OFF THE RECORD


Tim’s family at Tim’s show

The US embassy in New Delhi had a briefing for Indian and American mediapersons by Ambassador Timothy J Roemer on PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to Washington. When journalists were waiting for Roemer, an elderly American walked in and politely asked an Indian scribe sitting on the third row if the seat next to him was already taken. As the journalist told him no, he took the seat.

Next, he introduced himself smilingly: “Hello, I am James.” The journo asked him if he belonged to the tribe. Pat came the reply: “No, I am not.” As the journo gave him a curious look, the American meekly announced: “In fact, my son is the ambassador here these days.”

James Roemer then engaged in a brief, lively chat with the journalists who sat nearby. “That’s my wife and Tim’s mom, Mary Ann,” he said, as an elderly woman walked in. She was followed by a younger lady. “And that’s Tim’s wife Sally.” Mary took one of the reserved seats on the left of the lectern. So did Sally. James, however, preferred to sit among the journos all through the briefing and nodded appreciatively when his son smartly fielded tricky questions on US-China bonhomie.

James, who worked at University of Notre Dam as a dean of students and also practiced law, retired a few years back and now keeps travelling with Mary. “We have five kids. And we often go to see either one or two.”  The envoy later introduced his parents to the journalists. “They have been exploring this wonderful country. And we would have loved to have them here for a couple of more weeks,” said Roemer junior.

Anirban Bhaumik, Delhi

Montek’s Bihar link

Most people in the bureaucratic circles know that NK Singh, the former member of Planning Commission, who is now a JD-U MP (Rajya Sabha) from Bihar, and deputy chairman of plan panel Montek Singh Ahluwalia had together served in the finance ministry before joining the Yojna Bhavan. But very few people have an idea that their ‘dostana’ (friendship) goes back to the college days when they studied together at St Stephen’s. The story of their association came from the horse’s mouth when Montek, who was in Bihar a few days back, recounted the good old days while attending the NK’s book release function in Patna.

Taking a trip down memory lane, Montek recalled his Bihar connection. “NK and I were studying at St Stephen’s. When I was offered a scholarship at Oxford, I had to apply for a passport. In those days, getting a passport was an arduous task. It was NK’s father, TP Singh, a former civil servant, who bailed me out. He was a signatory in my passport application,” recounted Montek, even as NK nodded his head.

Abhay Kumar, Patna


The battling Rams

What is in a name? A lot it seems. An assembly constituency falling under Ranchi district has been loyal in sending a candidate having the tag of ‘Ram’ in his name to the assembly. Interestingly, the representatives of the seat included members of a variety of communities ranging from Brahmin to OBC to the Dalit samaj in the past ten elections.

Virtually a pocket borough of the BJP in the past four elections, Kanke constituency is in the limelight once again, for the battle ahead is clearly drawn between two Rams: BJP’s sitting MLA Ramchadra Baitha and JMM’s Ram Samarilal.

In 1967, a Brahmin candidate Ram Nayak Chaubey of JKD won the seat, followed by Ramtahal Chaudhari, an OBC, twice in 1972 and 1977 polls on the Jan Sangh ticket. The Congress nominee Ramratan Ram won the seat for first time in 1980. Later, when the seat was reserved for the schedule castes, Congress’ Hari Ram won in 1985 before the seat being won by BJP’s Ramcharda Baitha. In 2000, BJP’s Ramcharda Naik won from here.

Another engrossing aspect of the electoral battle in Kanke constituency is that the Rams have ended up as runners-up as well during the past seven elections. Hey, Ram!

Sandeep Bhaskar, Ranchi

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