Birthday party politics
Birthday party politics
In Uttar Pradesh, the best way to swing into the limelight is to throw a party, specially during election time. Invite a few legislators and then quietly leak the news to the media. Without any apparent effort, the party gets converted into a conspiracy event, mediapersons jostle with each other for “breaking news” and “exclusive” bits of information from inside the party and tremors can be felt in the higher echelons of power.
The now-defunct Loktantrik Congress, a breakway group of the Congress that had joined hands with the Kalyan Singh government in 1997 under the leadership of Naresh Agrawal, had mastered this art. Whenever the Loktantrik Congress’ 22-odd legislators wanted free publicity, one of them would throw a party and the Kalyan Singh sarkar would tremble at the idea of their pulling out of the minority government.
Recently, independent MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh, better known as Raja Bhaiyya, did a replay when he celebrated the birthday of his twin sons and invited a majority of disgruntled SP MLAs. Since Rajya Sabha elections were on, the SP leaders smelt a conspiracy and Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav and Shivpal Yadav immediately joined the party to placate the angry MLAs. Their presence swung the media into action and almost overnight, the innocuous birthday party turned into a headline event.
What a colourful idea! Entering a government building, specially those housing Union ministries, is a major headache for an ordinary citizen. If any citizen wants to enter one of these establishments, s/he has to literally sweat it out before a pass is issued to merely enter the building. The harassment a person may face in the department s/he is visiting is something that can only be imagined.
Journalists, a privileged lot (at least in some cases), don’t face such entry problems in government offices, as they possess the press accreditation cards issued by the Government of India after security checks. The security personnel at such establishments, mainly the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), normally identify these press accreditation cards by their colours, which change every year. Also, identity cards possessed by bureaucrats, PSU chiefs and other middle- or lower-ranked government officials are of various colours. They carry a number of stars, signifying the holder’s seniority. However, as hundreds of other people like courier boys, vendors, and private company officials visit such offices, they try to show personal IDs or office IDs, which don’t guarantee entry at such places. Sensing the problems faced by CISF personnel while dealing with hundreds of such visitors, the government recently came up with a novel idea of making things easier for them. Outside every government building, pictures of coloured samples of all ID proofs, which are given to government officials, mediapersons, PSU personnel and other middle- and lower-ranked personnel, have been pasted.
Now the security personnel match the IDs shown by visitors with the ones shown on the chart pasted outside the offices and then allow them to enter. It seems this innovative colour-coordinated method is really helping the security personnel.
Secular didi On June 7, several newspapers in Kolkata carried a state government advertisement in which Mamata Banerjee was seen offering her greetings to her Muslim “brothers and sisters” on the arrival of the holy month of Ramzan. In the next few weeks, like previous years, she will attend a number of iftar parties in the city. Every year the biggest party is hosted by Kolkata Municipal Corporation at the sprawling Park Circus Maidan. Photographs of Didi with her head covered and both hands raised for dua joining imams and prominent, and as well as ordinary Muslims, at the time of breaking of day-long fast, are routinely splashed across the front pages of the city dailies during Ramzan. No one has questioned Didi’s participation in iftar parties because she has over the years emerged as a fiercely secular leader with a minority-friendly image. But as she has pointed out on a number of occasions it does not mean that she exclusively attends festivals or events of Muslims. Didi attends midnight mass at St. Paul Cathedral and sings Christmas carols, visits a city gurdwara on Guru Gobind Singh’s birthday and also participates in Chhath puja. Not to mention the countless Durga pujas that she inaugurates every year. Trinamul Congress supporters were therefore not amused when controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, who in a known Mamata-baiter, tweeted recently: “Is Mamataji fasting Just curious.”
Dinner helps win votes Riding high on the victory of the party’s heavyweight and tribal leader Kantilal Bhuria in the recently-held bypolls to Ratlam Lok Sabha constituency, the Congress was hoping to wrest the tribal-dominated Ghoradongri seat from the ruling BJP in byelections.
So the party had launched high-pitched electioneering by carpet-bombing the constituency with its star campaigners, like Digvijay Singh, Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Amid the upbeat mood in the Congress camp, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan quietly slipped into the tribal village of Ghopda, Betul, on the evening of May 28 and had dinner with the Bhurelal Chouhan family before spending the night with them. Next morning, he bid them farewell but not before sharing tea.
The Opposition Congress had cried foul over Mr Chouhan breaking bread in Ghopda, Betul, barely a couple of days before the byelection. The party even sarcastically described the dinner enjoyed by the CM with the tribal family as a “poll meal”.
Later, the BJP candidate won the byelection hands down, defeating his nearest Congress rival by a margin of over 13,000 votes when the results were declared on June 2.
“The ‘poll meal’ dashed all our hopes to win the byelection,” a senior Congress leader observed.
10-hour shift. really Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal had recently said that “I will be working for the state even after office hours.” A section of overenthusiastic officers in the state food and civil supply department took the appeal of the chief minister as an order and issued a notification for employees to work for 10 hours a day.
It was obviously upsetting for the employees’ union, which protested, saying: “The government cannot compel employees to work 10 hours a day. It is a sheer violation of the Labour Act.”
However, Mr Sonowal’s office quickly clarified, saying: “The news report in a section of the media that government employees have to work beyond office hours is false and baseless. I have only appealed to the employees to work with more sincerity and commitment.”
‘Punishment posting’ A certain RSS man was recently sent to Delhi from a BJP-ruled state to work with the central team. Now this RSS pracharak’s main query after reaching Delhi was to find what accommodation he would be getting. He is considered close to the state’s chief minister. After living in a huge house in the state capital for many years, this pracharak had expected to get a house in the Lutyens’ zone.
He apparently suggested he could stay in the official residence of an MP from this BJP-ruled state, as the MP only uses this bungalow when Parliament is in session. But his suggestion was turned down. He then suggested he could stay in a North Avenue flat, where some senior BJP leaders live. But this suggestion too was turned down.
The rumour is that the RSS was miffed with this pracharak as he was thinking more about the “CM’s interest” than the organisation’s. Sending him to Delhi was like a “punishment posting”. This CM has also been facing Opposition attack over an infamous scam.
On the wrong foot Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have won millions of hearts for his inspiring June 8 address to the joint sitting of the US Congress, but a small factual mistake he made at a function organised just a day before in the same country to return the stolen statues to India, has found him caught in the wrong foot on Twitter. His followers and social media users have mocked him for his latest gaffe on the famous Konark Sun Temple in Orissa.
At the function, Mr Modi said the artists in the 2,000-year-old temple made statues wearing skirts and holding purses. This means that this practice of wearing skirts and using purses were prevalent even then. Some reminded the PM that the Konark temple was not 2,000 years old, but was built only 700 years ago. A user commented on Mr Modi’s skirts and purses remark in a very satirical way: “Aur tab se leke aaj tak RSS aur Modi bhakt uss skirt ke peeche pade hain... (And since then RSS members are obsessed with skirts).”
“Hmm, matlab women in India are safe in a skirt only if they are engraved in stone,” tweeted one Malaya Desai, ostensibly taking a dig on the rising atrocities on women in the country.
“See Modiji agrees that Skirt Wearing Girls is Part of Indian Culture. These Sanghis are just anti-Indian ” said one Jairaj P.
“Modi must be having delusions of short skirt women... Anyway bhakts will claim he increased tourist traffic to that temple,” said another.