Off the record

Gate-crashers at Prez do

Can someone gate-crash into a state dinner hosted by the governor in the honour of the President? A few days ago this happened when President Pranab Mukherjee was on a two-day Bihar visit.

Governor Devanand Konwar had organised a state banquet for the President in the Durbar Hall of Raj Bhavan. Apart from the chief minister, other 53 people on the guest list included cabinet ministers, speaker of the legislative assembly, chairman of the legislative council and leader of the opposition in both the Houses.

A few minutes before Pranab Mukherjee was scheduled to arrive at the Durbar Hall, two persons, who were “not on the list of invitees” barged into the venue and entered into a verbal duel with security personnel at Raj Bhavan.

The two heavyweights were deputy speaker of the assembly Amarendra Pratap Singh and deputy chairman of the council Saleem Pervez. They contended that even though they may not be on the list of invitees, but since they held constitutional posts in the state, their names should have been there in the list of guests for state dinner.

With neither the security personnel nor the two leaders ready to relent, there was sort of pandemonium. Minutes before the President arrived in the hall, the two were reportedly accommodated on two empty chairs to avoid an ugly scene.

Incidentally, leader of the opposition in council Ghulam Gaus and cooperative minister Giriraj Singh could not come to the state dinner, which eventually helped the Raj Bhavan mandarins save the day.

Abhay Kumar, Patna

Loyalty test in Congress

The political sky of Delhi is filled with noise and colours of salvo fired by Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan at Robert Vadra. They had alleged that Vadra became wealthy without any business activity, thanks to realty major DLF for causing restlessness in the Congress. The party finds the Gandhi family that protects the flock is in the soup.

In an atmosphere of confused responses, it is quite natural that Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi and her advisers would monitor what their lieutenants are saying in private or public. Leaders, on their part, have also taken up the issue with all valors and are searching for TV channels to air loyalty. But, the task does not seem to be easy and there are chances of inviting wrath too.

Insiders say some responses have failed to pass the test of loyalty. They cite finance minister P Chidambaram’s statement in Mumbai, which does not categorically reject allegations against Vadra, as the example. Chidambaram has said transactions were private and need not be probed by the government. “Why did he avoid saying that nothing is wrong in these deals?” asked an insider. Beware! Here, both silence and speech are dangerous!  

Anil Sinha, New Delhi

Pat for an editor

Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s deputy governor Subir Gokuran, briefly went down memory lane delivering the “Frank Moraes” memorial lecture, instituted to honour a doyen of Indian journalism.

The scholarly Dr Gokuran, whose bulbous eyes reflect a constant intellectual excitement in the person, paid rich tributes to Frank Moraes, saying the latter had “earned great reputation” as editor of some of the leading Indian newspapers.

Equally excited by the fact that Moraes and himself happened to study in the same college, St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, Gokuran was inclined to see in it more than a matter of coincidence though their periods of study was “50 years apart”. 

Despite the obvious generation gap, Gokuran, as a former student of St Xavier’s, was very happy in being able to acknowledge the contributions of another alumnus, if only to drive home how a tradition is enriched across generations!

M R Venkatesh, Chennai

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