest smartphones.

The desi MLAs have, therefore, started “employing” out-of-work journalists to handle their accounts on social networking sites. The scribes are paid fat sums of money and are required to post their netaji’s opinion on Facebook and Twitter and then report the number of “likes” that the post has attracted.

The MLAs and even ministers are so enamored with the response on the social media that they want an update every few hours. As one of them said, “It is too much fun to see the response.”

Those handling their accounts are, however, fed up of this constant monitoring. Recently when one of the ministers lost a relative in a mishap, the person handling his account posted the news on the social media and a few hours later, he informed the minister that the post had got a record number of “likes.” Even in that troubled frame of mind, the mantri did not forget to thank the journo for his “effort.”

In the CM’s name

Chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao is playing host to many marriages in Telangana these days. The wedding cards of deputy chief minister and minister for revenue Mohd Mahamood Ali, Telangana Rashtra Samithi leader Anand Kumar Goud and others will leave you perplexed. “From Smt & Sri Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao,” reads the marriage invitation of the deputy chief minister’s granddaughter. “In the name of Allah the most beneficent and merciful, Smt and Sri Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao hon’ble chief minister of Telangana state cordially invite you to attend the wedding ceremony...” it adds.

One would think that the invite is from the chief minister himself, but the fact is that the deputy chief minister and several other TRS leaders are only using Mr Rao’s name to invite people for the marriages of their kin. Zara Fatima, the granddaughter of the deputy chief minister, is getting married to Mohd Abdul Baseer on January 2. It’s the same with
Mr Goud, TRS vice-president of Nampally Assembly constituency in the city.

A businessman-cum-party activist also invokes the chief minister’s name as well as that of the minister for commercial taxes in the marriage invite of his daughter Priyanka Goud with Janak Goud on January 3 in the city. Several other TRS leaders are continuing this tradition that was in vogue when N.T. Rama Rao and N. Chandrababu Naidu were in power united Andhra Pradesh.

But what about biryani?

While the Telangana Rashtra Samiti is gearing up to prove its mettle in the ensuing Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, TRS MP from Mahabubnagar, Jithender Reddy, took up the issue of the Hyderabadi biryani in the Lok Sabha. Mr Reddy wanted to know whether the Hyderabadi biryani had officially been given the geographical indication (GI) status. Though he was informed by Union minister Nirmala Sitaraman that it was pending as relevant details were yet to be submitted by the applicant, many praised Mr Reddy for raising the issue in the Lok Sabha.

Vadra’s muscle show

Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra is flexing his muscles, literally. Besides expressing support for his in-laws in the National Herald case, Mr Vadra loves to post his photos on Facebook doing some pretty tough exercises. In a recent photo posted on Facebook, Mr Vadra is showing his muscles. He has also posted photos of exercising with heavy dumbbells and doing some core strength exercises. He has also developed a fan following on Facebook and keeps getting likes’ on his posts.

Copying the muffler man

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is also termed as muffler man, has struck a right chord with a section of employees at Delhi Secretariat, who too have started copying him by using mufflers this winter season. Asked since how long he has been using this new attire, an employee said, “I had never ever used it in the past. But when my children told me that Mr Kejriwal’s muffler has become a style statement, I too purchased one.” Another employee quipped, “Good. Our chief minister’s muffler has become global. Even my niece who was in the US has asked me to purchase one for her.”

Breaking the ice

In her conversation with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during her visit to Islamabad earlier this month, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj spoke for about 70 per cent of the time in Punjabi, indicating the rapport between the two leaders. While about 20 per cent of the conversation was in “Hindustani (Hindi and Urdu)”, about 10 per cent was in English, mostly due to the frequent use of English words by Mr Sharif. “Those not too familiar with Punjabi found it difficult to keep notes,” remarked an official in jest. With language playing an important role in breaking the ice between the two nations, this has led to hope that ties between the neighbours will now be on an upswing.

Lunch break, please

It was a gentle reminder to Janata Dal (United)’s K.C. Tyagi from none other than Rajya Sabha deputy chairman P.J. Kurien that he should not go without lunch being a diabetic. On the last day of the Winter Session when most of the MPs wanted the House to adjourn earlier than the normal and return to their respective constituencies for the Christmas break, some members, including Mr Tyagi, insisted that they should be allowed to seek clarifications on the government’s statement on India’s stand in the World Trade Organisation. A smiling Mr Kurien, who himself wanted to return to his home state, reminded the JD(U) member that he was diabetic and the House had not taken a lunch break and many members were keen to leave early.

Choose your hat!

The Juvenile Justice Bill broke the Parliament logjam of many days, even though it lasted for a few hours. Soon after the bill was passed, it was a peculiar sight as Congress members trooped into the Well of the House shouting slogans and demanding the resignation of the finance minister, Arun Jaitley, on allegations in the Delhi District Cricket Association scam.

When parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu rose with the hope to get the Opposition to transact more business soon after the smooth passage of the Juvenile Justice Bill, it was the turn of the Opposition to remind him that the deal was limited and so was the patience. The art of coming together for a cause seems something that the political parties in this country have mastered very well, and so is the art to draw daggers also suddenly once the task is achieved. People’s representatives or politicians, any hat you can choose to wear as a member of Parliament.

Channels circumvent ptv ban

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Pakistan is being considered a diplomatic coup in most quarters. It has been flagged as the most significant development in the Indo-Pak relations over the last few years. As expected, the visit also received wide media coverage on both sides of the border. However, most of India’s channels did not have a clue regarding the surprise visit of the Prime Minister. This forced electronic channels in India to rely solely on the feed being beamed by Pakistan Television. In their enthusiasm for the coverage of the prime ministerial visit, these channels seemed to have conveniently forgotten that broadcasting PTV was banned in India. The ban on PTV was enforced ostensibly to stop the anti-India propaganda allegedly being beamed by the Pak public broadcaster.

The problem is perception

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is angry with the Central Bureau of Investigation, particularly after the raid in connection with a case involving his principal secretary Rajendra Kumar. He has already held that the CBI is acting at the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office and even called the Prime Minister names. The others in the Aam Aadmi Party too seemed to have picked up the cue from their leader and seen parroting the same line of argument.

For the CBI officials, it appears to be a case of business as usual. A senior official said, “We don’t want to indulge in such political slugfest. The agency initiates action based on certain facts. Those who question our action are free to approach the court for scrutiny of the CBI’s action.” The official maintained that it was very easy for the politicians to level allegations against the agency, but he argued that the agency sleuths try their best to make a fool-proof case. Perhaps, the CBI’s problem is perception. It is yet to come up with mechanisms that can prevent it from earning the description of being a “caged parrot”.

( Source : deccan chronicle )
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