Off the record

Off the record

Not so smart

Technology in the hands of Bangalore’s traffic constables seems to have been placed in their palms like scare crows in the fields. Good if it deters violators. While the Bangalore Traffic Police’s various initiatives of adapting newer technology––using Blackberry phones to generate spot bills; creating photographic evidence of violations through digital cameras — has been appreciated well by the public, not everything is appropriately used. However, lack of adequate training and in some cases no training had put the cops in an embarrassing situation many times. It was one of those days for Mallikarjunaiah (name changed) who was deputed at the junction near Mantri mall.

Going about his routine job of managing traffic, Mallikarjunaiah was also scouting for violators so as to make a quick buck. And, almost as if he was doing it for the constable, a commuter broke the signal but stopped right in front of Mallikarjunaiah, who pulled out his digital camera and clicked pictures. A minute later, the constable, in line with the reputaiton the department has in the City,  was negotiating with the commuter, and eventually struck a deal.

“...I’ll pay you Rs 100 but you will have to delete the picture in front of me,” the commuter said. Having agreed to the deal, Mallikarjunaiah accepted the money. However, the commuter, after paying the cop realised that there was no photo in the camera.
The constable had forgotten to insert a memory chip into the camera and the device memory was full!

Chethan Kumar, Bangalore

Art of living

Aware of the fact that it has not been able to derive political mileage of the Centre’s largesse to Bihar, the Congress mandarins are now working overtime to tell its voters here that the State is now back on its radar. But in the process, the grand old party is trying to keep both the regional satraps – Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar – in good humour. This was amply evident when senior leaders Sanjay Nirupam and Bihar in-charge Gulchain Singh Charak gave broad indications that Manmohan Singh will soon inaugurate Harnaut coach factory in Nalanda and a railway wheel factory in Chapra.

The foundation for the Harnaut coach factory was laid by then President APJ Abdul Kalam when Nitish Kumar was Railway Minister in Vajpayee’s regime. But since the site fell in Nalanda, the home town of Nitish, the work was never taken up speedily by his successor Lalu Prasad.

On the other hand, work at the wheel factory in Lalu’s Lok Sabha constituency Chapra (in Saran) was also moving at a snail’s pace, because Lalu’s successors (the three successive railway ministers from Trinamool) never evinced any keen interest in Bihar projects. But now with Congress Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal at the helm in rail bhawan, both the projects are chugging along well and are near completion. Plans are afoot to rope in UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi too for the inauguration function. This, a Congress insider said, will serve dual purpose. While madam will keep Lalu pleased with the Chapra project, Manmohan, who shares a good rapport with Nitish, will keep the Bihar CM in good humour by opening a coach factory in his hometown Nalanda. No wonder, the Congress knows the ‘art of living’.

Abhay Kumar, Patna

Firm signal

G K Vasan, Union Shipping Minister and Congress leader G K Moopanar’s son, came in for a rude jolt and huge embarrassment this week, as a sensational poster by a Congress functionary in Tamil Nadu – announcing the “rebirth” of the erstwhile regional ‘Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC)’ in the State- dotted city walls.

The TMC was dramatically born in 1996 under the leadership of  Vasan’s father Moopanar, when a major section of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) then revolted against the then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao’s decision to continue electoral ties with  Jayalalitha-led AIADMK for the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls that year.  It led to a split and TMC went on to sweep both polls in alliance with DMK that year, completely marginalising the TNCC. This latest poster with a beaming face of Vasan declared the “rebirth of TMC”, barely a week after the DMK had quit the Congress-led UPA over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, suggesting repeat of a 1996-split in the TNCC to help the DMK in Tamil Nadu.

As the rumours threatened to get out of hand, Vasan publicly clarified at a press conference in Satyamurthy Bhavan, the TNCC headquarters, that there was no question of reviving the TMC. The over-enthusiastic poster boy, one S Srikanth of Dindigul, has been suspended from the party to send a firm signal to Pradesh Congressmen not to be “misled” by such campaigns!

M R Venkatesh, Chennai