Off the record

WB chief no run-of-the-mill

A day after he flew down to Patna in his chartered plane, World Bank President Robert Bruce Zoellick expressed his desire to go for jogging next morning. At the crack of dawn, notwithstanding the biting chill (the minimum temperature that day was 4 degree C), Zoellick got up at 5 am and was out of his suite in a posh hotel.

Attired in his track pants and sneakers, he went jogging with his personal security officer (PSO) to the Dakbungalow intersection, instead of the pre-designated Gandhi Maidan.
As Zoellick was found ‘missing’, albeit temporarily, this set off alarm bells among the local cops who were deployed in plain clothes across the historical Gandhi Maidan for his security. A police Gypsy vehicle was rushed to trace the VVIP. But an unruffled Zoellick was found making rapid strides along with his PSO on Patna’s streets.

He eventually went to Gandhi Maidan too and made three rounds, thereby covering nearly 10 kilometres.

Watching his stamina, the security-men, all former sportspersons, looked sheepish. One of them had no inhibitions in admitting that even during their morning drills, they don’t have to run so long.

One reason, why they were still pot-bellied, and Zoellick slim and trim.

Abhay Kumar, Patna

Lalu in splendid isolation

Successive defeats in Bihar have sent Lalu Prasad into political isolation. His longtime allies are now searching for alternatives to sustain their political careers. Lalu is so lonely that even stories of dissensions in the rival Janata Dal-United camp do not amuse him.
Compared to Lalu, his alliance partner Ramvilas Paswan appears to be better positioned. He has started investing issues that can give him, at least, some sustainability. Paswan’s visit to Kashmir is one such efforts to keep himself relevant. But Lalu is not even left with this kind of space.

And yet the corridors of the Rail Bhavan, where he once served, are now agog with stories of how Lalu revived the railways and make it a success story.

The most exciting of these stories relates to his controversial brother-in-law Sadhu Yadav, who supposedly wielded considerable power in the ministry at that time.
It is claimed that Lalu had circulated a letter among his staff that no one from his family should be entertained by officials.

His defeat in Bihar is being attributed to his brother-in-law. Although some at Rail Bhavan are singing paens to Lalu, the big question whose answer appears to be elusive is whether he will ever be able to resurrect himself politically in his home state.

Anil Sinha, New Delhi

Protest politics in capital

Political leaders of all political hues are converging these days in Delhi to hold protest rallies just so that their bosses could see and hear them.

The latest among several political leaders to descend on the national capital was Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, who staged a dharna to ostensibly voice his stand against the award of the Krishna river waters tribunal. He was backed by over 20 Congress and some Telugu Desam MPs and MLAs.

Earlier, the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam  (MDMK) and bit political parties from Tamil Nadu and other states organised their respective protest rallies in Delhi against the Central government. This, of course, was done with the avowed belief that holding large rallies in the national capital would draw the attention not just of the powers that be, but also of the media, both print and electronic.

Ajit Athrady, New Delhi

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