Off the record

Off the record

Straight drive

Guess why Nitish Kumar, of all persons, invited Nepal Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai to inaugurate the three-day ‘Global summit on changing Bihar’ in Patna. Well, noone exactly knows the answer, but the grapevine has it that Nitish wanted an improved relationship with Nepal as Bihar shares a 726 km-long porous border with the Himalayan Kingdom.

No wonder, he not only rolled out a red carpet welcome to Bhattarai but also hosted lunch at his residence in the honour of the Nepal PM. By making Bhattarai feel as a ‘special guest’, Nitish is hoping that an improved tie with Nepal would go a long way in ridding Bihar several of its ailments. Notably, as many as 68.8 lakh hectares of the State’s 94.16 lakh hectares of farmland are prone to floods mainly caused by rivers originating in Nepal such as the Kosi, Burhi Gandak and Bagmati.

However, in order to please Bhattarai, the babudom committed a blunder when they asked Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia to sit in the gallery instead of the dais. A visibly angry Nitish reprimanded one of the top officials for the ‘disrespect’ shown to Montek. The CM immediately apologised to Montek and personally escorted him to the dais.

But the damage was already done. When his turn came, Montek subtly played down Nitish’s oft-repeated demand for special status to Bihar. 

“Instead of offering ‘sales tax concessions’ to lure investors, Bihar should try to put GST (goods and services tax) in place and work to provide proper infrastructure facilities for clustering of industries,” Montek made a clean breast.
Abhay Kumar, Patna

Kani’s gift to her dad

This seems something straight from the DMK Rajya Sabha MP Ms Kanimozhi’s heart to her beloved father and party supremo ‘Kalaignar’ Karunanidhi.

A few days ago, Kanimozhi, nominated to the Upper House from Tamil Nadu, reached out to a long-felt need in her dad’s Assembly constituency of Tiruvarur, also a stone’s throw from ‘Kalaignar’s native place in erstwhile composite Thanjavur district.

The local people have been demanding a much-needed bridge over the Vettar river, a branch of the Cauvery, linking Kamugukudi and Abivritheesvaram areas, falling within Koradachery Panchayat Union in Tiruvarur. And they had petitioned Karunanidhi this time for the same as he was elected from that constituency in last year’s Assembly polls.

In deference to Kalaignar’s request, Kanimozhi has recommended setting apart
Rs 1.15 crore to construct this vital bridge from her ‘Local Area MP’s Constituency Development Fund’. She has a greater latitude with regard to the place sanctioned as she is a member of the Rajya Sabha.

This bridge-link, when completed, will help workers, students, farmers, ‘sarkari’ staff, teachers and others to avoid traveling an additional circuitous 8 km daily to their respective places of work/institutions and slash their travel distance to just one km!

Kanimozhi’s thoughtful sanction from her MPs’ Fund has come as a big consolation to her dad, who is still sulking under the intra-party sibling rivalry between M K Stalin and M K Alagiri, say party sources.
M R Venkatesh, Chennai

BJP’s Generals in the UP battle

No one would deny that Uttar Pradesh poll is most complex in the country. The complexity introduced by the size of the electorates and the demographical diversity has been compounded by  personality- based politics.

If Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP) has Mayawati and the Congress Rahul Gandhi, Samajawadi Party has Mulayam and Akhilesh. The BJP too, though hesitantly, put up Uma Bharati as its face. With so many stalwarts in the fray, the poll battle has turned into more than one battle similar to Mahabharata.

A brief look at the battling armies reveals that all other parties except BJP, single command is in operation. Despite the official appointment of Uma Bharati , BJP have too many generals working at cross purposes.  Kalraj Mishra, Lalji Tondon and  Rajnath Singh,  all of them are in the battle with their own small armies and, in fact,  fighting against each other.

They have hardly anything to do with Uma Bharati’s taking on BSP, Congress and the BJP.  Kalraj is fighting hard in Lucknow for his own seat and Lalji for his son Gopal Tondon in another part of the same city. They are not helping each other. Rajnath and Uma Bharati are also marching in different directions. Political observers in the national capital watch this battle with amusement.

“Are they replaying the epic war? Someone asks.

“Of course!” answer comes in, “BJP is keeping up the ethos of Mahabharata alive. They are fighting against members of their own family-the political family!
Anil Sinha, New Delhi