off the record

Celebrities’ show

The ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal has one of the highest numbers of celebrities contesting in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. From reigning Bengali cinema heartthrob Dev and yesteryears’ matinee idol Suchitra Sen’s daughter, Moonmoon Sen to former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia, the party has fielded a variety of faces that are well-known not just in Bengal but even in other parts of the country.

As these candidates are all set out to campaign for themselves and for the party in the run-up to the general elections, the standing order from Trinamool supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is that they are to be treated like honoured guests. In keeping with Didi’s diktat, workers of the faction-riddled party are ensuring candidates are treated well. In some places they are even keeping handy drinking water, lemon juice and coconut water for the candidates’ comfort in the high summer. Drimi Chaudhuri, Kolkata
Assets and liabilitiesThe assets of some politicians have risen multiple times in the last five years. One such leader is BJP star MP Shatrughan Sinha, the actor-turned-politician, representing Patna Sahib Lok Sabha constituency. Shatru’s movable assets have doubled from Rs 8.08 crore in 2009 to Rs 14.9 cr in 2014. However, his immovable assets have shown an astronomical rise from Rs 6.9 crore in 2009 to 109.9 crore in 2014.

But Shatru offers an explanation for this abnormal hike. “Earlier, the contestants used to furnish the book value of property, that is, the rate at which the assets were purchased. Now, the Election Commission wants us to declare the actual market value of the property/assets at present. Hence, one can notice the abnormal increase in the assets’ value,” said Shatrughan, who is locked in a triangular contest against Congress candidate Kunal, a Bhojpuri actor, and Parveen Amanullah of Aam Admi Party (AAP).Abhay Kumar, Patna
Getting a taste of UPFormer Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh, who is contesting the Lok Sabha election from Jat-dominated Baghpat seat in western Uttar Pradesh, must have dealt with dreaded underworld dons during his tenure and brought them to their knees. Singh, though a native of UP's Meerut district which is not far from Baghpat, may not have got a taste of the ‘Jat land,’ owing to his preoccupation. Well, he has now got it. His rival and Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh cautioned him against thinking that the ‘police terror’ will work there.

“People of Baghpat do not get scared of police,” Ajit declared at a recent meeting. “We are pehelwans (wrestlers)... Mumbai police danda will not work in Baghpat,” he said without taking any name.The ex-commissioner must now have got the taste of UP.Sanjay Pandey, Lucknow
Envy and mockeryFor many ordinary citizens, Nandan Nilekani and his monetary assets are a source of envy. For many others, it is a source of mockery. On Friday, while the entire media contingent waited with bated breath for Nilekani to come out from the returning officer's chamber to speak to them, an old homeless person saw an opportunity to make a quick buck or two.

As she made her way to an already irritated lot of television reporters seeking alms, few of them were in a mood to take a jibe at Nilekani. When the homeless person asked one reporter to spare her some change, the reporter said: “Wait with us for a few more minutes, Nilekani will come out and spare us all some money. He can take care of all of us for a really long time.”Sandeep Moudgal, Bangalore

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