A TEA STORY
Ever since newly-appointed Uttar Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party president Keshav Maurya disclosed that he sold tea as a child, the BJP men in the state seem to have hit on success mantra — tea. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr Maurya’s spectacular rise in the party is being attributed to tea. Stalls in the party headquarters that sell election memorabilia have started stocking up on tea mugs (actually coffee mugs) with photographs of Mr Modi and Mr Maurya on either side.
Visitors to the party office are being served steaming cups of tea in the sweltering heat, and the cool glass of lassi, once a favourite, is nowhere to be seen. Of course, there are variations of tea available but the biggest hit is the roadside “cutting chai” that is preferred by the common man. A party leader remarked, albeit sarcastically, “After serving the party for 18 years, I have realised that I should have served tea instead — it would have taken me up the ladder.” Another party MLA said that the BJP would now form the government in Uttar Pradesh because teasellers-turned-leaders seem to be the party’s lucky charm.
HONEST, CERTIFIED BY CBI
Has the Central Bureau of Investigation begun issuing certificates of honesty That is the question the sleuths of the investigating agency are asking after the recent comment made by Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav. Addressing a gathering at the party office in Lucknow on April 5, Mr Yadav accused the CBI of bothering him a lot. But he tried to focus on the “positives”.
Mr Yadav said that he has come clean on questions asked by the CBI and now he is a “CBI-certified honest” person. Reacting to this, a senior CBI officer said, “CBI is not an agency which gives such certificates to persons who are probed by the agency. It is the judiciary that decides who is honest or not.” May be not for his honesty, but not many would contest that the agency does have a role in what direction Mr Yadav leans politically.
INNOVATION AT WORK
Several restaurants and bars have devised innovative ways to lure customers during the second phase of odd-even car rationing which began April 15 in the national capital. As sales of many restaurants and bars had reportedly dropped by 20 to 25 per cent during the first phase of odd-even in Delhi from January 1-15, 2016, this time they have left no stone unturned to ensure that their sales are not affected.
For instance, a bar in south Delhi has been giving 25 per cent discount to those who visit it in private cabs. Another has started home delivery facilities till April 30. There is a restro-bar which has been providing a free drink to those having an odd number of drinks on odd days and two free drinks to those having even number of drinks on even days. Another bar has been providing free drinks during lunch hours. Only time will tell what tactics other shopkeepers will devise to keep their sales intact during the third round of the odd-even scheme.
BLOOD IN THE VALE
Kashmir is known as “Bloodletting Beat” for reporters based in Srinagar and elsewhere in the Valley. While reporting the unending conflict and resultant bloody mayhem that have only ruined the otherwise enchanting Vale, they have endured undeclared censorship, imprisonment, attempts on their lives, or the assassination of a close colleague or a family member as a result of their efforts to report on the news, the government, security forces and the militants candidly. Some reporters landed in prison or their graves for writing the truth.
The saga of them becoming the “news” continues. Last week, while reporting the volatile situation the Valley was pushed into following the killing of four residents in security forces’ firing and teargas shelling to contain protests over an alleged molestation attempt in the north-western town of Handwara, many of them had to suffer beatings and harassment.
The most horror was in store, however, for a local reporter based in Handwara. Zahoor Qadir Bhat, a reporter working for the Valley-based news agency KNS, received a phone call from his editor to visit the local hospital to do a story on the people injured in the firing incident. Clashes were still underway and the main town square had been left bloodstained. “Some persons have been critically injured in the firing. I will go to the hospital to get the details for the story. Call me after 10 minutes,” Bhat told the editor. As he arrived at the hospital, he was shocked to see that one of the two young men who had been fatally injured in the firing and whose bullet-riddled corpses were lying there was his younger brother Nayeem Qadir Bhat, a budding cricketer. “Involuntarily, I wrote his name on my writing pad,” the reporter said.
Pyarimohan Mohapatra, the expelled Biju Janata Dal leader and former adviser to Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik, now appears to be on a mission to settle scores with Mr Patnaik. Mr Mohapatra — who literally shaped the BJD for over a decade — was expelled from the BJD by Mr Patnaik on May 15, 2012, on the charge of anti-party activities. He has been seething with anger ever since and misses no opportunity to attack him. He is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that Mr Patnaik is embarrassed whenever he acts contrary to what he has been very assiduously preaching — ethics and morality — to the people to get votes.
On April 16, when journalists asked Mr Mohapatra if Mr Patnaik would drop on moral grounds his colleague Sanjay Das Burma from his Council of Ministers as the latter’s name had cropped up in the multi-crore chit fund scam, Mr Mohapatra said, “Ask him (Mr Patnaik) if he really understands what morality is.” A week ago, Mr Mohapatra had raked up Mr Patnaik’s nonchalant attitude towards learning Oriya, the mother tongue of Oriyas, and said Mr Patnaik was never interested in learning the language as he thought if he learnt the language the people wouldn’t respect him.
SORRY, ONCE AGAIN
US defence secretary Ashton Carter had to face some uncomfortable moments recently during a joint press conference with defence minister Manohar Parrikar in the capital after several Indian reporters began grilling the visiting dignitary on the US sale of F-16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan. One reporter asked if the US was willing to be a “trusted partner” of India, like Russia, and not sell arms to India’s adversaries, pointing out that the F-16s would eventually be used by Pakistan against India.
Mr Carter replied that the US was always willing to be a trusted partner of India and clarified that the F-16s were only intended to help Pakistan in its anti-terror operations in its Northwest. But matters didn’t end there. Another reporter belted out, “Please explain how an F-16 helps fight terror.” Mr Carter again clarified that Pakistan had used F-16 aircraft in its operations against militants. American journalists who were travelling with Mr Carter and were present at the occasion began grinning. Even Mr Parrikar couldn’t help but break into a smile at the repeated questioning of Mr Carter on the issue. It seems as if Mr Carter had more than his fair share of exposure to the Indian media.