Off the record

Off the record

Cold shoulder

Nearly four years back, when Prime Minister of Mauritius Navin Chandra Ramgoolam visited Patna, Nitish Kumar and his cabinet colleagues were in full attendance at the Patna airport to receive the PM of Indian origin. But last week when the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad Bissessar, visited Bihar, the same warmth was missing.

Although Bissessar too, like Ramgoolam, has her roots in the state, not a single minister from Nitish’s cabinet was there at the Patna airport when she alighted from an Air India flight.

An hour before she came from Kolkata and got off from the aircraft to board an Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter (parked at Patna airport) en route Bhelpur village in Bihar Buxar’s district, Nitish had left for his sewa yatra. His deputy Sushil Modi was busy attending a meeting in Bhopal. But what about the other ministers? Any of them could have received the first woman prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, whose ancestors lived in Buxar.

The Bihar government has a readymade explanation: “While Ramgoolam was on an official trip, Kamla Persad was on a personal visit. But even then, the Bihar government accorded her the status of a ‘State guest’ and a senior IAS officer received her at the airport.”

And as per the protocol norms, Art and Culture Minister Sukhda Pandey was there at Bhelpur to receive Kamla and her entourage, the source clarified.

Though the visiting dignitary did not crib one bit about the lacklustre response from the Nitish regime, the common people’s enthusiasm at the nondescript village made up for the ‘cold treatment.’ More than one lakh people in Bhelpur gave Kamla a rousing reception, which left her in tears.

Abhay Kumar, Patna

Cry for divine logistics

It is a lofty spectacle to see a large number of people including the poor turn up to listen with such reverence to hundreds of musicians paying musical tribute to the saint-poet of Carnatic music, Sri Thyagaraja at his ‘Samadhi’ in Thiruvaiyaru in Tamil Nadu, as they did last week too on ‘Bahula Panchami’ day that marks his shedding of mortal coil.
The soul-stirring ‘Pancha Ratna Keerthans’, the ‘five gems’ of Thyagaraja, wafts across with a divine chorus from the banks of the Cauvery, where five of its branches converge to give that place name ‘Thiruvaiyaru’. This time it was the 165th ‘aradhana’ year of musical offering to the great saint’s memory, speaking for a miraculous, unbroken tradition that melts hearts beyond boundaries.

But this aesthetics can be even better if the organisers get the logistics straight, feel senior citizens like G V Krishnan, who was just back from Thiruvaiyaru after attending the ‘aradhana’. “Many of those coming there are old and elderly, who do not even get a chair to sit. There are hardly any toilet facilities there. Surely divine culture can go with minimum logistics,” says Krishnan, echoing how the venue infrastructure needs more care.

M R Venkatesh, Chennai

Throat trouble

Estranged rebel scion of the Badal family, Manpreet Badal, a four-time MLA, has a lot more to worry about that just his political adversaries this time. Manpreet’s rigorous election schedule, one that involves addressing several rallies in dusty villages of Punjab, has left him with a cyst in his throat.

He requires surgery as advised to him by doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi. But Manpreet is unfazed. Like all netas, he too likes to speak. This is the first election he is contesting without the support of his uncle chief minister’s party. He’s decided to put off his surgery until next  month.

His aides say Manpreet addresses on an average rallies and public meetings for over six hours in a day. The chief of the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) had sent his medical report to AIIMS for further tests. Doctors have advised him not to exert his throat, but that would be like committing suicide for Manpreet considering that he has a lot of ground to cover in his first elections as PPP chief.

Manpreet says he cannot agree to what doctors say, at least until January 28 when canvassing ends.

Gautam Dheer, Chandigarh

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