off the record

off the record

Vyas stumped

It was a narrow miss for the department of atomic energy which ensured a heavy media presence at Rawatbhatta for the “pour-of-concrete” event of a 700 MW nuclear reactor. At the receiving end of a persistent anti-nuclear campaign since the Fukushima disaster, the DAE picked up Rawatbhatta event to showcase India's nuclear prowess and its steadfast decision to go ahead on the nuclear path notwithstanding the Japanese accident.

But all its efforts would have gone in vain had the former union minister and Rajasthan Congress leader Girija Vyas succeeded in airing grievances of a delegation of agitated construction workers at the site. They are locals who have worked on many civil projects for years as temporary workers and are now demanding permanent jobs. Despite leading the delegation, Vyas could not talk to the media at the site even though it was not clear whether the Congress leader made a “strategic mistake” or whether the DAE and Nuclear Power Corporation officials were smart enough to usher Vyas in a different area to hold a separate meeting with the top brass.

Either way Vyas was not seen at the public function or at the press conference. The result: the DAE got the newspaper headlines it had wished.

Kalyan Ray, New Delhi

Avoiding Amar

People are recalling how actively he was pursuing his brief to malign the father-son duo of Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan—the civil society activists on the Lokpal bill drafting panel.  However, he failed miserably to cause a dent to the civil society movement. The Bhushans survived the attack to continue pursuing their agenda for a strong Lokpal bill. The former Samajwadi Party leader had his share of media attention. But the  show had an abrupt end and Amar retreated into silence.

All of a sudden, the ghost of the cash-for-vote scam resurfaced and started chasing him.  Others are also adopting the same line. In a high profile seminar,  CPM leader Prakash Karat referred to Amar Singh’s name but with a regret that Singh is being quizzed instead of those on whose behalf he worked. “In fact, no one wants to touch Amar Singh; everyone knows that he can go to any extent in assassinating one’s character. Everyone thinks it wise to avoid him,” says those who know the pulse of the national capital. 

Anil Kumar Sinha, New Delhi

Favourite co-star

Guess who is the favourite co-star of veteran actress and Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka Hema Malini?

While most of her admirers wanted to know this, the question has so far remained unanswered as Hema did not want to antagonise her other male colleagues from Bollywood. But recently, the original dream girl of tinsel-town spilled the beans on the sets of Ke Bani Crorepati, the Bhojpuri version of Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC).

The legendary actress showed no inhibitions in admitting before a motley crowd of KBC audience that it was Bihari Babu—Shatrughan Sinha—who was her favourite co-star.

“Right from the beginning, Shatruji has been very supportive and kind to me,” she averred.

Shatrughan, who is hosting the show for Siddhartha Basu’s Big Synergy, and which is being telecast on Mahua channel, thanked Hema profusely and returned the compliment by saying that she looked as graceful and elegant as she used to be in the early 70s.

The two actors-turned-BJP MPs, who have worked together in several Bollywood hits including Manoj Kumar’s Kranti and Manmohan Desai’s Naseeb, were at ease during the shoot of a special episode of KBC.

Before Hema left, she had won Rs 25 lakh, and was just two questions away from being a crorepati. Later, she donated the prize money to a charitable organisation, and asked others too to be philanthropic.

Abhay Kumar, Patna

BBMP apathy

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) apparently does not care much about public opinion or consultations.  Though the Karnataka Local Fund Authorities’ Fiscal Responsibilities Act, 2003, stipulates that the Palike hold at least two public consultations before drafting its budget, the Palike has avoided doing so.  Many officials are unaware about the Act too. 

However, a civic NGO group did have a pre-budget meeting with various organisation heads to put forth their expectations from the budget before the BBMP. Ironically, none of the BBMP officials turned up for the event.

Another recent example of the BBMP caring two hoots about public opinion was its bypassing of overwhelming public sentiment against cutting trees along the Sankey road stretch for road-widening.

Poornima Nataraj, Bangalore

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