Off the record

Lost and found

Politicians are masters of ‘disappearing act’. Their constituents will, no doubt, vouch for the fact.

But it is rare, for even a politician, to call media persons for a press conference and then disappear.

Recently, human resources development minister Kapil Sibal invited press for an interaction in his room in the telecom ministry.

It was a late interaction, 5.30 in the evening, and the correspondents were worried as stories would be delayed and they might even miss the deadline.

As they approached the concerned press officer, they were amused to find that though the red light in the minister’s chamber was on, Sibal was not in his room.

Even the minister’s staff did not have any idea about where he was. With the 2G spectrum scam raging in the Capital, the journalists could hardly afford to leave Sanchar Bhavan without listening to what Sibal had to say.

While the 20-odd journalists stood in front of Sibal’s chamber, his staff started running helter-skelter looking for him.

Ultimately he was ‘found’ in another department, hosting some delegation and his staff heaved a sigh of relief.

Shruba Mukherjee, New Delhi

Solidarity

When CBI sleuths raided former telecom minister A Raja’s house last week in connection with the spectrum scam, news spread like wildfire in the Parliament House.

To show their solidarity, half a dozen DMK MPs gathered in the Central Hall and decided to meet Raja at his house.

When they reached Raja’s House at Motilal Nehru Marg in red beacon cars, the police did not allow them to enter.

Even after they furnished their identity as MPs who wanted to meet their ‘colleague’, the CBI officials refused to budge and politely told them to leave the venue immediately. As compared to the worried looks on the faces of these MPs, Raja was seen in the portico of his house talking calmly on his mobile betraying no sign of nervousness.

While the DMK MPs looked downcast, their rival party, AIADMK MPs seemed to have a field day as they were gleefully talking to television cameras spouting venom at Raja.

Ajith Athrady, New Delhi

Nitish’s advice

It’s a well-known fact that Nitish Kumar is a voracious reader. So much so that even after donning the mantle of chief-ministership of Bihar, he finds time to leaf through the newspapers every morning. But the JD(U) strongman feels that anybody who reads newspaper and magazines can’t claim himself to be an avid reader.

“For this, you will have to read books, be it on polity, literature, history, science or fiction,” he said while inaugurating the Patna Book Fair.

Recalling how he got the time to go through a book written by a bureaucrat, Nitish said, “When I was dethroned after spending just seven days as Bihar chief minister in March 2000, I went back to Delhi. I was jobless as I had quit as Union minister before taking over the chief ministership of Bihar. The next best option for me was to go through the 2,400-page book, which I always wanted to read but could not get time.”

“The day I finished the book, I got a call from the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “Are you in Delhi?,” the PM asked. I said, “Yes.”

The conversation ended. And I went off to sleep. But soon my personal staff woke me up from the deep slumber and told me that I was being re-appointed as Union minister,” reminisced Nitish.

“So my advice to all of you is that whenever you get time, you should read instead of ‘bird-watching’ at the book fair,” he remarked. The audience, comprising mostly youngsters, was in splits.

Abhay Kumar, Patna

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