off the record

Music to Congress ears

All top honchos from the industry were waiting with bated breath for the rare photo opportunity when the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) strongman Nitish Kumar was supposed to meet his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee at a business summit in Kolkata.

The meeting assumed significance as it was not only the two chief ministers, but the two regional satraps (who also served as railway ministers in Vajpayee’s regime), who were to hold parleys ever since Mamata took over Bengal’s mantle.

But lo and behold! The weather-god played the spoilsport. The flight which was to carry Nitish from Patna to Kolkata could not take off on time due to dense fog in Bihar’s capital. Also, Nitish arrived at the venue one hour after Mamata left.

Nitish hard-sold Bihar to a room full of investors and captains of industry, including Sanjeev Goenka and Vijay Mallya, with twin promises: hassle-free availability of land and improved law and order in the State.
The audience at the summit, organised by the Young Presidents’ Organisation, listened to Nitish in rapt attention.

Nitish, however, differed with Mamata on two counts. He reportedly did not endorse her view that regional parties would rule the Centre in the coming days. And secondly, he favoured reservation in promotion for members of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes.

“Members of the SC and ST must get reservation in promotion. If required, the JD-U will vote in favour of the bill in Parliament,” he said at the Patna airport. Given the fact that his wish is the last word in the JD-U, Nitish’s assertion must be music to Congress ears.

Abhay Kumar, Patna

A lasting influence

Early impressions in school go a long way in shaping a person’s life. AIADMK supremo J Jayalalitha spoke about it at some length at a Christmas function her party hosted in the city few days back. And certainly it was newsy, both sociologically and historically.  

Jayalalitha’s primary schooling, as several may know, began in Bangalore’s Bishop Cotton girls’ school. But it is not so well known that she had two stints there. After her primary school, Amma said she spent a year at the Holy Angels convent in the then Madras and then went back to Bishop Cotton to study there for four more years. Again, relocating to Chennai in 1958, she joined Church Park school and completed her matriculation with flying colours in 1964.

But equally significant, as Jayalalitha recalled, were the values she imbibed from those Christian institutions, “which shaped me and stand in good stead even today”.

“At Bishop Cotton in Bangalore, I used to regularly attend the Sunday school Bible classes held at its chapel,” Jayalalitha reminisced. Books with colourful pictures illustrating Biblical parables were given to children.

At home, Jayalalitha soon mastered those Biblical stories by heart, and “their moral message has been my beacon,” Amma added to drive home how Christianity has influenced her.

M R Venkatesh, Chennai

Pedestrian MP

Gone are the days when you would encounter an MP walking through Parliament street or other streets that surround Parliament House. People fondly recall how MPs like socialist Surendra Mohan would emerge from a nearby bus stop to enter VP House at Rafi Marg, where he resided.

This is just a few yards away from Parliament House.  In the fifties and sixties too, very few MPs owned cars, and they would either walk to Parliament House or use public transport.

Things have changed, maybe due to the presence of a large number of crorepati MPs around. Now, hardly anyone walks even to the outer gate of Parliament. In addition to their own private luxury cars, Saansad Seva (at the service of MPs) is available.  

Exceptions are there, though. CPI leader D Raja is one. He walks through streets, stops at places to meet people and at times, enjoys a tea at a street shop. You can see him emerging from or entering VP House where he lives.

Once a person was excited at his arrival at the tea shop and asked, “Does an MP walk like this?”

The other day, he was found politely declining a lift from a senior Congress MP.  The MP quipped, “You do not want to ride a car driven by someone else!” Raja threw a smile.

Does it really make sense when Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal  demands no red light luxury to VIP vehicles?

Anil Sinha, New Delhi

Comments (+)