The release of the Narada sting video has left the Trinamul Congress shell-shocked. The Trinamul camp initially thought that Narada video controversy would also gradually fade away like the Saradha chit fund scam from public memory. But it was their misplaced optimism because sleaze-on-camera became talk of the town. To add to chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s woes, eternal adversaries — the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Congress — entered into an electoral adjustment to prevent a split in anti-Trinamul Congress vote. The Trinamul Congress camp is clearly scared of the consolidation of Opposition vote and the adverse impact of the sting video. That the situation has left the ruling party speechless is evident by Ms Banerjee’s uncharacteristic silence. She has led several well-attended padayatras in different parts of the city and neighbouring Howrah, but refrained from making the customary speech at their culmination. Other party leaders have also been asked to remain tightlipped. “At last, Didi has also realised the virtue of silence,” quipped a wag in the party.
A hands-on minister As the National Democratic Alliance government is nearing completion of two years in power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team are trying to keep the message alive that they are hands-on ministers. It may be recalled that Mr Modi had clearly told his ministers that merely clearing files while sitting in office won’t suffice; a hands-on “ground’’ approach was also necessary. Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary Chaudhary, minister of state for home, who hails from Gujarat, seems to have taken the lead in re-energising the Modi team. Recently, he travelled in the Delhi Metro to take an account of metro’s security and safety measures. Mr Chaudhary travelled to Akshardham and back to Rajiv Chowk sitting in the driver’s cabin. Incidentally, his travel came days ahead of a high-level security review meeting of ministers to study the security of Delhi Metro. After his metro journey, Mr Chaudhary is learnt to have put forth suggestions related to the security and safety in the metro at the meeting and ensured that the agencies concerned are on their toes. Sources say that Mr Chaudhary has made one thing clear — that neither the departments nor the rival political parties get a chance to complain about the slackening of the NDA government’s ministers. Will it bear fruits for the NDA government in the long run is however, three years away to see, when the poll bugle will be heard.
NO MORE SILHOUETTES Now whenever a Delhi government advertisement appears on the television, one will no longer see silhouettes of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s body double promoting various schemes of the AAP government with its back to the camera. With the Supreme Court allowing pictures of chief ministers to appear in government advertisements, be ready to see a ballistic Mr Kejriwal from your television sets and rattling out bucketful of reasons behind your cheap water bill, availability of surplus funds with the Delhi government and many more such verbose things. Happy viewing!
IAF COMES CLEAN The Indian Air Force was anxious to set the record straight and give its version of events in response to media reports that some of the targets had been missed during the recent mega demonstration of their abilities at Pokhran in the deserts of Rajasthan. The IAF hurriedly called a media briefing within a few hours in the capital to clarify that at least 106 out of 108 targets had been hit while admitting that a laser-guided bomb had malfunctioned in one case. The IAF was more than eager to convince reporters that it is fully capable of hitting enemy targets in case of any actual conflict and that there should be no doubts in this regard in anyone’s mind.
Coloured attack Damodar Rout, Biju Janata Dal vice-president and Orissa excise minister, prefers to make maximum use of allegory and metaphors when he wants to attack his opponents. On Holi, when his supporters gathered at his government residence to greet him, the dark-complexioned Dr Rout obliged them without any objection. Instead, he told his followers, “Paint my face with as many colours as you can. We will see that each colour that you have applied on my skin shines with original shade. However, you apply the same colour on some other ministers and top political leaders who have got white complexion, you will see that the colours will lose their entities as their hearts are not pure and they are neck-deep in corruption.” The words of Dr Rout had sudden effect on his opponents, who had been criticising him for the recent spate in farmer suicide cases.
Pesky sarkar After its massive advertising campaign on television, newspapers, radio and outdoor hoardings, the Aam Aadmi Party government tried to reach out to Delhiites through their mobile phones to highlight its achievements on the occasion of Holi. The AAP government decided to reach out about 1.38 crore mobile users, who had not subscribed to “Do Not Disturb” service. Of the 40-lakh mobile users reached out by a Mumbai-based company, about 1.5 lakh to two lakh received the calls. Of the ones who received these calls, a large number of people disconnected it without listening to the entire audio clip. For each per second call, the government will be spending 0.5 paise. The buzz going around is that next time the government will not be limiting its campaign to Delhi alone, it will try to reach out to each and every mobile user across the country.
PROUD OF BEING ‘STUPID’ One would certainly not like to be called “stupid”, particularly if one is a public figure. But Rajesh Munat, Chhattisgarh public works department minister, known for his sharp tongue has no qualms about being levelled as an “idiot”. In fact, the unofficial No. 2 in the Raman Singh Cabinet feels elated being seen as a stupid both by his followers and adversaries. “I am proud of being called a fool,” Mr Munat said in a confession at the Holi celebration function in Raipur last week organised by a monthly cartoon magazine where he was conferred with “Maha Murkh” (super idiot) award for the current year. While justifying the honour to the minister, the organisers explained that Mr Munat was chosen for this year’s “Maha Murkh” award for his unique ability of making enemies out of friends by saying no to their unreasonable requests on their face. Humbly accepting the honour, Mr Munat observed, “I am proud of being called a super idiot.” Of course, his admission had stunned the whole audience into silence. Even Mr Munat’s adversaries consider him no less shrewd and never dare to take him for granted. A league of mavericks or maha murkhs, many in the gathering wondered.
FIREWORKS on Holi! The presence of starlet Poonam Pandey at the friendly cricket match between the chief minister’s team and the Indian Administrative Service officers during the recent IAS week, had led to a major controversy. Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, it is learnt, was not amused by the presence of the starlet who is known for her controversial statements and photographs. None of the officials in the organising team are now willing to reveal the million-dollar question — “Who invited Poonam Pandey ” Other celebrities at the event included Mandira Bedi, Sameeksha, Veera, Jaideep Ahlawat, Luv Patra, Harshali and Swati. Mr Yadav’s secretariat was also not aware of the fact that Ms Pandey was among the invitees. Ms Pandey made things worse when she tweeted “Had a great time in IGCL in Lucknow”. This had upset the entire bureaucracy because the match was not a part of the IGCL (Indian Gramin Cricket League). The tweet was later deleted. If sources are to be believed, some heads could roll after Holi on this issue.