off the record

off the record

Imbibing change 

A few of the former Delhi ministers of the Congress have gone back to their preferred occupations after the party’s defeat in the Assembly polls.

Their increasing focus on issues other than politics is also an indication that the party leaders do not expect a drastic turnaround in the Congress’ fortune in city politics after the drubbing December last.

Former transport minister Ramakant Goswami, who is a journalist by profession, has launched a new bilingual fortnightly newspaper ‘New Delhi reporter’.

He says he has no other skill to earn a living. Practising doctor A K Walia, who served as the finance and health minister under former chief minister Sheila Dikshit, has started devoting more time to his nursing home in east Delhi.

Similarly, former ministers and businessmen Mangat Ram Singhal and Raj Kumar Chauhan have turned to their pulses and PVC material businesses. Former urban development minister Arvinder Singh is a exception.

Soon after the Congress’ poor show in the Assembly elections, he was made the Delhi Congress chief.

He continues to be the most busy and active in politics despite not being in the government any longer.

Rahul Chhabra in New Delhi.

Dual loyalty

An interesting feature of the just concluded Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Odisha was the craze among the candidates of different political parties to rope in Bollywood stars to campaign for them.

It is a different matter though that those who participated in electioneering to attract voters were ex-superstars who no longer trigger interest among cinema lovers.

However, one among these Bollywood participants — an actress who had a few blockbusters to her name but has almost vanished from the silver screen now — had grabbed the headlines of the local dailies not for her speaking  capability or looks but for her “dual loyalty”.

One day, she was seen campaigning for a BJP nominee in a coastal Assembly constituency.

The very next day, she was found lending her service for a Congress candidate in a nearby Assembly seat.

Her action did not embarrass the leaders who had roped her in. But it certainly confused and disgusted the electorates in the region.

S T Beuria in Bhubaneswar

What a waste!

When shortage of water is an election issue, misuse of water should be an issue, too. And it turned out to be one at the largely impoverished Bankura district in West Bengal last week when gallons of water was poured on a road to keep dust from irking Riya and Raima, daughters of Trinamool Congress candidate Moonmoon Sen, who went to campaign for their mother.

The temperature was 42 degrees Celsius and the roads were dusty.

The local panchayat, also controlled by the ruling Trinamool Congress, had gallons of water poured on a 4 km stretch of road so the two not-so-successful damsels do not have problems with dust flying around.

Rumours are that the women hired to pour the water walk almost the same distance everyday to get water for drinking and cooking.

And if eye-witnesses are to be believed even then Riya, an actor in several flop Hindi films, was still not happy with the arrangement.

Drimi Chaudhuri in Kolkata


As the Lok Sabha elections crossed the half-way mark, the Congress leaders are increasingly talking of a UPA-III and ruling out outside support to any Third Front experiment.

The Congress leaders are keen to avoid a situation wherein they are seen propping up Third Front governments, as they did in 1996 and 1997 and cutting a sorry figure later.

They contend that the 1996 experiment led to the BJP coming to power two years later.
If the BJP is unable to garner the numbers on its own, the Congress is also considering the options of being part of the government.

It may not take the results as a referendum on the performance of UPA-II but may look for new allies.

This would bring the DMK, SP, BSP and the Left Front back in the reckoning. The UPA-II has NCP, National Conference, RLD, a clutch of Kerala-based parties as its pre-poll allies.

Sagar Kulkarni in New Delhi

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