Off The Record

Off The Record

Pickpockets make hay

Ramlila Maidan, the venue of veteran social activist Anna Hazare’s fight against corruption, is full of innovative and catchy posters and placards these days. On Day One of Hazare’s 15-day hunger-strike, one such placard read – “Beware of Congressi pickpockets”. This was a sentiment expressed by the people against the government.

Seeing the poster a fellow reporter said: “Today I will make a story on these interesting banners.” Soon he realised that his purse had been pickpocketed in the crowd that had gathered to support the Gandhian.

Thereafter, it was a tough time for the correspondent, who, along with Rs 2,000 in cash, also lost his bank ATM cards, PAN card and the press ID card. After submitting a written complaint at the nearest police station, the reporter said: “Now, it is difficult to decide who the real thieves are?”
Khalid Akhter, New Delhi

Thunder ties
Much like Karnataka, Bihar Governor Devanand Konwar is also at loggerheads with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Their ‘soured’ relationship hit an all-time low after the Governor-cum-Chancellor appointed six new vice-chancellors and five pro-VCs, after due ‘consultation’ with the chief minister.

Nitish was, however, quick to point out that no such ‘consultation’ ever took place. His HRD minister too hit out at the governor for overlooking the established norms of appointment.

As the verbal duel took a turn for worse, Nitish’s Man Friday in New Delhi and party’s Rajya Sabha member Shivanand Tiwary met Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and sought Konwar’s immediate removal. “Konwar is unworthy to held the august post of the governor and as such he should be replaced forthwith,” said Tiwary in his letter to the home minister.

But then, this was not the first time that the Bihar governor-CM feud was making the headlines. A decade back, senior BJP leader Sunder Singh Bhandari, who was appointed Bihar governor by the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was also in the eye of storm after recommending dismissal of Rabri Devi government. Lalu, the proxy of ruler of Bihar, had then organised a 24-hour havan to pray for the exit of Bhandari. Much to everyone’s amusement, Lalu used kerosene oil instead of ghee to keep the havan aflame on Patna streets.

Though no such antics will take place this time, but what JD(U) apparently overlooked is that Konwar had been handpicked by Manmohan Singh, and hails from Assam -- the State from where the prime minister is a member of the Rajya Sabha.
Abhay Kumar, Patna  

‘Nervous’ Sibal
When social activist Anna Hazare zestfully narrates the story of his success in forcing six tainted ministers of Maharashtra to resign and explains how he got these “wickets” by using the weapon of satyagraha, the crowd cheers.

Though he has not named anyone from the national capital as his target, politicians and bureaucrats believe it must be Kapil Sibal because the Gandhian has more than once expressed his ‘feelings’ about him.

Sibal seems to have lost the opportunity to generate a soft feeling in this outspoken social activist due to his hardline stand on the Jan Lokpal bill in meetings of the joint drafting committee.

Angry members on Team Anna conducted their much-hyped referendum on the Lokpal bill in Sibal’s Chandni Chowk parliamentary constituency.  A bold and articulate Sibal had previously not shown any symptom of nervousness following these attacks from Anna’s camp. But this week his boldness evaporated with the Congress leadership deciding to withdraw him and Manish Tiwari from the Anna front.

The crowd at the Ramlila grounds raises slogans against Sibal and discussions on TV channels do mention his role, but the HRD minister is not visible anywhere, leading some of his partymen to say that he might grown nervous.
Anil Sinha, New Delhi

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