Off the record

Off the record

Being civil

In the bitter fight for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, Capt Amarinder Singh (Congress) and Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia (Akali Dal)  crossed swords several times. But they could not help a chance encounter in one of the polling booths on the voting day. But the two chose to be civil with each other.

While Majithia, BJP leader Arun Jaitely's Man Friday, was at the booth to cast his vote, Amarinder arrived there to check the polling process. The two leaders shook hands and inquired about each other’s well-being. Majithia bent , apparently to touch Amarinder’s feet. The latter patted him on the back. Majithia addressed him as “uncle”. The bonhomie didn’t last long. Majithia targeted Amarinder soon after while talking to mediapersons. “Chachaji is very cordial. But he likes to paint a certain impression about me which he thinks will get him votes. I can tell you that Arun Jaitley will win by a thumping margin.”

Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi

Stealing thunder

Union Minister Jairam Ramesh may be blaming the UPA misfortunes on Congress’ failed communication strategy but things would have looked different had his senior colleagues in the ministry pitched in earlier. The AICC had appointed Union ministers P Chidambaram, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Salman Khurshid and Anand Sharma as senior spokespersons of the party. Congress sources said most of the seniors kept away from the AICC briefing on the pretext that their counterparts in the BJP were not of the same stature. A view among the Congress seniors was that BJP spokespersons Meenakshi Lekhi and  Nirmala Sitharaman, who held fort at the BJP headquarters, were minnows and hence they stayed away. Sharma and Chidambaram started frequenting the AICC just a few days ahead of the first phase of elections. By then the BJP ‘minnows’ had stolen the UPA thunder.

Sagar Kulkarni, New Delhi

Speculative vacation

Odisha chief minister and ruling Biju Janata  Dal president Naveen Patnaik is not known for taking “leave” and going on a vacation. During his 14 years in power, the bachelor politico had seldom gone out of the state to spend some time for himself leaving behind the official works. Therefore, when he decided to take some time off and fly out to New Delhi on a “personal visit” soon after the polls, it led to speculation in the corridors of power. He even extended his stay.

One speculation was about the three-time CM’s health condition. A local TV channel ran a speculative story indicating that he had got his health check up done in a hospital in New Delhi while parking himself at his late father Biju Patnaik’s residence on the posh Aurangzeb Road. However, the 60-plus BJD president rejected the speculation soon after landing in the state capital. “I am absolutely fit”, he declared.

S T Beuria, Bhubaneswar

Testing patience

That old talk about patience delivering sweet results could be lost on at least some of the candidates in Lok Sabha elections in Kerala. Between April 10, the day elections were held in the state and May 16, the day of counting, it is an excruciating 35-day wait for candidates, especially for some of them fielded by the Congress who battle fears of factionalism and other factors spoiling their chances. Some of them have already hinted at the possibility of factional feuds and vote-trading even as rivals dubbed these charges as efforts to defend impending losses.

There’s more trouble in the shape of “internal reports” put together by parties, some of them even predicting the winning/losing margins. Most of the candidates are lying low ahead of Counting Day. A know-all was heard in the middle of tea-shop banter: “They don’t watch television or read newspapers till the results are out.” Makes sense.

S Krishnakumar, Thiruvananthapuram

Last act

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar drove into the Parliament House complex last week to bid farewell to her staff. She appeared to be emotional when she thanked them and shared her experience in the chair in the last five years. Accompanied by her husband, she also went round the complex. One of her last act was to sign an order appointing P Sreedharan as the Secretary General of the Lok Sabha Secretariat for 89 days.