Off the record

Modi’s magic number

While on camera, politicians in the national capital were more than cautious in reacting to Narendra Modi’s victory in Gujarat.  Faces of Arun Jaitly and Nitin Gadkari were showing all the nervousness which everyone would like to hide. Others like L K Advani or Sushma Swaraj chose to go into hiding.

We have been hearing about the magic number - the number which is required to be in majority for a party in an Assembly or Parliament. In the case of Modi, this number suddenly got changed. People started talking about 117 as the magic number, the number of seats he had won in the last elections. Modi’s face was  also not glowing as despite facing no competition from the Oppoairion, he failed to score some thing like a double century  he was expecting to.

However, even after his not coming out as a smasher in the Gujarat game, politicians in Delhi are scared. They are sure he would stake his claim as and when the time comes. They are hiding their scare in public, but this is making them aggressive in private. A senior NDA leader almost lost his temper when he was asked about Modi’s claim for becoming a prime ministerial candidate.

“Every leader including the BJP president has made it clear that the issue has not been discussed. The post of the prime minister of India is not a pakoda (a popular snack in north India) that anyone can fry it for him. There are many people in the country who can lead the country,” the senior leader angrily replied.

What would have been the scenario, had Modi scored above his magic number and broken his own  record?

Anil Sinha, New Delhi

A leaf out of Bihar’s book

Soon after the Bihar government auctioned nearly 650 sophisticated mobiles seized from Patna’s high-security Beur Jail and decided to spend the funds for prisoners’ welfare, the Karnataka regime too expressed its desire to implement the Beur model of auctioning articles seized from jails.

Karnataka Principal Secretary (Home) R H Auradker recently wrote to his Bihar counterpart Amir Subhani and sought information on the procedure of auctioning such banned items.

The prison department in Bihar, earlier this month, had auctioned 711 mobiles seized from the jail. In a first-of-its-kind move and 641 mobiles were sold for Rs 1.67 lakh. The money thus collected is supposed to be spent on the welfare of the jail inmates.

IG (Prisons) Anand Kishore said it was a matter of pride that other states too wanted to emulate the Bihar model of auctioning articles seized from jail inmates. Acknowledging the receipt of a letter from the Karnataka government, Kishore said instructions had been issued “to share all the information with our Karnataka counterparts.”

Beur Jail superintendent Shivendra Priyadarshi too has received many such calls from Delhi and other states seeking information about the auction of banned items. A plan was afoot to open a separate bank account in which such funds could be deposited and used exclusively for prisoners’ welfare.

Abhay Kumar, Patna 

All prayers for Nithyasree

Since the December 2004 tsunami, hardly has the ‘Margazhi’ Music Festival in Chennai, which draws ‘rasikas’ and connoisseurs of Indian classical music and dance during Christmas time from all parts of the globe, been more saddened than by the shocking bereavement that befell one of Karnatic music’s most promising singers, Nithyasree, as her husband Mahadevan committed suicide by jumping into the Adyar River here on December 20.

Apart from the personal loss, the poignancy of the tragedy was felt as it came amid a series of ‘kutcheris’ (performances) lined up for her in the various ‘Sabhas’ of the Metro for this year’s music season including at the prestigious ‘Music Academy’ on December 30. On that very evening of the sad demise of Mahadevan, a ‘Sabha’ which had to cancel her programme in a rare gesture said in its poster, “Our Thoughts are with you…. Peace.”

Eminent Next-Gen Carnatic musicians like Vijay Siva and T M Krishna were among the first who rushed to Nithyasree’s home to share her grief, whose grandparents on both sides were outstanding figures in classical music – D K Pattammal on her paternal side, and ‘Mridangam’ maestro Palghat Mani Iyer on her maternal side. Mahadevan, who in recent months suffered from severe depression, too hails from a noted musical family in composite Thanjavur district.

But Nithyasree’s close relatives, even as police investigation is on, say they hardly had any inkling that such a time bomb awaited the young, tender artiste who also made waves as a playback singer in several films.

M R Venkatesh, Chennai

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