Off the record

R-Day pride

India’s 18 million hearing impaired will be able to fully share the national pride, when the soldiers will march down the Rajpath this Republic Day. They may not hear the sound of the marching boots, but sign language interpreter on Doordarshan will help them relate with each significant moment. For the first time, the national television will telecast the function with simultaneous sign language interpretation on January 26.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari assured of such arrangement for these special viewers when a delegation of disability activists led by Javed Abidi met him recently. Having ratified an international convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, India is obligated to make all information accessible to everyone irrespective of disability but such arrangement was yet to be brought in place. Congress president Sonia Gandhi intervened in the issue and asked Tewari to listen to the grievances of the differently-abled.
Prakash Kumar, New Delhi

Congress’, AAP style

Rahul Gandhi’s announcement that Lok Sabha candidates in 15 constituencies would be chosen after consultations with the grass root workers and local leaders, has sent a chill down the spine of many a sitting MP. With Congress in the final stages of deciding its nominees, many leaders are heard requesting those involved in the candidate selection exercise to spare their constituency from the experiment. Congress is yet to identify these constituencies where Rahul is keen to implement a candidate selection process similar to that in the US primaries to finalise the presidential nominee of a party.

Also, a number of leaders attending the day-long AICC meeting Friday last were keen that the Congress should limit the number of times a person can be an MLA or MP to two terms. The demand was also made during meetings with Gandhi. “Which leader would like to sign his own death warrant,” asked one party worker, who had also made the
demand.
Sagar Kulkarni, New Delhi

Lalu, Nitish and twitter

It’s not quite often that two arch-rivals from this part of the cow-belt - Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar - share a dais. But after a gap of almost five years, the two friend-turned-foe did so in the presence of Union hme mnister Sushil Kumar Shinde. The occasion was launch of a Hindi daily from Patna.

The two regional satraps, however, did not miss the opportunity to take a jibe at each other. Lalu ridiculed Nitish for controlling the media in Bihar and cautioned the proprietor of the newspaper that “anyone who writes against the chief minister runs the risk of being booted out of the state.”

When it was the turn of Nitish to speak, he not only dismissed Lalu’s charge but reminded the RJD chief how most of the newspapers in Patna used to carry his front-page photograph when he (Lalu) was at the helm. “But times have changed. The same Lalu, who used to say yeh IT-YT kya hota hai, is now on Twitter, trying to connect with people.” Lalu admitted that what he had said long back was no more relevant today. “My sons Tej Pratap and Tejaswi- who are net savvy – have told me the social media is an important tool to stay connected with the people,” said Lalu even as audience enjoyed each and every moment of their ‘showdown’.
Abhay Kumar, Patna

Modi, kids’ choice

Within minutes of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leaving the dais after laying the foundation stone of two nuclear power plants in the hinterlands of Haryana, local kids took control of the empty stage. They played with flowers and marigold garlands left by the leaders. One of the kids donned a garland and acted as a Prime Minister while his mates became his followers. But for them, the PM was BJP leader Narendra Modi and not Singh who left the venue little while ago. Clearly Singh’s speech on the day of Lohri as well as the presence of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and senior Haryana Congress leader Kumari Selja failed to impress at least the kids in Gorakhpur near Hissar, who were rooting for Modi.

Kalyan Ray,New Delhi
The children openly expressed their support in favour of the saffron leader and gave slogans favouring Modi, embarrassing the department of atomic energy officials.

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