Off the record

The plain truth

On a day when Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi was boasting about how the State had maintained its growth trajectory in the 11th Five Year Plan period and the State’s economy was robust, Shilpa Singh, the first-ever Miss Universe contestant from Bihar, stunned everyone when she said that her village in Samastipur district had no power since 1970.Though both of them were addressing newsmen at separate press conferences, it was a notable study in contrast.

While Modi maintained that notwithstanding the slowdown in Indian economy, Bihar had maintained its growth at the rate of 11.95 per cent in the 11th Five year Plan period, Shilpa, who was in Patna to thank people from her home State for their support during the Miss Universe 2012 pageant held in Las Vegas, said, “There has been no electricity in my village since the 1970s.”

Shilpa originally is from Vishnupur Diha village in Samastipur. “The power lines were washed away in floods during the 70s. Since then, it has not been repaired. I wish electricity is returned to my village so that it could help children in their education,” said the Miss Universe contestant. In sharp contrast to the facts, Modi, however, continued to blow his own trumpet. “Bihar has recorded a dramatic turnaround from 2007 onwards. It’s the highest growth rate in decades in the State with all the sectors improving in tandem and it is sustainable,” he asserted. “The propaganda machinery, far from reality, is working overtime in Bihar,” a wag later commented.

Abhay Kumar, Patna  
   Shocking act

Just when the nation was rattled again by the twin blasts in Hyderabad, an obscure couple at Arakkonam, 60 km from Chennai, stirred many a conscience on Friday by voluntarily paying with their lives to raise social awareness about how fatal bureaucratic red-tape can turn.The hapless couple, K Kothandapani and his wife Bharathi, ironically chose their wedding day (Feb 22) to end their lives by hanging themselves at their home, driven by the ‘inordinate delay’ in getting the compensation directed by the Madras High Court (HC) for the loss of their only son K K Niranjan, one of the six sailors who drowned when the ship ‘Prathiba Cauvery’ sank during cyclone ‘Nilam’ on Oct 31, 2012.

Local Police found three suicide notes near the couples’ bodies. One of them was for the ‘Judges of Chennai’. In that, they pointed to the bureaucratic red-tape causing undue delay in disbursing the interim compensation of Rs 5 lakh despite the HC’s directive. “We became like beggars, and so decided to end life by hanging,” they said in their note, hoping their action would save the parents of the other five dead sailors. The couple’s lawyer Prabhakaran, who brought this tragedy to the Court’s notice, said that he had prepared a contempt petition against the HC’s Registrar General who delayed the amount disbursal by raising one query after another. He was getting ready to get the parents’ signatures on it, only to shockingly discover that they had killed themselves!

MR Venkatesh, Chennai

Escaping blasts

Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has been facing “blasts” ever since he joined the ministry. The first one was a social blast after the Delhi gang-rape, and it ended in a hurried ordinance against sexual-offences. Shinde successfully survives the blast.

His Saffron-terror remark had all the noise to  threaten disruption of the budget session of  Parliament. No sooner than he managed an escape from the controversy over the saffron-terror remark; he was faced with a real explosion in Hyderabad. Everyone knows that echoes of terror-blasts live long. But, it would not have been a problem, had Shinde not disclosed that the centre had alerted the state. On such occasions, people rally behind the leadership. But, by his disclosure, he has presented a handy weapon to the main opposition BJP to allege that Shinde cannot lead the country in moments of crisis.

The national capital is abuzz over Shinde’s errors. People are making comparisons between him and his predecessor Chidambaram. In political circles people recall how Chidambaram had friends in BJP, who helped him in such moments.

“Shinde does need outside support to remain in his seat.  He has blessings of his own leadership; that is more than enough,” says a political observer.“So, he can survive any blast,” nods another one in agreement.Anil Sinha, New Delhi  

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