The big story
Bureaucrat-turned-politician and senior Congress leader Ajit Jogi has offered a very interesting logic to wriggle himself out of the audio tape row suggesting his and his MLA son Amit Jogi’s involvement in fixing an Assembly byelection in Chhattisgarh, and ensuring victory of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party candidate in the process.
What appeared an “out of box” thinking to knock down the charges levelled against him in the recent expose by a national English daily, Mr Ajit Jogi simply counted the words, “purportedly” and “allegedly”, used in the story to establish the Jogis as the mastermind of the reported operation to make Congress candidate in the Antagarh Assembly bypolls of 2014, Manturam Pawar, bow out of the contest to pave way for BJP nominee Bhojraj Nag’s election.
“The words, purportedly and allegedly, were used 27 times in the story. The whole expose has been based on the premise of ‘purportedly’ and ‘allegedly’ theories. The author himself never said in the story if the charges made in the expose are true and authentic,” Mr Ajit Jogi countered.
Mr Ajit Jogi has, meanwhile, dragged the newspaper to the court for tarnishing his public image by making “baseless allegations” against him. So, it is now left to the court to decide the authenticity of the story. But what the Jogi camp seemed yet to gulp the fact that “unsolicited” words have cast the biggest blot in 27-year-old political career of their leader. Mr Ajit Jogi’s followers are perhaps oblivious of the basic rule of journalism that says, “Hit with ‘right’ words”.
Time to take action?
Congress’ action against party MLA Amit Jogi over “leaked tape” case has unsettled beleaguered Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh’s camp. Son of former chief minister Ajit Jogi, Mr Amit Jogi has been expelled by the Congress for six years for his alleged involvement in the fixing of a bypoll and ensuring Bharatiya Janata Party’s victory.
The “leaked tape” purportedly has voices of Mr Amit Jogi and Mr Singh’s son-in-law, Puneet Gupta among others. Mr Singh’s camp is restless as not only the Opposition Congress has acted against the son of its former chief minister, it is demanding action against the chief minister and his relative. Not just this, pressure is mounting on Mr Singh from his own party members to act against his son-in-law.
For the optimist, it was a fantastic political premiere. Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh’s 84th birthday was celebrated in Lucknow with aplomb and fanfare.
Amidst reports that he could be projected as a chief ministerial candidate in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in 2017, party workers thronged to his residence and made a bid for selfies with the octogenarian leader.
Huge hoarding swathed the entire area, wishing the former chief minister on his birthday. Mr Singh was rather elated at the response of party workers who shouted slogans like “Kalyan Singh kalyan karo, mandir ka nirman karo”, all through the day.
Bharatiya Janata Party leaders who had earlier opposed Mr Singh also turned up with oversized bouquets for the leader. The celebrations that began with a puja ended with a song and dance programme at his residence. The highlight of the day, however, was the very notable absence of former BJP MP Kusum Rai, once known as a protégé of the veteran leader — more so, since in the olden and golden days, she used to be the driving force behind the celebrations. This time, it was his son Rajvir and daughter-in-law Premlata who managed the celebrations.
A ridiculous rumour
Indian and Pakistani diplomats got a taste of wild speculation recently that left them reeling. The capital was abuzz with rumours a few days ago that Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif — who was then visiting Colombo — may make a brief stopover at New Delhi en route Pakistan, in a virtual repeat of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brief stopover at Lahore.
The rumour mills had it that Mr Sharif was mulling such a move to send out a strong message in favour of peace. But the rumours were quashed by both Indian and Pakistani officials who said nothing of the sort was being considered.
Mr Sharif eventually flew straight back to Pakistan from the Sri Lankan capital. But the episode left diplomats on both sides amused yet exasperated as they scrambled to assure excited journalists calling up that there was no truth to this. “This was the most ridiculous rumour I heard,” quipped one diplomat, while another laughed, “We got a taste of media speculation today.”
Business by ‘chance’
Entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala recently revealed that the entertainment business was “serendipity” for him. Mr Screwvala sold his stake in UTV to the American entertainment major Walt Disney in a `2,000-crore deal in 2011.
“Media was serendipity to me. I don’t think I had a clear vision that I wanted to be in the media and entertainment segment. I was clear that I wanted to be an entrepreneur,” he said. Mr Screwvala started his journey with dabbling in theatre. But fearing a possible persuasion by parents to study accountancy, he started what turned out to be the country’s first home cable in the tony Cuffe Parade area in south Bombay in 1981.
New Year gift
Mukul Roy could not have asked for a better New Year gift. The sidelined Trinamul Congress MP was allowed a darshan of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and that too at her Kalighat residence on January 1. Mukul-Mamata tête-à-tête lasted for nearly an hour. Although neither of them divulged what transpired in the meeting, speculation was rife that the coming Assembly election figured prominently in their animated conversation.
To prove that it was not just a courtesy call but a display of the renewed bonhomie between the two, became evident by Mr Roy’s presence at the dinner which Ms Banerjee hosted for the dignitaries, including foreign delegates who were in the city to attend Bengal Global Business summit.
Mr Roy’s organisational skills are unmatched. In the past 11 months that he had been away from party headquarters, the ruling party organisation has been badly hit. Indiscipline, infighting and corruption are plaguing the party almost everywhere. The fratricides within the Trinamul have not only weakened the organisation, but also dealt a body blow to the image of the party.
Ms Banerjee, therefore, desperately wants Mr Roy to take over the reins of the party. Party insiders said it was only a matter of time that Mr Roy will be reinstated to his second-in-command within the party. “Mukul ke acche din aa gaye,” quipped a Trinamul MP.
A sweet attack
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh knows how to kill the opponents with sugarcoated pills. Mr Ramesh — who has upped his ante against the Narendra Modi government on its silence to order Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the mega mining scam — told reporters in two separate press conferences in New Delhi and Bhubaneswar that the Prime Minister was ensuring that leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party allies who are allegedly involved are not disturbed. “The Prime Minister is at least showing us what friendship is,” he said sarcastically.
To add more credence to his sweet attack on Mr Modi, Mr Ramesh took the name of Union tribal minister Jual Oram who had recently dropped explosive hints on his party’s support to the corrupt BJD.
Mr Oram said that the BJD has survived with the support of the BJP, which in turn requires the support of the regional party in the Rajya Sabha to pass bills.
“Narendra Modi has to act now or else people will start thinking that he is no different a politician and compromises on corruption. I hope he would listen to the pain and anguish of Mr Oram on corruption and prove his honesty,” Mr Ramesh said flashing a smile.